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  • The lowdown on Scarlett’s green dress

    By Tim Green
    Tim Green
    Published: Sept. 17, 2010
    Film Curator Steve Wilson and Jill Morena, collection assistant for Costumes and Personal Effects, with the original curtain dress from "Gone With The Wind."Photo: Anthony Maddaloni

    This article originally appeared in the Further Findings research blog.

    It would have been a good story if the curtains Scarlett O’Hara ripped down in “Gone With The Wind” had been used to make her famous curtain dress, which is housed at the Harry Ransom Center.

    But, alas, that’s not the case.

    Hoping for a further finding, Further Findings put that question to Steve Wilson, the film curator at the Harry Ransom Center. The dress and 5,000 boxes of other materials from the second-best movie made in 1939 (my pick is “The Wizard of Oz”) are in the center’s David O. Selznick Collection.

    Wilson replied that no, the curtains were not used.

    Green curtain dress (the Portieres dress) worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in

    Green curtain dress (the Portieres dress) worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With The Wind.”

    But we can tell you that the material for the dress didn’t come directly from the fabric store, either.

    “The fabric was distressed in various ways to make it appear to have been faded and damaged by hanging in a window,” Wilson said.

    The question was prompted by the Ransom Center’s quest for donations for preserving the curtain dress and other costumes that Vivien Leigh, who played Scarlett, wore in the movie.

    In just a couple of weeks, the Ransom Center raised $30,000 from donors from around the country and the world.

    The Ransom Center will restore the dresses and purchase protective housing and custom-fitted mannequins to allow for proper exhibition according to conservation best practices and standards.

    Read more about the curtain dress, including the dialogue from the scene in which Scarlett repurposes the curtains.

    Hear Wilson’s interview with Scott Simon from NPR’s Weekend Edition.

    • Quote 2
      Betty W. said on Oct. 21, 2010 at 7:06 a.m.
      I'd rather see the Bob Mackie curtain dress that he made for the Carol Burnett Show's "Went With the Wind" sketch. Unfortunately, that one is in the Smithsonian.
    • Quote 2
      pv said on Oct. 20, 2010 at 2:11 p.m.
      I believe the actual line in the movie from Mammy was "Not Miss Ellen's portieres!"
    • Quote 2
      Angelica said on Oct. 6, 2010 at 5:04 p.m.
      Is that dress on display yet? If not, when will it be on display?
    • Quote 2
      Alicia Maples said on Oct. 1, 2010 at 11:25 a.m.
      Love that movie...and those clothes.
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