PARIS — Confederate soldiers and carpetbaggers invaded UNESCO headquarters on Dec. 15, during an anniversary showing of “Gone With the Wind,” 60 years to the day after its Atlanta premiere. The event honored longtime Paris resident Olivia de Havilland.
De Havilland, sprightly and gracious at 83, told of attending that first showing with squire Jock Whitney. Although reference books estimate the crowds at 300,000, de Havilland suspects there were probably half a million fans lining the streets.
“We watched the film that evening with the same rapt attention you’ve shown so far,” de Havilland reported at the end of part one. “I keep thinking we’re not alone tonight, we have company. The whole cast, almost all of them have gone before us to that great plantation in the sky. I think they’ve gathered together and each one is holding a very tall mint julep and raising it to you.”
Moments after Scarlett O’Hara clawed a bitter radish from the red earth of Tara and swore to God “never (to) be hungry again,” attendees sipped champagne and partook of a Southern-style buffet.
“I’ve lived here since 1953 and I like everything about France,” the star told Variety. “The French are such an enterprising people with a surprising way of doing so many things.”
De Havilland’s description would certainly cover the time a French magazine with a tenuous grasp on spelling wrote about “GWTW’s” legendary producer, the alleged Irishman “David O’Selznick.”