Mary Anderson, 96

MaryAndersonMary Anderson, one of the few still living cast members from the 1939 classic Gone With The Wind, died this past Sunday, April 6, under hospice care in Burbank. She was 96.

Although she, like thousands of actresses in one of the greatest casting searches in film history, auditioned for the lead role of Scarlett O’Hara, the red-headed Anderson was given the supporting role of Maybelle Merriwether in the film about the pre-and-post-Civil War South.

With Anderson’s passing, the remaining cast member’s from Gone With The Wind number just Olivia de Havilland, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Melanie Wilkes, and Mickey Kuhn, the former child actor who portrayed Melanie and Ashley’s son Beau Wilkes.

Anderson, a Birmingham, Alabama native, was discovered by director George Cuckor while searching for an actress to take on the coveted role of Scarlett O’Hara in the screen adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel. Cuckor was eventually fired from the project by producer David O. Selznick who would go on to choose Vivian Leigh for the part though he would award Anderson with the smaller role of Maybelle.

Despite being a capable and dependable actress, Anderson’s roles rarely rose above the level of supporting in such films as The Sea Hawk, All This, And Heaven Too (both 1940) and The Song Of Bernadette (1943). She was one of the ensemble in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1944 thriller Lifeboat. Although her film career wound down in the early 1950s, she did some occasional work television work up until the mid-1960s.

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A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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