Theater archives

How Bette Davis Lost Out on Gone With The Wind


In a Fringe Festival show called Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies, Jessica Sherr portrays the screen legend talking to her two Oscars in between indulging in flashback confrontations with various Hollywood moguls.

And this is how Sherr’s version of Bette’s version of not getting to play Scarlett O’Hara plays out:

First, Jack Warner wanted her to do the part, but only if she also played a lumberjack in a movie called God’s Country.

Bette couldn’t go through with that, clearly not too thrilled to wear plaid.

Then David O. Selznick took over and wanted Bette, but only in a deal whereby Errol Flynn would be her Rhett.

Again, Bette said “feh,” this time because she felt Flynn gave you nothing to work with — he just said his lines and that was it.

(Maybe after working with Richard Barthelmess and Lyle Talbot, she’d had enough.)

Whether all this is true or not, I’m glad Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable ultimately got to be Scarlett and Rhett.

And I’m glad Bette’s fiery bitterness over the situation helped fuel her moxie for decades to come.