Thesp spoke first line in 'Gone With the Wind'

Fred Crane, the one-time actor whose Southern accent won him a slot as one of Scarlett O’Hara’s beaux and the opening line in “Gone With the Wind,” died Aug. 21 in Atlanta of complications from diabetes, according to his wife Terry Lynn Crane.

The couple had lived in Barnesville south of Atlanta, where they operated Tarleton Oaks. The bed and breakfast was named for his character in the film, Brent Tarleton.

The other Tarleton twin was played by George Reeves, who later gained TV immortality as Superman.

Born in New Orleans, Crane stumbled into his role on “Gone With the Wind.” He was not yet an actor when he accompanied a cousin who wanted to audition for the movie.

The casting director liked the 20-year-old’s Southern twang, and he wound up being cast.

The film opens with Crane’s character asking O’Hara, played by Vivien Leigh: “What do we care if we were expelled from college, Scarlett? The war is going to start any day now, so we’d have left college anyhow.”

Her reply to Crane and Reeves contains one of the movie’s classic lines: “Fiddle-dee-dee. War, war, war. This war talk’s spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream.”

Crane also had roles in the 1949 Cisco Kid movie “The Gay Amigo,” and acted on television during the 1960s. He also hosted a classical music radio show in Los Angeles for 40 years.

He did not attend the 1939 premiere of “Gone With the Wind” and for decades he did not exploit his role. But Crane did channel his character later, at Tarleton Oaks, located in a 19th century mansion.

He sold the business, as well as his own movie memorabilia, last year.

Crane was married five times and is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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