Book Review – The Charms of Miss O’Hara: Tales of Gone with the Wind & the Golden Age of Hollywood from Scarlett’s Little Sister by Phillip Done

Gone with the Wind. When I first saw it, I fell in love. It had everything a great movie should have: an amazing cast; costumes that took my breath away; elaborate sets; not to mention a glorious score; and a story that is both heartbreaking and strangely encouraging at the same time. Some say there will never be another movie to its equal. Some think it’s vastly overrated. It is certainly controversial by today’s standards, but no matter one’s preference it has certainly infiltrated our culture and become part of our vernacular. Gone with the Wind is here to stay.

Beyond the vastness of the movie and the legend comes a true story about an author who had a chance meeting with the woman who happened to play Carreen in Gone with the Wind. You may also know her as Andy Hardy’s long suffering girlfriend in the Andy Hardy series. Her name? Ann Rutherford. In this delightful biography and tribute, author Phillip Done takes us through his encounters with Miss Rutherford, his visits to her home, and the wonderful stories she lovingly tells about her life as an actress in Old Hollywood.

Reading this book is like sitting down with Miss Rutherford and listening to her recall her life’s story. The book is so warmly written, and her adorable, vivacious personality jumps off its pages. For instance, she refers to Gone with the Wind as The Wind. Miss Rutherford had a wonderful sense of humor, a joy for life, and by the end you feel as if you have gained a dear friend.

Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) with Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Lana Turner

For a number of years, Ann was under contract to the studio who boasted they had “more stars than there were in the heavens.” Ann’s recollections of the inner workings of her most beloved MGM and the glittering actresses who worked there are fascinating. Some of the stars she mentions are Greer Garson, whom she called Greer Dear, Lana Turner, and she reflects on the first time she heard Judy Garland sing (as part of The Gumm Sisters).

Gone with the Wind (1939)
-Screenshot by me-

I particularly enjoyed reading the behind the scenes tidbits on The Wind: how Ann got the part; how she influenced Selznick’s choices in the makeup department; her memories of filming; her opinions of her cast mates; and her exciting experience of attending the premieres and Oscar ceremony.

Ann with Rand Brooks (Charles Hamilton) at the Hollywood premiere – 1939

I also appreciated Ann’s never ending commitment to the promotion of the picture by donating her memorabilia to the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum in Atlanta and proudly attending various events honoring the film throughout her life.

Olivia de Havilland, Evelyn Keyes, Ann, and Victor Jory at the 1960’s showing of the film

Image: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/37/17/15/371715fed4e28326df0a91ec19a8df8a.jpg

Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O’Hara), Ann, and Rand Brooks (Charles Hamilton) – 2002

Image: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/12/movies/12keyes.html

The story of how Ann got into the movies is quite fun in itself, and the lengths she went into preparing for her first roles are both astounding and hilarious; however, that just barely scratches the surface of what this book contains. Throughout her career, Ann worked in radio, television, and built up an extensive filmography. Her leading men included John Wayne, Gene Autry, Jimmy Stewart, Errol Flynn, and Red Skelton.

The Lawless Nineties (1936) with John Wayne; Of Human Hearts (1938) with Jimmy Stewart; The Adventures of Don Juan (1948) with Errol Flynn

Images: Pinterest

Several surprises lie in wait for those who go on to read The Charms of Miss O’Hara. I don’t want to spoil the fun by giving everything away!

Whistling in Dixie (1942) with Red Skelton and Diana Lewis

For this classic movie fan, this book is paradise. I’ve read my copy twice already, and I know that I will read it again and again. It’s like stepping into a time machine and going back into the glorious, magical days of Old Hollywood led by a friend who knows all the people you’ve always wanted to meet and who’s been to the places you’ve always wanted to go.

Thank you, Phillip Done, for such a wonderful book and tribute to an inspiring lady who was truly as charming as the title indicates.

You can buy today’s lovely book by clicking here.

Thanks for reading and for visiting The Classic Movie Muse!

-Images are in the public domain unless otherwise noted-