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Several iconic films from 1939 mark 80th anniversary

There’s an impressive list of films that were released by Hollywood in 1939. Just a few include: “The Wizard of Oz;” “Wuthering Heights;” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington;” “The Women;” “Stagecoach;” “Ninotchka;” and the king of them all – “Gone with the Wind.”

There are several theories and explanations of why that year was so important as well as why so many memorable films were released that year. Film historians have called 1939 the “Greatest year in the history of Hollywood.” And with the list of released films in that year, they’re not wrong.

Many of the films released in 1939 have gone on to become classics, none more so than “Gone with the Wind.” The wildly popular book was released in 1936 and almost immediately David O. Selznick garnered the rights to film the stories of Scarlett, Rhett Butler, Ashley Wilkes and the rest of the huge cast. In today’s dollars, GWTW is listed as the highest grossing film of all times.

Well for those fans of the film, there is an important part of it that’s coming to auction. It’s the threshold and door from Tara, the O’Hara home of Scarlett and her family. According to information found on the Internet, at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, radio blog, the pieces of the door and threshold have been languishing in a building for two decades. The building is located next to the house where Margaret Mitchell wrote the book! The following is from AJC.

“The door and casement of the Tara plantation, which has been loaned to the Margaret Mitchell House property for the past two decades, is going to be auctioned off to the highest bidder next month by Los Angeles auction house Profiles in History.

The Talmadge family owns the door.  Betty Talmadge, wife of the late Sen. and Gov. Herman Talmadge, purchased the door for $5,000 in 1979 and spent $8,000 to restore it in 1989. She died in 2005.

The starting bid for the door will be $40,000 in an online auction, said Brian Chanes, head of client and consignor relations for Profiles in History and an employee since 1991. A separate lot of set pieces from the movie such as windows, shutters, doors, porch posts and railings will also be put up for auction at a likely starting bid of $15,000, Chanes said. They could use some restoration, he noted.”

An interesting piece of information for trivia fans is that the only principal actor still alive from that film is Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie Wilkes. She will be 103 years old on July 1 of this year! I had the honor of meeting Miss de Havilland in 1976. She was having dinner at Win Schuler’s restaurant in Jackson, Michigan and walked around the restaurant looking at the many paintings that decorated the wall. Only in my 20s at the time, I was awestruck and only mustered the courage to say, “Hello.” She answered and was very gracious and pleasant.

If it had ever been Clark Gable, I would have gone into a dead faint, but unfortunately he passed away in 1960 when I was just a young child.

Those who are interested in additional upcoming auctions and sales can check out this issue of Collectors Journal for several outstanding events including:

A Red Wing and Stoneware auction takes place Saturday, June 1 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Backes Auction Center, 6605 Dubuque Road in Raymond, Iowa. Live and online bidding is available on an amazing collection including 500 lots of mainly Red Wing pottery, mixed blue with Western, Blue and White stoneware and other salt glazed and zinc crocks, churns and butter crocks. Also included in this sale will be Sponge, Cherry Brand, Cattail –jugs—feeder Koverwates; advertising items and a complete set of Red Wing commemoratives and much more. A 10 percent buyers fee will be added for live bidding and 16 percent for online purchases. The auction is offered by Backes Auctioneering in conjunction with Kastli Auctioneering and more information is at www.backes-auction.com or at (800) 876-8070.

Backes Auctioneers and Realty is also offering a train auction on Sunday, June 2 at Backes Auction Center, 6605 Dubuque Road in Raymond, Iowa, beginning at 11 a.m. Full sets of toy trains from Lionel, Marx, KMT, Rail King and others are scheduled to be sold with live or online bidders. This is a one-owner collection of “0” gauge trains from the post-war era. Quite a few military and locomotives will be in the sale. Buyers premiums of 10 percent live bidding; and 16 percent online will be added. More information is at www.backes-auction.com or at (800) 876-8070.

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend and were able to celebrate the summer kick-off weekend with family and friends. Enjoy this weekend and please contact us with mystery items; club and convention news; Auction Action news; unusual collections and any other antiques-related matters. We can be reached at editor@collectorsjournal.com; meego929@aol.com or via telephone at (319) 472-4763.