Rhett in Gone with the Wind (1939)
February 1, 1916 |
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, portrait painter|
Alicia Rhett (born February 1, 1916) is an American portrait painter and actress who is best remembered for her role as India Wilkes in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind. She is the oldest surviving cast member of the movie. Also surviving is Olivia de Havilland (born July 1, 1916), who played India's sister-in-law Melanie Wilkes, Mary Anderson (born April 3, 1920), who played Maybelle Merriweather and Mickey Kuhn (born September 21, 1932) who played Beau Wilkes.
Rhett was born in Savannah, Georgia. Her mother was Isabelle Murdoch, an immigrant from Liverpool, England, and her father was Edmund M. Rhett, an army officer and engineer based in Savannah. After her father's death during World War I, Alicia and her mother moved to Charleston, South Carolina. Rhett became a theatre actress in Charleston.
Gone with the Wind
During a performance of The Recruiting Officer in 1936, Rhett was spotted by Hollywood director George Cukor, who was impressed by her charm and beauty. The director was scouting for an actress to play the role of Scarlett O'Hara after producer David Selznick purchased the film rights to the Margaret Mitchell novel. Previously, Rhett had been suggested by talent scout Kay Brown as a possible Southern belle for that film. Rhett auditioned for the part of Melanie Hamilton, but the role went instead to Olivia de Havilland. In March 1937, Cukor offered Rhett the role of India Wilkes, sister of Ashley Wilkes.
After the success of Gone with the Wind, Rhett left Hollywood and returned to South Carolina and retired from filmmaking in 1941, citing a lack of suitable roles. Rhett later became an accent coach for aspiring actors and a radio announcer at station WTMA in Charleston.
Prior to appearing in Gone with the Wind, Rhett showed talent as a sketch artist and portrait painter. Between takes on Gone with the Wind, she made sketches and drawings of her fellow actors. Soon, Rhett was creating portraits of American servicemen in the Charleston vicinity. Some of her later works included portraits of Admiral Louis Emil Denfeld, and librarian Estellene P. Walker, the latter of which is on display in the South Carolina State Library. Coincidentally, Rhett was commissioned to paint the portrait of a then 19 year old Charleston resident Alexandra Braid, later known as Alexandra Ripley, author of Scarlett (1991), the sequel to Gone with the Wind. Rhett also illustrated a number of books, including South Carolina Indians (1965) written by Beth Causey and Leila Darby. Of particular note, Charlotte Brown Lide commissioned Ms. Rhett to paint a portrait of her late husband, Claudius Murray Lide, Sr., and the same year painted a reproduction of William Harrison Scarborough's "The Miller Sisters". These two portraits are housed in the home of Claudius Murray Lide, Jr. in Columbia, South Carolina.
- Gone with the Wind (1939) as India Wilkes
- Richard Harland Smith. "Overview for Alicia Rhett". Leonard Maltin Classic Movie Guide. Turner Entertainment Networks. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
- Harlan Greene (March 2011). "Artist and actress Alicia Rhett ventured from the Holy City to Hollywood and back again". Arts: In Pictures. Charleston Magazine. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
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