Ransom Center Reaches Goal To Preserve “Gone with the Wind” Costumes

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Those infamous words uttered by Clark Gable’s character, Rhett Butler, at the conclusion of the epic Gone with the Wind, are known worldwide, even to those who have never seen the film.

Equally as famous are the costumes worn by actress Vivien Leigh for her character, the temperamental Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, and thanks to the generosity of fans across the world, five of these original costumes, including the green curtain dress, will be restored to their original glory.

Part of the David O. Selznick film collection, the gowns are housed at The University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center. The center is planning to display the gowns in 2014 in an exhibit celebrating the 75th anniversary of the film, which won 10 Academy Awards. But the dresses aren’t up for the challenge as is. After frequent exhibits over the years, the gowns are in fragile condition. 

“Most costumes are not constructed to last beyond the production of the film nor are they finished in the same way as a ready-to-wear garment,” says Jill Morena, collection assistant for costumes and personal effects at the Ransom Center.

Three weeks ago the Ransom Center put out the word that $30,000 would need to be raised to restore the dresses, as well as provide protective housing and custom-fitted mannequins for proper exhibition. The dresses are currently wrapped in acid-free tissue paper in archival boxes and kept in a humidity- and temperature-controlled space at the Ransom Center.

From 44 states and 13 countries, more than 600 individuals contributed to the preservation fund. See below where the dollars came from.

“These generous donations confirm that the film’s legions of fans do, in fact, care,” says Steve Wilson, film curator at the Ransom Center.

So Rhett may not “give a damn” anymore, but fans of Gone with the Wind certainly do.

For updates on the costumes or to donate, click here.  


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