Approximately 600 Gone With the Wind fans, hailing from over 44 states and 13 countries, have rallied together to raise the $30,000 needed to repair five costumes from the Oscar-winning 1939 cinema blockbuster.
The Harry Ransom Center in Texas acquired the costumes in the mid-1980s as part of the collection of Gone With the Wind producer David Selznick. The outfits were all worn by British-born actress Vivien Leigh in her famous role as Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara and include Scarlett’s burgundy ball gown and wedding dress. In August, museum chiefs launched an appeal to raise funds to restore the dresses. The iconic costumes were beginning to show their age after years of traveling displays in theaters and had a brief loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
“The costumes are in fragile condition and cannot currently be exhibited,” Jill Morena, the Center’s Collection Assistant for Costumes and Personal Effects, explained in a statement issued last month.
“There are areas where the fabric has been worn through, fragile seams and other problems. These dresses have been under a lot of stress. Film costumes weren’t meant to last, they are only meant to last through the duration of filming.”
The Ransom Center will use the donations to restore the threads and purchased custom fitted mannequins and proper housing for their display during a 12-month Gone With the Wind 75th anniversary celebration set for 2013.
Steve Wilson, museum curator, has praised film fans for rallying to the rescue to save a small piece of film history.
“These generous donations confirm that the film’s legions of fans care.”
The Ransom Center also hopes to loan the dresses out to museums around the globe for display.