Actress Ann Rutherford, who cemented her legacy in film history with a small role as Scarlett’s younger sister Carreen in the epic Southern drama Gone With the Wind, has died at the age of 94.
Rutherford, born in 1920, also appeared alongside Mickey Rooney in the Andy Hardy series, as well as starring in several comedies with Red Skelton. However, it was her small role in Gone With the Wind that endured as the defining one of Ann Rutherford’s career, even though her appearance in the film almost didn’t happen.
When the 1939 flick was being put together and filmed, Ann Rutherford was under contract to star in the Andy Hardy series. When Gone With the Wind’s maker David O. Selznick wanted to use Rutherford for the small part, studio head Louis B. Mayer initially wanted to refuse.
Calling the role of Carreen a “nothing” part, Mayer was reluctant, but Rutherford (according to the Los Angeles Timesgone with the wind carreen o’hara) “uncharacteristically burst into tears,” influencing the Hollywood mogul to allow her to accept the role. And the waterworks paid off, because as Rutherford said in her later years:
“That ‘nothing part’ turned my golden years into platinum.”
Indeed, Ann Rutherford was able to carve a second career out of the circumstance of being one of the last surviving cast members of the seminal Gone With the Wind. In later years, the actress appeared in a role as Suzanne Pleshette’s character’s mother on The Bob Newhart Show, but was largely inactive in Hollywood by the year 1950.
Ann Rutherford died after falling ill with heart problems.