Sunday, August 19, 2012

'Gone With the Wind' Actress Ann Rutherford Dead at 94 - Hollywood Reporter

Ann Rutherford, best known for playing Scarlett O'Hara’s younger sister Carreen in Gone with the Wind, has died. She was 94.

A close friend of Rutherford’s confirmed the actress died Monday evening in her Beverly Hills home to the Los Angeles Times, which reports she had been dealing with declining health.

In addition to her role in the 1939 classic, Rutherford entertained audiences in Mickey Rooney’s popular Andy Hardy series, where she played Rooney’s girlfriend Polly Benedict. She is also known for her small screen role as Suzanne Pleshette's mother on The Bob Newhart Show.

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When Rutherford was cast in Gone with the Wind, she nearly wasn't able to accept the part. She was under contract with MGM, and studio head Louis B. Mayer wanted to turn the role down on her behalf, calling it “a nothing part. In a 2010 interview, Rutherford revealed he allowed her to accept when the actress, a fan of the book, burst into tears.

Rutherford married David May II, grandson of the department store founder, in 1942, and had cut down on her acting work by the early 1950s to spend more time with her daughter, who was born in 1943. Rutherford and May divorced in 1953, the same year she married William Dozier, who would go on to produce the Batman TV series in the 1960s. The couple remained married until his death in 1991.

In 1989, Rutherford and nine other surviving Gone with the Wind cast members assembled in Atlanta to celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary. She used the occasion to remark on the film's legacy.

"Anyone who had read the book sensed they were into something that would belong to the ages, and everyone was in a frenzy to read the book," she said.

Rutherford is survived by a daughter, Gloria, and two grandsons.

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