You might have noticed by now that while I’m usually interested in just about anything historical, I’m especially interested in things with Iowa historical connections and I recently came across one.
Gone With the Wind Fandom
I’m not a huge Gone With the Wind fan, it may be because we had to watch and be silent when we watched it with my mom once a year every year (they used to play it as a two night extravaganza mini-series on broadcast TV every single year when I was growing up in the pre-DVD, pre-VHS era). It may be that even from an early age that I rebelled against the insidious myth of the lost cause, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the movie. I do have a sort of fondness for it. I have some fan-like reactions. It’s not that I didn’t like Scarlet and Rhett or before this was even a fan term “ship” them enough to write a short sequel while in high school where they get back together [having heard the highlights of Scarlett from my mom I think family would have been better off making mine the official sequel 😉 ] and having heard about THE DUMP apartment in Atlanta I now really want to see where Margaret Mitchell lived. I also went to see the movie in a real theater when it was in limited release so I could see it on the big screen as intended for once (they really do have an intermission so people don’t have to miss any of it), but I’m not that big a fan. My mom not only loved to watch the movie, she also read the book and when Scarlett came out shut herself in her room with the door closed for two days straight to read it (and she NEVER did that). SHE is a big fan of GWTW, but I at least have enough interest so when a link for “20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Gone With The Wind” popped up in my Facebook feed I clicked on it and I’m glad I did.
Iowa Connection to GWTW Movie
It turns out there is an Iowa connection to the movie (and I don’t mean that libelous and inaccurate description of the Prisoner of War facility at Rock Island, Illinois that appears in the book). Howard Hall was the patriarch of the last of the three families to live in the historic Brucemore Mansion in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (FYI the second family had a brother who went down on the RMS Titanic). If you tour Brucemore and its grounds today, Hall is the one that built the secret Tiki bar in the basement (it fake rains just like the one at Disneyland), but they only sometimes let you get into it now. Hall was fascinated by movies. He even had a series of pet lions, one of which was related to the roaring lion of MGM films. Hall also took home movies and having gotten behind the scenes filming of Gone With the Wind, he filmed that. The house and contents was left to the National Historic Trust in 1981 at his wife’s death and they only got around to working through the film collection in the 2000s.
Filming Behind the Scenes
Watch the Clip as part of the news story below:
Or find it directly on YouTube here:
Mental Floss says this about the clip:
“Howard Hall was an Iowan business magnate and film enthusiast. At some point during the filming of the barbeque scene, Hall was allowed access to the set. There, he filmed the famous cast and crowds of extras lolling around Busch Gardens, where the scene was filmed. The film lay inside Hall’s Brucemore Mansion until the 2000s, when it was discovered amid other home movies when the estate was turned over to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.”
How Can You See More?
I contacted Brucemore for a follow up since this clip in 2008 and they said sadly they weren’t able yet to get it in a format for sale like they hoped and was discussed in the clip, but they did have it available to view in its entirety at Brucemore.
Learn more about Brucemore here (they also have a building that was once a combination book bindery and squash court, how can you NOT want to see that?):
And check out other Gone With the Wind locations here:
UPDATE: Check out these photos released as part of 75th anniversary celebration:
UPDATED May 3 2016 about Brucemore: Genny Yarne, a tour guide at Brucemore, wanted me to include some extra information to clarify what I said above.
“Howard chose the basement as place to establish the Tahitian Room and Grizzly Bar. Howard used these rooms as casual places to relax with his guests and sometimes screened his home movies in the Tahitian Room, which included vacation footage from Florida as well as more unique scenes, such as some shot behind-the-scenes on the set of Gone with the Wind. . . . The room also has a special feature: water can be circulated onto the tin roof to simulate the sound of raindrops. Visitors can hear the rain during the Nooks and Crannies Tour and the Tahitian Party.”
The Tahitian Room and The Grizzly Bar (a log cabin bar from the big woods up north) are once again on the standard tour. The name of the Tiki bar is the Tahitian Room (Tiki is a kind of bar). They have started to let it “rain” again during the special “Nooks and Crannies Tour” and during the “Tahitian Party.” I’m glad they’ve brought back my favorite parts of the tour.
Since I was doing an update, I also confirmed my links and replaced one that no longer was active.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.