On this day in time, 76 years ago – December 15, 1939, Gone with the Wind premiered in front of roughly 300,000 early film lovers in Atlanta, GA.
The release was the climax of a three-day festival in Atlanta, which consisted of parades, festivals and even a costume ball. However, due to Jim Crow laws in Georgia at the time, African-American cast members were segregated from their white co-stars and were even outright barred from attending.
As an item of note, just a few months later, Hattie McDaniel (Mammy, the house servant) would win Best Supporting Actress and became the first African-American to win an Academy Award. But, as were the times, Hattie and her escort were segregated and were forced to occupy a table at the back of the theater.
In terms of the release of Gone with the Wind, it was such an over-the-top event that President Jimmy Carter would later call it “the biggest event to happen in the South in my lifetime.”
The film reveled in it’s success, right from the get-go. In just the first four years after the release, over 60 million tickets to the film were sold. To put that in perspective, 60 million was roughly one-half of the total population of the United States in 1939.
As of today, many critics still consider Gone with the Wind one of the best movies of all time…
But it was on This Day in Time, 76 years ago, that it all began with the premier at Loews Grand Theater in Atlanta, GA.