Actress and star of Gone With The Wind.
Born: February 1, 1915 Died: January 3, 2014
Alicia Rhett, who has died aged 98, was an actress and the oldest surviving cast member of Gone With The Wind. She played India Wilkes in the 1939 film starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.
In the movie, India is a sister of Ashley Wilkes, with whom Scarlett O'Hara is deeply in love but India is not a fan of the flighty, self-obsessed Scarlett. Eventually, Ashley marries his cousin and Scarlett becomes involved with Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable.
Alicia Rhett was born in Savannah, Georgia, and was British on her mother's side (her mother was originally from Liverpool; her father was an army officer).
As a young girl, she showed much promise as an artist and went on to study at the Carolina Art Association. Her first connection with the stage was creating artwork for her local theatre but before long she developed an interest in becoming an actress.
Her first stage role was in The Recruiting Officer in 1937, but a talent scout in the audience spotted her and suggested she audition for Gone With The Wind. At the time, every actress in the land was after the role of Scarlett, but Rhett was considered initially for the part of Melanie, Ashley Wilkes's wife. It was an important part in the film - Melanie was the selfless contrast to the selfish Scarlett - but in the end the producers thought that Rhett was too inexperience and gave the part to Olivia de Havilland instead.
As India, Rhett looked perfect as a Southern belle and she had a wonderful time on set and left with good impressions of her co-stars. Clark Gable was professional, she said, Vivien Leigh was hard-working, and Leslie Howard had, in her words, charm to burn.
Rhett was also a portrait painter and sketched her fellow actors on the set, sending them back to her local paper the Charleston Post and Courier.
The success of Gone With The Wind when it was released in 1939 could have given Rhett a long-lasting career in film but, almost before it was released, she had decided to live a quite life instead, focusing on her painting.
She was the oldest surviving cast member of Gone With The Wind. Still-surviving cast members include Olivia de Havilland, 97, who played Ashley Wilkes' cousin and wife, Melanie Hamilton; Mary Anderson, 93, who played Maybelle Merriweather; and Mickey Kuhn, 81, who played Beau Wilkes. She never married.
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