Gone With The Wind Exhibit and Lecture
Do you remember the first time you saw the movie,Gone With the Wind? David Williams of Tuscaloosa does. In fact, after seeing the movie in 1969, he bought the soundtrack complete with a 28-page booklet about the author, Margaret Mitchell, the book and the film. Thus began his collection ofGone With the Wind memorabilia.
Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the book, selections of Williams’ collection are currently on display in the Pearce Foyer, Gorgas Library, until August 5. A replica of the famous Green Curtain Dress, foreign copies of the book, a flyer advertising the showing of the movie at Tuscaloosa’s Dale Drive-In and the Atlanta Constitution newspaper dated August 12, 1949, announcing Margaret Mitchell tragic accident are just a few items on display.
Sponsored by University Libraries and the Alabama Center for the Book, Williams will give a lecture about his collection on Thursday, June 23 at 3:00 p.m. in Gorgas Library, room 205. The public is invited to attend.
Williams remembers seeing the film at the Capri Theater in downtown Tuscaloosa. He was 14 years old and went with a church group. His ticket cost $2.00. He had heard of the movie but didn’t know much about it. In fact, at intermission he thought the film was over and remembered thinking he enjoyed the movie but wanted the story to continue. He shared his experience with his parents when he returned home and together they remembered their first time of viewing the film. He was hooked.
When asked how many times he has seen the movie, Williams replied, “More than I should have; enough to memorize the dialogue!” He tells a story of watching the film at the Ferguson Center once and the sound suddenly stopped. The movie continued but there was no spoken word. So until the problem was rectified, about a minute later, he was able to deliver the lines for those seated around him.
An original unused ticket to the world premier in Atlanta on December 15, 1939, is his favorite item in the collection and is on display. Williams has only seen one complete ticket for sale and feels fortunate to get it.
Family members, friends and even members of audiences of groups he speaks to help him find items to add to his collection. The invention of e-bay has made items more assessable. However, you must have a good knowledge of the material Williams reports.
“Many times I have seen books for sale that were autographed by Margaret Mitchell in 1938 or later. Margaret Mitchell may have signed the book but not the Margaret Mitchell. She stopped signing books after January 1937,” Williams said.
The vast majority of items in his collection are originals with a few copies.
Williams and his family just returned from a family vacation in southern California where they toured Culver Studios. In 1939, this was Selznick International Pictures where Gone With the Wind was filmed. Although studio tours are not given, Williams was able to look at the office of GWTW producer, Davis O. Selznick, and the main administration building shown in the opening credits of all SIP films, including Gone With the Wind. He was also able to stand on the front walk where a scene from the movie was filmed. A big thrill for any GWTW collector.
Williams, a native of Moundville, has lived in Tuscaloosa since 1978. He is a loan officer with Alabama Credit Union and music director at Moundville Baptist Church. His wife, Libby is assistant director of Graduate Admissions for International Admissions and Recruitment at UA. Their son, Spencer, recently graduated from Paul W. Bryant High School and will be attending Shelton State this fall with plans to transfer to the University.