Year
1933

David O. Selznick returns to MGM

On this day in 1933, David O. Selznick becomes vice president and producer at MGM. Selznick became one of the most influential independent producers of his time.

Selznick got his start working at his father’s studio, Lewis Selznick Pictures. Selznick’s older brother, Myron, also worked at the studio, becoming chief of production by age 21.

After Selznick Pictures went bankrupt in 1923, Lewis landed a job for David with his former partner and sometime rival, Louis B. Mayer, at MGM. Myron, meanwhile, went on to become a powerful talent agent. David eventually married the boss’s daughter, Irene, but left MGM to work at Paramount and RKO before founding his own company, Selznick International in 1936.

In the spring of 1936, a few months before the publication of Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War epic, Gone with the Wind, Selznick expressed interest in buying the film rights but balked at Mitchell’s asking price of $50,000-more than any studio had ever paid for rights to a first novel. He gave in, however, just before the book’s release in June and began three long years of production in which he used three directors and 15 screenwriters. His nationwide search for the actress to play Scarlett lasted more than a year. Meanwhile, he agreed to let MGM distribute the film in return for lending him Clark Gable to play Rhett Butler. Filming on the movie began in December 1938, but the Scarlett role still hadn’t been cast. British actress Vivien Leigh visited the set on the day filming began; a month later, she signed on as Scarlett.

The film debuted in Atlanta on December 15, 1939, and became an instant hit, breaking all box office records in the course of its run. The film was nominated for more than a dozen Oscars and won nine, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress (which went to Hattie McDaniel, the first African American actress to win the award). The movie was digitally restored and the sound remastered for its 1998 re-release by New Line Pictures.

The following year, Selznick brought Alfred Hitchcock from England to direct Rebecca, Hitchcock’s first U.S. film. Selznick produced several other pictures in the United States and abroad, but none made the same splash as Gone with the Wind. He produced his last film, A Farewell to Arms, in 1957.

Selznick died on June 22, 1965.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The most daring act of the age

During the First Barbary War, U.S. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur leads a military mission that famed British Admiral Horatio Nelson calls the “most daring act of the age.” In June 1801, President Thomas Jefferson ordered U.S. Navy vessels to the Mediterranean Sea in protest of ...read more

Castro sworn in

On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after leading a guerrilla campaign that forced right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile. Castro, who became commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces after Batista was ousted on January 1, replaced ...read more

Archaeologist opens tomb of King Tut

On this day in 1923, in Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen. Because the ancient Egyptians saw their pharaohs as gods, they carefully preserved their bodies after death, burying them in ...read more

Tet Offensive results in many new refugees

U.S. officials report that, in addition to the 800,000 people listed as refugees prior to January 30, the fighting during the Tet Offensive has created 350,000 new refugees. The communist attack known as the Tet Offensive had begun at dawn on January 31, the first day of the Tet ...read more

James Monroe marries Elizabeth Kortright

On this day in history, future President James Monroe weds a 17-year-old New York beauty named Elizabeth Kortright. The 26-year-old Monroe, already a famous revolutionary and practicing lawyer, married not for money, but for love. Elizabeth’s father, once a wealthy privateer, had ...read more

Silver dollars made legal

Strongly supported by western mining interests and farmers, the Bland-Allison Act—which provided for a return to the minting of silver coins—becomes the law of the land. The strife and controversy surrounding the coinage of silver is difficult for most modern Americans to ...read more

Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford is born

On this day in 1944, novelist Richard Ford is born in Jackson, Mississippi. The son of a traveling salesman, Ford lost his father when he was 16. He graduated from Michigan State University, where he met his wife, Kristina, who became a city planner. After a stint at law school, ...read more

Chopin plays his final Paris concert

“Bach is like an astronomer who, with the help of ciphers, finds the most wonderful stars….Beethoven embraced the universe with the power of his spirit….I do not climb so high. A long time ago I decided that my universe will be the soul and heart of man.” This was the assessment ...read more

Brush fires ravage South Australia

Brush fires rage across South Australia on this day in 1983, burning thousands of acres, killing 75 people and injuring another 800. There were 24 major fires in total across the region, in addition to scores of smaller ones. The summer of 1982-83 had been extremely hot and dry ...read more

John Wesley Hardin is pardoned

Infamous gunslinger John Wesley Hardin is pardoned after spending 15 years in a Texas prison for murder. Hardin, who was reputed to have shot and killed a man just for snoring, was 41 years old at the time of his release. Hardin probably killed in excess of 40 people during a ...read more

Capture of Fort Donelson

On this day in 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant finishes a spectacular campaign by capturing Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. This battle came10 days after Grant’s capture of Fort Henry, just10 miles to the west on the Tennessee River, and opened the way for ...read more

Joseph Stalin attacks the United Nations

In a statement focusing on the situation in Korea, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin charges that the United Nations has become “a weapon of aggressive war.” He also suggested that although a world war was not inevitable “at the present time,” “warmongers” in the West might trigger ...read more

Jeff Gordon becomes youngest Daytona winner

On February 16, 1997, 25-year-old Jeff Gordon claims his first Daytona 500 victory, becoming the youngest winner in the history of the 200-lap, 500-mile National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) event, dubbed the “Super Bowl of stock car racing.” Driving his No. 24 ...read more

Russians capture Erzerum

After five days of intense fighting, the Russian army defeats the Third Turkish Army to capture Erzerum, a largely Armenian city in the Ottoman province of Anatolia, on this day in 1916. The Central Powers considered Turkey, which entered World War I in November 1914, a valuable ...read more

Bataan recaptured

On this day, the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines is occupied by American troops, almost three years after the devastating and infamous Bataan Death March. On April 3, 1942, the Japanese infantry staged a major offensive against Allied troops in Bataan, the peninsula guarding ...read more