5 Things You Didn't Know About 'Gone with the Wind'

On May 3, 1937, novelist Margaret Mitchell won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel "Gone with the Wind." More than 30 million copies of Mitchell’s Civil War masterpiece have been sold worldwide, and it has been translated into 27 languages.  Here are five interesting facts about Gone with the Wind…

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It's the Second-Most Popular Book of All-Time After the Bible. According to Adweek, Gone with the Wind is more popular among Americans than both the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series along with other classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and The Great Gatsby. To-date, the book has sold more than 30 million copies and interestingly enough, crosses party lines: it is the most popular book among both Republicans and Democrats.

It Took 16 Writers to Turn The Book Into a Movie Writer Ben Hecht, producer Victor Selznick, and director Victor Fleming shut themselves in a room for a week to finish the script — Selznick, thinking food inhibited the creative process, limited food supplies, and on the fifth day, while eating a banana, collapsed and was revived by a doctor. On the sixth day, a blood vessel in Fleming's eye burst. Sixteen different writers—including F. Scott Fitzgerald—took part in the cutting, editing and polishing of the script. In the end, it all paid off: the film went on to win 11 Academy Awards and gross $390 million globally at the box office.  

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The Word “Damn” Almost Didn’t Appear in the Movie One of the most famous lines in the movie was Rhett’s line “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” as he made his final exit. It took a lot of convincing for Selznick to talk the censors into allowing it by convincing them that a change to “I don’t care” would ruin the movie. One of the arguments he used was that the word meant “a vulgarism” and had no sexual connotation.

There Was a Shortage of Actors for One Big Scene Roughly half of the bodies in the train yard scene were dummies. Director David Selznick wanted 2,500 extras to portray the wounded and dead Confederates pictured near the war’s end. However, there were only 1,500 extras in total who belonged to the Screen Actors Guild. Selznick made up the difference by using 1,000 dummies to portray the additional dead and wounded soldiers. The trick worked. As the camera pans out on a stumbling Scarlett, more and more bodies fill the screen — with an aerial view of soldier's arms flailing and the sounds of moaning giving way to music.

Margaret Mitchell Was Fatally Struck By a Car 10 Years After The Film's Release On August 11, 1949, Mitchell was crossing the street with her husband on the way to see a film when a speeding vehicle struck her. Margaret died five days later of her injuries at the age of 48. In recent years, the daughter of the off-duty cab driver who hit Mitchell has written her own version of what happened that night, claiming her father was not drunk or driving recklessly, but the victim of a murderous cover-up. Whether it was a murderous cover-up or an accident, the sad truth remains: we lost one of America's great authors before she could write her second novel.