On June 27, 1939, one of the most famous scenes in movie history is filmed: Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara parting in Gone with the Wind. Director Victor Fleming also shot the scene using the alternate line, “Frankly, my dear, I just don’t care,” in case the film censors objected to the word “damn.” The censors approved the movie but fined producer David O. Selznick $5,000 for including the curse.
The filming of the famous epic was itself an epic, with two and half years elapsing between Selznick’s purchase of the rights to Margaret Mitchell’s novel and the movie’s debut in Atlanta in December 1939. While the film eventually garnered many awards, it has also drawn criticism for its romanticism of the Antebellum South and whitewashing of the horrors of slavery.
Filming began on December 10, 1938, with the burning of Atlanta scene, although O’Hara still hadn’t been cast. British actress Vivien Leigh, newly arrived from London, dropped by the set to visit her agent, Myron Selznick, brother of the producer. David O. Selznick asked her to test for O’Hara. In January, Leigh signed on. Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard and Hattie McDaniel also starred. McDaniel, who played Mammy, the Tara Plantation house servant and formerly enslaved woman, became the first African American actor to win an Oscar for her performance.