Passport
Full Episode
Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel

Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel engages leading historians, biographers and personal friends to reveal a complex woman who experienced profound identity shifts during her life and struggled with the two great issues of her day: the changing role of women and the liberation of African Americans. A charismatic force until a tragic accident lead to her death at age 48, Mitchell rebelled against the stifling social restrictions placed on women: as an unconventional tomboy, a defiant debutante, a brazen flapper, one of Georgia’s first female newspaper reporters, and, later, as a philanthropist who risked her life to fund African American education. Emmy®-winning executive producer/writer Pamela Roberts uses reenactments based on Mitchell’s personal letters and journals to show how her upbringing and romantic relationships influenced the creation of Gone With the Wind. The film also explores Scarlett and Rhett’s place as two of the world’s greatest lovers and the public’s initial reception to the book and David O. Selznick’s 1939 epic film – from racial lightning rod to model for survival. 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize win for the only book published during her lifetime and Gone With the Wind’s lasting popularity seems permanently etched in the American cultural landscape.

Transcript Print

SHE WAS ALWAYS A WRITER AND ALWAYS A REBEL.

SHE WAS A DEBUTANTE WHO CHALLENGED SOCIETY WITH A BRAZEN DANCE, A REPORTER WHO ROAMED TOWN WHEN WOMEN STAYED AT HOME.

A PHILANTHROPIST WHO RISKED HER LIFE TO BE GENEROUS.

A BORN STORYTELLER, SHE PRODUCED JUST ONE BOOK, BUT IT WOULD BECOME THE MOST POPULAR NOVEL EVER WRITTEN AND ONE OF THE MOST BELOVED FILMS OF ALL TIME.

SHE GAVE US SCARLETT O'HARA AND RHETT BUTLER, TWO OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST LOVERS.

LIKE SCARLETT, SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL AND BRASH.

LIKE SCARLETT, SHE HAD GUMPTION.

SHE WAS MARGARET MITCHELL, AN AMERICAN REBEL.

[ TYPEWRITER BELL CHIMES ] MARGARET MITCHELL WAS BORN WITH THE NEW CENTURY IN 1900.

Narrator: MITCHELL'S HOMETOWN, ATLANTA, WAS BURNED TO THE GROUND IN THE CIVIL WAR.

FIRE WOULD IMPACT MITCHELL'S LIFE WHEN SHE WAS JUST 3 YEARS OLD.

Man: MARGARET MITCHELL HAD A PECULIAR IDENTITY.

SHE IS NOT A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN BELLE.

WHY DID SHE NOT FIT THAT MODEL?

HER BROTHER EXPLAINED THE STORY THAT WHEN SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL, SHE'S PLAYING NEAR THE FIRE, AND HER SKIRT CAUGHT FIRE.

[ CHILD SCREAMS ] Narrator: THE FIRE DID NOT HARM YOUNG MARGARET MITCHELL BUT IT CHANGED HER IDENTITY.

Woman: FROM THAT POINT ON, IN HER CHILDHOOD, HER MOTHER DRESSED HER IN PANTS.

AND THE NEIGHBORS REFERRED TO HER AS 'JIMMY.'

AND SHE WORE A LITTLE CAP AND SHE WORE TROUSERS AND SHE WAS A CUTE LITTLE CHILD BECAUSE, OF COURSE, MARGARET WAS VERY PETITE.

Narrator: MITCHELL LIKED BEING CALLED 'JIMMY.'

IN AN ERA WHEN LITTLE GIRLS WERE EXPECTED TO PLAY WITH DOLLS, SHE PLAYED BASEBALL AND WAS 'ONE OF THE BOYS.'

THE ATLANTA OF MITCHELL'S CHILDHOOD WAS A CITY ON THE MAKE.

ITS MOTTO WAS 'THE PHOENIX RISING FROM THE ASHES.'

IT WAS A MAJOR RAILROAD CENTER, THERE WAS LOTS OF MANUFACTURING GOING ON HERE.

IT WAS A HUSTLING, BUSTLING, STRIVING COMMUNITY.

Pyron: ATLANTA IS NOT A GREAT BIG CITY IN 1900.

IT HAS A GREAT BIG IDEA OF ITSELF IN 1900.

Narrator: MITCHELL'S PARENTS BOUGHT INTO THAT BIG IDEA.

HER FATHER, EUGENE MITCHELL, WAS A LAWYER WHO HELPED BUILD ATLANTA'S FIRST PUBLIC LIBRARY AND COFOUNDED THE ATLANTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

HER FATHER WAS INTERESTED IN HISTORY AND PROBABLY A VERY SMART MAN.

HE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN A LITTLE DOUR AND ILL-TEMPERED.

Narrator: MITCHELL'S PARENTS WERE EMOTIONAL OPPOSITES.

HER MOTHER MAYBELLE WAS A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH.

Haskell: SHE WAS A VERY STERN SORT OF MORALISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL WOMAN.

VERY WELL READ. SHE SPOKE SEVERAL LANGUAGES.

HER GRANDFATHER WAS BORN IN IRELAND.

SHE HAS A VERY, VERY STRONG IRISH IDENTITY AND AN INTENSE CATHOLIC IDENTITY.

Narrator: MAYBELLE MITCHELL EXPECTED GREAT THINGS OF MARGARET, AND MARGARET'S OLDER BROTHER, STEPHENS.

Pyron: STEPHENS MITCHELL SAID HIS MOTHER SAW LIFE AS A SOLDIER'S POST.

IN A CLASSIC KIND OF SOUTHERN IMAGERY, HER BACK NEVER TOUCHED THE BACK OF A CHAIR.

SO, BACK STRAIGHT UP ALL THE TIME.

Narrator: AS AN ADULT, MITCHELL WROTE OF HER CHILDHOOD, OF SUNDAYS SPENT IN THE COUNTRY, WHERE SHE HEARD STORIES OF THE CIVIL WAR.

Woman: SHE WAS STRUCK BY THE TOUGHNESS OF HER MOM, 'TOUGH' MEANING RESISTANT, STRONG, HAVING GREAT ENDURANCE.

AND, IN FACT, SHE SAID SHE WAS 10 YEARS OLD BEFORE SHE REALIZED THE SOUTH HAD ACTUALLY LOST THE WAR.

Narrator: IN 'GONE WITH THE WIND,' SCARLETT O'HARA REFUSES TO BELIEVE THAT WAR WILL COME TO THE SOUTH.

Freer: MARGARET WAS BORN A WRITER.

AS HER BROTHER PUT IT, SHE STARTED WRITING AT THE TIME SHE COULD HOLD A PENCIL.

Pyron: MARGARET MITCHELL IS A NATURAL GENIUS.

SHE HAS A SENSE THAT THE WORDS ARE NOT JUST FOR CONVEYING DATA BUT A MEANS OF CONVEYING FEELINGS AS WELL.

Narrator: MARGARET MITCHELL, AS THE FREE-SPIRITED JIMMY, WAS A WRITER.

BUT NOT MUCH OF A STUDENT.

Pyron: CLEARLY, SHE DID NOT LIKE SCHOOL.

SHE WAS TERRIBLE IN THE CLASSROOM.

SHE TALKS ALL THE TIME, BAD ATTENTION SPAN.

THIS ALSO SETS UP A PROBLEM OF CONFLICT WITH HER MOTHER, BECAUSE HER MOTHER BELIEVED IN THIS KIND OF ABSOLUTE, DISCIPLINED SORT OF EDUCATION.

Haskell: SHE PAID HER 25 CENTS TO READ DICKENS AND THACKERAY, AND MARGARET MITCHELL REBELLED BY NOT READING THEM AND READING THRILLERS AND ROMANCES.

MARGARET MITCHELL HAS TWO REALLY CLEAR NOTIONS ABOUT HER MOTHER, SO THAT SHE ASSOCIATED HER MOTHER WITH PUNISHMENT.

BUT THE OTHER SIDE, SHE ALSO DESCRIBED HER AS HER SAINT.

Narrator: IN THE FIRST TWO DECADES OF THE 20th CENTURY, MAYBELLE MITCHELL WAS AN IMPASSIONED LEADER IN THE SOUTHERN SUFFRAGIST MOVEMENT.

Haskell: HER MOTHER WAS A SUFFRAGETTE.

MAYBELLE WAS AN ACTIVIST, WHICH WAS VERY UNUSUAL IN THAT DAY AND AGE.

MARGARET MITCHELL WAS BORN IN 1900, SO THAT MEANS HER MOTHER WAS AMONG THAT WAVE OF SUFFRAGETTES THAT GOT WOMEN THE VOTE IN 1920.

Narrator: MITCHELL REVERED HER MOTHER, BUT IN HER JOURNAL, SHE WROTE OF A LONGING THAT WOULD NEVER BE SATISFIED.

Narrator: MANY YEARS LATER, MITCHELL WOULD WRITE OF A DIFFERENT MOTHER IN 'GONE WITH THE WIND.'

A MOTHER SO PERFECT, SHE WAS UNREACHABLE FOR THE LIKES OF SCARLETT O'HARA.

Narrator: AS A SIGN OF THEIR GROWING PROSPERITY, MITCHELL'S FAMILY MOVED INTO A MANSION ON ATLANTA'S PEACH TREE STREET.

THE MOVE WAS UPSETTING TO THE REBELLIOUS TOMBOY AND MAY HAVE TRIGGERED THE FIRST OF MANY ACCIDENTS WHICH WOULD CAST A SHADOW OVER HER LIFE.

[ HORSE WHINNIES ] SHE HAD A VERY SERIOUS ACCIDENT WITH THE HORSE.

IT FELL ON HER.

AND THAT WAS THE SAME LEG THAT WAS LATER INJURED IN LIFE AND I THINK WAS VERY PROBLEMATIC.

I'M NOT SURE THAT IT EVER TRULY HEALED.

MARGARET MITCHELL ALWAYS HAS SOMETHING GOING THE MATTER WITH HER.

IT WAS SOMETHING LIKE BEING ACCIDENT-PRONE.

Narrator: ACCIDENT-PRONE OR NOT, MITCHELL HAD IRREPRESSIBLE ENERGY.

AS A TEENAGER, SHE BEGAN WRITING AND STAGING PLAYS.

Haskell: SHE ADAPTED PLAYWRIGHTS, BUT SHE WROTE HER OWN PLAYS.

AND A LOT OF THEM HAVE VERY INTERESTING KIND OF CROSS-GENDER THEMES.

SHE HAS GIRLS ACTING LIKE BOYS.

SO SHE'S VERY ATTUNED TO KIND OF CHANGING TIMES FOR WOMEN.

Narrator: THE YOUNG PLAYWRIGHT MAY HAVE BEEN AN EARLY FEMINIST, BUT SHE WAS STILL PART OF A RACIALLY DIVIDED CULTURE.

IN 1915, D.W. GRIFFITH'S 'THE BIRTH OF A NATION' WAS ALL THE RAGE.

HAILED AS A BREAKTHROUGH IN MOTION PICTURES, FEW IN MITCHELL'S WORLD SEEMED TO NOTICE THE MOVIE'S RACISM.

Narrator: MITCHELL'S NEW PLAY WAS AN ADAPTATION OF A NOVEL CALLED 'THE TRAITOR,' ABOUT THE DECLINE OF THE KU KLUX KLAN.

SHE DECIDED TO PLAY THE VILLAIN WHO BETRAYED THE HEROIC KKK.

Haskell: THIS WAS JIM CROW, AND EVEN NORTHERNERS WHO BELIEVED IN INTEGRATION DIDN'T NECESSARILY BELIEVE IN EQUALITY, SO THIS IS THE WORLD SHE WAS IN, AND IT MAKES US VERY UNCOMFORTABLE TODAY.

Narrator: AS A CHILD, MITCHELL HAD LIVED THROUGH ATLANTA'S TERRIFYING RACE RIOT OF 1906.

SHE NEW RACIAL VIOLENCE AND SEGREGATION FIRSTHAND.

IN ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, SHE WOULD DEAL WITH THESE ISSUES FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE.

RACE WAS NOT AN ISSUE AT WASHINGTON SEMINARY, WHERE MITCHELL ATTENDED HIGH SCHOOL.

BUT IT WAS NOT HER KIND OF PLACE.

Pyron: IT'S A VERY CLIQUEY PLACE.

RICH GIRLS, RICH WHITE GIRLS.

THE PRETTY ONES AND THE BRIGHT ONES AND THE GOOD ONES AND ALL THE REST WHO ABIDED BY THE RULES AND SO FORTH.

AND THERE'S A KIND OF NATURAL DISHARMONY BETWEEN MITCHELL AND ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE.

SHE WORE MEN'S CLOTHES.

I MEAN, HER CLOTHES WERE WAY-OUT.

AND I THINK, FOR THAT REASON, PEOPLE SORT OF LOOKED AT HER LIKE, 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING?'

Pyron: SHE LIKES PLAYING AT THE EDGE OF SOCIAL ORDER, WHICH IS ALSO PLAYING AT THE EDGE OF REVOLUTION.

Narrator: AT WASHINGTON SEMINARY, MITCHELL'S WRITING REACHED A NEW LEVEL OF MATURITY AND INTENSITY.

[ GUNSHOT ] Narrator: IN HER STORY 'LITTLE SISTER,' MITCHELL CREATED THE CHARACTER OF PEGGY, A NICKNAME FOR MARGARET.

AFTER GRADUATING FROM WASHINGTON SEMINARY, PEGGY WOULD BE HER NEW PERSONA.

Pyron: SO THAT THIS IS A KIND OF PERSONA THAT ALLOWS HER TO BE CREATIVE, TO BE... TO BE WILD.

NOBODY IN HER FAMILY CALLED HER PEGGY.

Narrator: PEGGY WAS MITCHELL'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, AND PEGGY WAS AMBITIOUS.

Narrator: IN THE SPRING OF 1917, THE UNITED STATES ENTERED WORLD WAR I.

YOUNG OFFICERS FROM ACROSS THE NATION CAME SOUTH FOR TRAINING.

THAT'S WHEN MITCHELL MET LIEUTENANT CLIFFORD HENRY.

Pyron: CLIFFORD HENRY BELONGED TO AN UPPER-CLASS, SILK STOCKING, OLD NEW YORKER FAMILY.

HE WENT TO HARVARD.

HE WAS HANDSOME.

Narrator: AFTER A WHIRLWIND ROMANCE, 17-YEAR-OLD MITCHELL BECAME ENGAGED TO CLIFFORD HENRY.

Pyron: ALL OF THESE SOLDIERS COMING INTO THE HOUSES, WITH A SENSE OF BOTH GLORY AND IMPENDING DOOM, IT'S VERY ROMANTIC.

Narrator: WITHIN A MONTH, HE WOULD BE FIGHTING IN EUROPE, AND SHE WOULD BE ON HER WAY TO SMITH COLLEGE IN MASSACHUSETTS.

MAYBELLE EXPECTED HER DAUGHTER MARGARET TO PURSUE AN EDUCATION.

SHE ENVISIONED A MEDICAL CAREER.

Pyron: SHE'S NOT HAPPY AT SMITH THAT YEAR.

ALSO, THIS IS HER MOTHER'S DECISION.

IT'S NOT REALLY HER OWN DECISION.

Clark: HER MOTHER'S VISION FOR MARGARET AND HER MOTHER'S ROLE IN LIFE NEVER SEEMED TO FIT WELL FOR WHO MARGARET WAS.

Narrator: MITCHELL SAW HERSELF AS PROGRESSIVE, BUT SHE WAS NOT READY FOR SMITH COLLEGE.

Pyron: WHEN SHE WAS AT SMITH, SHE WAS TAKING AN AMERICAN HISTORY COURSE, AND THERE'S A SINGLE BLACK WOMAN IN THE CLASS.

Narrator: MITCHELL REFUSED TO BE IN CLASS WITH THE BLACK STUDENT.

SHE ASKED TO BE TRANSFERRED.

Clark: SITTING IN A CLASSROOM WITH AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDENT OFFENDED HER UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT WAS AN APPROPRIATE CONTEXT FOR BLACKS AND WHITES TO RELATE TO ONE ANOTHER.

I THINK THAT MARGARET MITCHELL REFLECTED THE COMMUNITY THAT SHE WAS IN.

I THINK SHE REFLECTED THE OPINIONS AND VALUES OF MANY OF THE PEOPLE THAT SHE KNEW.

Narrator: AS UPPER-CLASS SOUTHERNERS, MITCHELL'S FAMILY HAD LIFELONG, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH BLACK DOMESTICS.

IN A LETTER TO HER MOTHER, MITCHELL DEFENDED HER ACTIONS AT SMITH.

MARGARET MITCHELL WAS A PERSON OF HER TIME, AND SHE WAS NOT A RADICAL ACTIVIST, FEMINIST, VOICE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE, BUT SHE WAS ALSO NOT ALTOGETHER CONTENT WITH THE RACIAL STATUS QUO.

Narrator: MITCHELL'S YEAR AT SMITH WOULD BE MARKED BY TRAGEDY.

IN OCTOBER, HER FIANCE CLIFFORD HENRY WAS KILLED IN FRANCE, JUST AS THE WAR WAS ENDING.

SHE WOULD NEVER FORGET HIM.

Pyron: SHE ALWAYS SENT MR. AND MRS. HENRY FLOWERS ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF CLIFFORD HENRY'S DEATH.

FOR 30 YEARS.

UP UNTIL SHE DIED.

Narrator: THREE MONTHS LATER, HER MOTHER MAYBELLE WAS STRICKEN WITH INFLUENZA.

MITCHELL TOOK THE NEXT TRAIN TO ATLANTA BUT ARRIVED TOO LATE.

Pyron: HER MOTHER'S DEAD, AND HER MOTHER HAS WRITTEN HER A DEATHBED LETTER, WHICH... IS SIMPLY EXTRAORDINARY.

Pyron: IT IS DEVOID OF AFFECTION.

IT'S ALL ABOUT DUTY, WHAT YOU SHOULD DO AND WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T DO.

Pyron: IT'S VERY OBJECTIVE, IT'S INTENSELY RATIONAL.

AND IT'S ALSO A TANGLE.

SO SHE SAYS, 'YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOURSELF,' AND THEN SHE SAYS, 'OF COURSE, WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOURSELF IS WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOUR HUSBAND.'

Narrator: MAYBELLE HAD WON THE RIGHT TO VOTE, BUT SHE HAD NOT RESOLVED THE CONFLICT BETWEEN FAMILY AND FREEDOM.

ONLY 18, MITCHELL WAS LEFT ALONE TO CARRY ON THE STRUGGLE.

Narrator: MITCHELL HAD LONGED FOR HER MOTHER'S LOVE, BUT MAYBELLE GAVE HER A DIFFERENT GIFT -- THE FIERCE MODEL OF A WOMAN AHEAD OF HER TIME.

AT HER FATHER'S INSISTENCE, MITCHELL FINISHED THE YEAR AT SMITH COLLEGE.

MISERABLE, SHE WROTE TO HER BROTHER.

Narrator: SHE RETURNED TO ATLANTA.

HER FORMAL EDUCATION WAS OVER.

BUT HER ROARING TWENTIES WERE JUST BEGINNING.

♪♪ THE ROARING TWENTIES WERE MADE TO ORDER FOR MARGARET MITCHELL.

SHE BECAME A FLAPPER.

Haskell: I THINK, IN HER FLAPPER PHASE, SHE'S SCARLETT ALL THE WAY.

Pyron: SHE'S VERY, VERY SEXY AND VERY ATTRACTIVE.

Narrator: YOUNG WOMEN OF MITCHELL'S SOCIAL CLASS WERE EXPECTED TO BECOME DEBUTANTES.

WITH A STRONG SENSE OF IRONY, SHE GAVE IT A WHIRL.

Narrator: DEBUTANTES WERE CONSTANTLY IN THE NEWS.

MITCHELL WAS INTERVIEWED AFTER ORGANIZING A GROUP CALLED 'THE REBEL DEBUTANTES.'

Narrator: IN 'THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE,' RUDOLPH VALENTINO ELECTRIFIED AUDIENCES WITH A STEAMY TANGO.

MITCHELL DECIDED TO PERFORM A FRENCH VERSION OF THE DANCE AT A DEBUTANTE BALL.

Woman: MARGARET HAD A DANCE PARTNER THAT SHE DID THE 'APACHE,' WHICH, AT THAT PARTICULAR TIME, IT WAS A VERY EDGY DANCE.

SHE WORE GARTERS AND SHE HAD LITTLE JINGLE BELLS ON THEM, SO EVERY TIME SHE MOVED, SHE JINGLED.

HER PARTNER KIND OF ROUGHED HER UP.

SHE KIND OF CRAWLED AROUND THE FLOOR A LITTLE BIT.

AND THEN IT ENDS WITH A DIP AND A SOULFUL KISS.

Narrator: MITCHELL'S PERFORMANCE HIT THE NEWSPAPERS.

SHE WAS THE TALK OF THE TOWN AND WAS BLACKBALLED FROM MEMBERSHIP IN THE JUNIOR LEAGUE.

Pyron: SHE THEN IS KIND OF AN OFFICIAL PARIAH AMONG THE ELITES.

Woman: THAT'S JUST THE WAY SHE WAS KNOWN BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T FIT INTO WHAT SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO FIT INTO, WHICH WAS A JUST ORDINARY, EVERYDAY, SWEET, NICE SOUTHERN GIRL.

SHE HAD SENSE.

Narrator: DURING THIS PERIOD, MITCHELL HAD ANOTHER HORSEBACK-RIDING ACCIDENT AND INJURED THE SAME ANKLE.

ALONG WITH THE ACCIDENT CAME A SERIOUS BOUT OF DEPRESSION.

Narrator: CALLING HERSELF 'THE VAMP DELUXE,' MITCHELL HID HER DEPRESSION FROM THE WORLD.

SUITERS WERE VYING FOR HER ATTENTION, AND BY 1921, SHE HAD NARROWED THE FIELD TO TWO VERY DIFFERENT MEN.

Haskell: RED UPSHAW WAS A CHARACTER.

HE WAS SORT OF THE MODEL FOR RHETT, BECAUSE HE WAS A ROGUE AND A RENEGADE AND HE WAS A KIND OF SWAGGERING CHARACTER, BUT WITHOUT THE CHARM OF RHETT.

Narrator: JOHN MARSH DIDN'T HAVE RED UPSHAW'S CHARISMA, BUT HE WAS A GOOD NEWSPAPERMAN WHO LOVED LITERATURE.

I THINK HE FELL IN LOVE WITH HER WHEN HE FIRST SAW HER.

AND, BUT SHE LIKED HIM, BUT I DON'T THINK SHE LOVED HIM.

Narrator: MITCHELL BEGAN DATING BOTH RED UPSHAW AND JOHN MARSH.

Man: SHE SORT OF WENT BACK AND FORTH.

IN FACT, I THINK EVEN THERE'S SOME NIGHTS WHERE SHE HAD DATES WITH BOTH OF THEM.

SHE WOULD GO OUT WITH ONE, COME HOME, THE OTHER ONE WOULD BE WAITING HIS TURN.

Narrator: MITCHELL FINALLY MADE UP HER MIND.

SHE MARRIED RED UPSHAW.

Haskell: NOBODY UNDERSTOOD WHAT SHE SAW IN HIM.

HE WAS A BOOTLEGGER.

HE WAS DOWN ON HIS LUCK, AND ALSO THERE WAS SOMETHING A LITTLE DANGEROUS ABOUT HIM.

Narrator: THE LONG-SUFFERING JOHN MARSH WAS BEST MAN IN THE WEDDING.

RED UPSHAW HAD NO JOB, SO THE COUPLE MOVED INTO THE PEACH TREE HOME, UNDER HER FATHER'S DISAPPROVING EYE.

IT WAS HORRIBLE, ALMOST FROM THE BEGINNING, BUT THE ONE STRANGELY GOOD THING THAT CAME OUT OF IT, HE WAS SO UNSUCCESSFUL THAT SHE HAD TO GO TO WORK.

Narrator: EUGENE MITCHELL WAS UPSET BY HIS DAUGHTER'S PLAN TO GET A JOB.

Clark: FOR A MARRIED WOMAN TO GO OUT AND WORK WAS JUST SOMETHING ONE DID NOT DO, IN EUGENE MITCHELL'S EYES.

NOT IF ONE WANTED TO MAINTAIN A RESPECTABLE POSITION IN SOCIETY.

Narrator: MITCHELL FAST-TALKED HER WAY INTO A JOB WRITING FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL SUNDAY MAGAZINE.

Pyron: JOURNALISM IN THIS PERIOD IS EXTREMELY EXCITING.

PEOPLE ARE TRYING NEW THINGS, DOING NEW THINGS.

SHE IS ABSOLUTELY IN HER ELEMENT WHEN SHE'S DOING JOURNALISM IN THIS PERIOD.

Narrator: MITCHELL EMERGED AS A POPULAR WRITER KNOWN FOR HER STORYTELLING SKILLS.

SHE INTERVIEWED THE FAMOUS AND THE INFAMOUS, WORKED IN DANGEROUS PARTS OF TOWN, AND SPENT TIME WITH PRISONERS ON DEATH ROW.

SHE RELISHED THE ROLE OF DAREDEVIL, PERFORMING STUNTS LIKE RAPPELLING OFF A BUILDING IN DOWNTOWN ATLANTA.

ONE WAY TO LOOK AT MARGARET MITCHELL IS AS A MODERN WOMAN OF THE NEW SOUTH.

SHE ENTERED A PROFESSION THAT WAS LARGELY A MALE PROFESSION.

Narrator: FLAUNTING CONVENTION, SHE USED HER MAIDEN NAME AS HER BYLINE.

Haskell: THERE'S SUCH A STRONG FEMINIST SENSE IN HER.

SHE WAS INTERESTED IN WOMEN WORKING.

SHE DID ARTICLES ABOUT, DID WOMEN WANT TO CONTINUE TO WORK AFTER THEY MARRIED?

Narrator: RED UPSHAW DISAPPEARED SOON AFTER MITCHELL BEGAN WORKING.

HE RETURNED SEVERAL MONTHS LATER, PENNILESS AND ANGRY.

Haskell: THE MARRIAGE WITH RED UPSHAW WAS A DISASTER AND THERE WAS VIOLENCE.

HE BEAT HER AND MAY HAVE EVEN TRIED TO RAPE HER AT ONE POINT.

Narrator: MITCHELL DIVORCED RED UPSHAW.

IN COURT, SHE TESTIFIED HIS ASSAULTS HAD FORCED HER TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.

Clark: SHE TRANSFORMED THAT EXPERIENCE IN HER FICTION INTO ONE THAT WAS MORE POSITIVE FOR SCARLETT.

MITCHELL HAS DEPICTED WHAT WE MIGHT TERM TO BE A RAPE AS SOMETHING THAT SCARLETT TOOK PLEASURE IN AND THAT HAD POSITIVE CONSEQUENCES FOR HER.

Narrator: MITCHELL, AT AGE 24, HAD ALREADY LEARNED SOME TOUGH LESSONS, BUT LIFE WAS ABOUT TO GET BETTER.

ON JULY 4, 1925, SHE MARRIED JOHN MARSH.

THIS TIME, SHE GOT IT RIGHT.

Parsons: JOHN MARSH WAS A PERFECT HUSBAND FOR HER BECAUSE HE ADMIRED HER GREATLY.

HE WAS A WRITER AND A JOURNALIST.

AND THEY LIKED THEIR LIFE TOGETHER.

I THINK THEY HAD A WONDERFUL MARRIAGE.

Narrator: THEY LIVED IN A TINY APARTMENT MITCHELL CALLED 'THE DUMP.'

MARSH NOW WORKED FOR GEORGIA POWER, AND MITCHELL HAD A REPORTER'S JOB, UNTIL SHE HURT HER LEG AGAIN.

Narrator: AS IN THE PAST, MITCHELL'S LEG INJURY COINCIDED WITH THE RETURN OF DEPRESSION.

Haskell: SHE IS VERY VOLATILE, EMOTIONALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY, DURING THIS PERIOD.

AND I THINK IT'S BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO WRITE.

IT WAS OKAY TO WRITE FOR THE PAPER.

Narrator: BUT WRITING FOR THE PAPER WAS NO LONGER ENOUGH.

MITCHELL SEEMED TO HAVE HIT A BRICK WALL.

CITING THE INJURY, SHE QUIT HER JOB.

SHE WAS PRETTY BORED BEING HOME ALL DAY WHILE JOHN WAS AT WORK.

HE WOULD STOP BY THE LIBRARY AND HE WOULD BRING ARMLOADS OF BOOKS HOME FOR HER TO READ.

ONE DAY, WHEN JOHN FELT THAT HE HAD EXHAUSTED ALL OF THE SOURCES AT THE LIBRARY, HE JUST TOLD HER, HE SAID, 'YOU NEED TO QUIT READING AND WRITE YOUR OWN BOOK.'

Narrator: MITCHELL WANTED TO WRITE A NOVEL.

SHE HAD WORKED ON A JAZZ AGE STORY BUT DISCARDED IT.

THEN SHE REMEMBERED AN INCIDENT FROM HER CHILDHOOD.

HER MOTHER WAS JUST FURIOUS WITH HER FOR SAYING THAT.

AND, APPARENTLY, SHE JUST PICKED THE CHILD UP AND PLOPPED HER IN THAT BUGGY THAT THEY HAD.

Wiley: PLANTATIONS THAT HAD BEEN BURNED BY SHERMAN AS HE CAME THROUGH GEORGIA DURING THE CIVIL WAR.

Wiley: AND YOU'D BETTER HAVE SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN HANG ONTO.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOMETHING WITHIN YOU TO SURVIVE AND MAKE IT THROUGH THIS LIFE.

Narrator: MITCHELL HAD FOUND HER STORY.

[ TYPEWRITER TYPING ] Wiley: SHE CLEARLY HAD THE GREAT PLOT OUTLINE IN HER MIND BEFORE SHE STARTED WRITING IT.

Narrator: MITCHELL WROTE HER INITIAL DRAFTS QUICKLY.

IT WAS LIKE SHE HAD A KIND OF VISION.

SHE SAW THESE THINGS DANCING BEFORE HER AND HER DUTY THEN BECAME TO TRANSLATE THESE IMAGES DANCING BEFORE HER INTO THE PRINTED WORD.

Narrator: MITCHELL WAS DEEPLY INSECURE AS A WRITER.

ONLY JOHN MARSH KNEW SHE WAS WORKING ON A NOVEL.

Haskell: HE WAS JUST A WONDERFUL SOUNDING BOARD FOR HER, A WONDERFUL READER.

THE BOOK, THE CHARACTERS, THE PEOPLE ARE ALL OF HERS.

BUT JOHN MARSH WAS HER EDITOR.

SHE HAD THE ADVANTAGE OF LIVING WITH HER EDITOR, BEING MARRIED TO HIM.

Narrator: BECAUSE OF THE LEG INJURY, MITCHELL OFTEN WROTE IN PAIN.

A NEW PERSONA WAS BEGINNING TO EMERGE.

Haskell: SHE LOVED TO DANCE, AND NOW SHE HAD TO WEAR THESE ORTHOPEDIC SHOES.

THAT WAS A HUGE THING.

THE ORTHOPEDIC SHOES THAT MADE HER FEEL LIKE A LITTLE OLD LADY, MATRONLY.

Narrator: SHE WAS LEAVING PEGGY BEHIND FOR THE MORE MATRONLY MARGARET.

BUT SHE NEVER LOST HER SENSE OF HUMOR.

SHE STARTED WRITING THE NOVEL IN 1926.

SHE FINISHED IT, ESSENTIALLY, IN 1929, JUST ABOUT THE TIME OF THE GREAT CRASH.

SO SHE HAD COMPLETED THE NOVEL IN THREE YEARS.

Narrator: IN MITCHELL'S MIND, THE MANUSCRIPT WAS FAR FROM COMPLETE.

SHE WORKED ON IT SPORADICALLY OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS AND THEN FINALLY ABANDONED IT.

Narrator: MITCHELL MADE NO EFFORT TO PUBLISH HER BOOK.

UNTIL FATE INTERVENED.

IN THE SPRING OF 1935, AN EXECUTIVE FROM MacMILLAN PUBLISHING COMPANY IN NEW YORK CAME TO ATLANTA ON A BOOK SCOUTING TOUR.

Narrator: HAROLD LATHAM WAS LOOKING FOR NEW WRITERS.

HE HAD HEARD INTRIGUING STORIES ABOUT A CERTAIN MARGARET MITCHELL OF ATLANTA.

AT FIRST, SHE SAID SHE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A BOOK.

DIDN'T WANT TO TALK TO HIM.

FINALLY, HE KEPT GOING, AND SHE ADMITTED, WELL, SHE WAS WORKING ON SOMETHING, BUT IT WASN'T READY TO BE SEEN.

Haskell: SHE KNEW ENOUGH TO KNOW HER LIMITATIONS.

SHE KNEW SHE WASN'T LITERARY.

EVEN FROM THE BEGINNING, SHE KNEW SHE WOULD BE JUDGED BY LITERARY STANDARDS AND SHE HAD MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THAT.

Narrator: LATHAM GAVE UP AND PREPARED TO LEAVE ATLANTA.

THEN ONE OF MITCHELL'S FRIENDS MADE A REMARK WHICH MAY HAVE CHANGED HISTORY.

AND ONE OF THE WOMEN SUPPOSEDLY SAID SOMETHING LIKE, 'I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU WOULD BE WRITING A BOOK.

YOU'RE NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH TO WRITE A BOOK.'

AND THAT'S ALL IT TOOK, AND SHE'S LIKE, SHE EXPLODES.

Wiley: WHEN HAROLD LATHAM TOOK THE MANUSCRIPT, HE SAYS HE HAD TO GO BUY AN EXTRA SUITCASE, IT WAS SO LARGE.

AND HE ALSO COMMENTED THAT IT WAS THE WORST MANUSCRIPT HE HAD EVER SEEN.

Narrator: THE NEXT DAY ON THE TRAIN, LATHAM RECEIVED A TELEGRAM... BUT HAROLD LATHAM DIDN'T SEND IT BACK.

HE HAD STARTED READING AND WAS ALREADY HOOKED.

WITH PUBLICATION LOOMING BEFORE HER, MITCHELL SPENT MONTHS REVISING AND CORRECTING THE HUGE MANUSCRIPT.

BUT THERE WAS ONE SECTION SHE DIDN'T CHANGE -- SCARLETT'S RETURN TO TARA AFTER SHERMAN'S MARCH THROUGH GEORGIA.

Narrator: 'GONE WITH THE WIND' WAS PUBLISHED JUNE 30, 1936.

THE REVIEWS WERE EXTRAORDINARY.

SALES OF THE BOOK MADE PUBLISHING HISTORY, WHEN A MILLION COPIES SOLD IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS.

Man: THE ENTIRE COUNTRY WENT CRAZY.

THE BOOK CAUSED AN EXPLOSION AT BOOK STORES.

THEY COULD NOT KEEP THEM IN BOOK STORES.

IT WAS ON THE WAY TO BECOMING THE MOST SUCCESSFUL NOVEL EVER PUBLISHED IN AMERICA.

Narrator: 'GONE WITH THE WIND' WAS PUBLISHED AT THE HEIGHT OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION.

SCARLETT'S STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE HAD STRUCK A CHORD IN A VERY DIFFERENT ERA.

MacMILLAN HAD TO CHARGE $3 BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A BIG BOOK.

AND MARGARET MITCHELL WAS ASTONISHED THAT ANYBODY WOULD PAY $3 FOR A BOOK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DEPRESSION.

WHY DOES IT HAVE THE ENORMOUS APPEAL?

IT IS A REALLY GOOD STORY. IT IS A REALLY GOOD STORY.

IT IS A CORKING GOOD STORY.

Narrator: A GOOD STORY HAS TO HAVE A GOOD BEGINNING.

AND MITCHELL HAD STRUGGLED WITH HER FIRST CHAPTER.

Wiley: SHE COULD NOT FIND A WAY TO OPEN THIS BOOK.

EVENTUALLY, IT STARTED WITH A VERY SIMPLE LINE -- I THINK MARGARET MITCHELL WAS THE FIRST ONE TO PUT A WOMAN FRONT AND CENTER.

AND THIS IS DURING THE CIVIL WAR.

BUT WHAT A WOMAN.

Narrator: WITH SCARLETT O'HARA, MITCHELL HAD CREATED ONE OF FICTION'S MOST CAPTIVATING AND INFURIATING CHARACTERS.

Haskell: SHE IS SELFISH, SHE'S GREEDY, SHE'S OBTUSE.

SHE STEALS HER SISTER'S BOYFRIEND.

SHE MARRIES THREE MEN SHE DOESN'T LOVE, BUT SHE'S FIERCELY COURAGEOUS.

SHE'S HONEST, SHE'S STRAIGHTFORWARD.

THERE'S SO MUCH OF THE REBEL IN HER THAT WOMEN AND YOUNG WOMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD HAVE RESPONDED TO THAT.

Narrator: SCARLETT O'HARA MET HER MATCH WITH RHETT BUTLER.

Narrator: THROUGH RHETT BUTLER, MITCHELL VOICED THE HOPELESSNESS OF THE SOUTHERN CAUSE.

Conroy: HIS CHARACTER, I THINK, FOR ME WAS FORMED WHEN HE JOINED THE CONFEDERATE FORCES WHEN THEY WERE DOOMED.

BECAUSE HE KEPT SAYING, 'WE'RE GOING TO LOSE.'

THEY'RE COMING FOR US AND WE DO NOT HAVE THE STRENGTH, THE MILITARY STRENGTH, TO STOP THEM.

Narrator: WITH HER CRITIQUE OF THE SOUTH'S RUSH TO WAR, MITCHELL FEARED A SOUTHERN BACKLASH, BUT THE CRITICISM OF 'GONE WITH THE WIND' WAS ALL ABOUT RACE.

I DO THINK THAT SHE IS TOTALLY GLAMORIZING AND TOTALLY ROMANTICIZING WHAT SLAVERY WAS REALLY LIKE, WHAT BEING A SLAVE OWNER REALLY MEANT ABOUT YOU AS A HUMAN BEING, AND CERTAINLY WHAT IT FELT LIKE TO BE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING OWNED BY SOMEONE WHO COULD SELL YOUR CHILDREN AWAY FROM YOU.

Narrator: ANTICIPATING THAT A MOVIE WOULD BE MADE, MEMBERS OF THE BLACK PRESS DENOUNCED 'GONE WITH THE WIND.'

MITCHELL WAS SHOCKED.

MITCHELL'S BLACK CHARACTERS ARE NOT CHARACTERS, THEY'RE CARICATURES.

IF 'GONE WITH THE WIND' IS THE LAST STATEMENT ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE OF SLAVERY IN AMERICA, IT WOULD BE A HORRENDOUS LEGACY FOR BLACKS TO LIVE WITH.

Narrator: BESSIE JORDAN WAS MITCHELL'S LIFELONG COOK AND CONFIDANTE.

Haskell: SHE GOT ALONG FAMOUSLY WITH HER HOUSEKEEPER, THEY WERE VERY CLOSE, AND HER HOUSEKEEPER WAS LIKE MAMMY.

Bessie: HELLO?

Walker: BESSIE WOULD ANSWER THE PHONE AND SHE WOULD SAY, 'NO, WE DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO MISS SCARLETT OR MR. RHETT.

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM TWO.'

Narrator: MITCHELL WAS BESIEGED BY PEOPLE WANTING TO KNOW IF SCARLETT EVER GOT RHETT BACK.

Bessie: LORD, HAVE MERCY.

Haskell: EVERYONE HAS A YEARNING FOR RHETT AND SCARLETT AS WE ALL DO AND ALL ROMANTIC STORIES, BUT SHE WAS TOUGH, AND SHE DID NOT HAVE THEM GET TOGETHER IN THE END AND I THINK THAT EDGE HAS REALLY GIVEN IT SOMETHING THAT IS VERY UNCONVENTIONAL.

Narrator: FOREIGN SALES OF 'GONE WITH THE WIND' SWEPT THE GLOBE.

MITCHELL WAS SUDDENLY ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS PEOPLE.

SHE WAS SO FAMOUS THAT SHE GOT MAIL, ENVELOPES THAT JUST SAID 'MARGARET MITCHELL -- GONE WITH THE WIND.'

Narrator: MITCHELL HAD ONCE WANTED FAME, BUT THE REALITY OF IT WAS A SHATTERING EXPERIENCE.

[ TELEPHONE RINGS ] Narrator: 'GONE WITH THE WIND' WON THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR LITERATURE IN 1937.

THE BOOK'S PHENOMENAL SUCCESS ATTRACTED HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER DAVID O. SELZNICK, WHO PAID MITCHELL $50,000 FOR THE MOVIE RIGHTS, A RECORD SUM FOR A FIRST NOVEL.

AFTER SELZNICK PURCHASED THE FILM RIGHTS TO 'GONE WITH THE WIND,' HE WANTED MARGARET MITCHELL'S HELP, WHETHER TO HELP HIM WRITE THE SCREENPLAY OR ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT THINGS.

SHE ABSOLUTELY REFUSED.

Narrator: MITCHELL NEVER WENT TO HOLLYWOOD.

INSTEAD, HOLLYWOOD CAME TO HER.

Announcer: GALA DAYS IN DIXIE.

STREAMLINED WINGS OF THE WIND BRING HOLLYWOOD TO ATLANTA FOR A HISTORY-MAKING WORLD PREMIERE OF THE MOTION PICTURE EPIC 'GONE WITH THE WIND.'

SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY IS AT FEVER PITCH AS DISTINGUISHED VISITORS ARRIVE, HEADED BY PRODUCER DAVID SELZNICK AND SCREEN STARS OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND AND VIVIEN LEIGH.

♪♪ Narrator: ON DECEMBER 15, 1939, THE MOVIE OF 'GONE WITH THE WIND' PREMIERED IN ATLANTA.

AS CROWDS SWELLED TO THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, IT WAS APPARENT THE SOUTH HAD BEEN WAITING A LONG TIME FOR THIS MOMENT.

Haskell: THE PREMIERE WAS THE VINDICATION OF THE SOUTH.

IT WAS AS IF THEY HAD FORCED SHERMAN'S ARMY INTO RETREAT.

YOU KNOW, THEIR VICTORY, THE LONG DELAYED VICTORY.

THIS WAS THE FIRST ARTICULATE FIERY RESPONSE FROM THE SOUTH AND FROM THE SOUTHERN WOMAN'S POINT OF VIEW THAT TOLD WHAT THEY CONSIDERED THE TRUE STORY.

Narrator: MITCHELL DID NOT ATTEND THE GLAMOROUS JUNIOR LEAGUE BALL ON THE NIGHT BEFORE THE PREMIERE.

YEARS EARLIER, SHE HAD BEEN BLACKBALLED BY THE JUNIOR LEAGUE AND SOME WONDERED IF SHE WERE GETTING HER REVENGE.

BUT CLARK GABLE FOUND HER AT A PRESS EVENT, PULLED HER INTO A PRIVATE ROOM AND SHUT THE DOOR.

Wiley: WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY SAID, BUT WHEN CLARK GABLE CAME OUT, HE LATER TOLD PEOPLE THAT SHE WAS THE MOST FASCINATING WOMAN HE HAD EVER MET.

THIS IS MARGARET MITCHELL'S NIGHT AND THE PEOPLE OF ATLANTA'S NIGHT.

[ BAND PLAYS ] Announcer: DIMINUTIVE MARGARET MITCHELL, THE AUTHOR, WHO RARELY APPEARS IN PUBLIC ATTENDS TO SEE HER BRAINCHILD.

Narrator: AT THE PREMIERE, MITCHELL SHRANK FROM THE LIMELIGHT, BUT AFTER SEEING THE MOVIE, SHE SAID A FEW WORDS TO THE THEATER AUDIENCE.

Mitchell: THIS PICTURE WAS A GREAT EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE FOR ME.

AND I WANT TO COMMEND MR. SELZNICK'S COURAGE AND HIS DETERMINATION TO GET THE EXACT CAST HE WANTED.

I THINK YOU'LL ALL AGREE WITH ME, HE HAD THE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT CAST.

Narrator: THE MOVIE'S BLACK ACTORS HAD NOT COME TO ATLANTA.

IN THE ERA OF SEGREGATION, THEY WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO STAY IN THE SAME HOTEL AS CLARK GABLE AND VIVIEN LEIGH.

THE FOLLOWING YEAR, HATTIE McDANIEL WOULD BECOME THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN TO WIN AN ACADEMY AWARD FOR HER PORTRAYAL OF MAMMY IN 'GONE WITH THE WIND.'

Haskell: I MEAN WE CANNOT BELIEVE THAT HATTIE McDANIEL WAS THE FIRST BLACK TO WIN AN OSCAR AND COULD NOT COME TO ATLANTA TO THE PREMIERE.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME, EVEN IN HOLLYWOOD, WHEN SHE WENT TO THE OSCARS, SHE WAS AT A TABLE BY HERSELF.

SHE COULDN'T BE WITH THE REST OF THE CAST.

Narrator: IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS AFTER THE PREMIERE, MITCHELL WROTE TO HATTIE McDANIEL.

AND I WISH YOU COULD HAVE HEARD THE CHEERS.

[ APPLAUSE ] Narrator: AS WORLD WAR II RAGED IN EUROPE, THE NAZIS BANNED 'GONE WITH THE WIND.'

THEY CLAIMED IT INSPIRED THE FRENCH RESISTANCE.

Freer: I THINK THE NAZIS WHO BANNED 'GONE WITH THE WIND' WERE AFRAID THAT IT WOULD GIVE PEOPLE HOPE.

IT WOULD GIVE PEOPLE THE WILL TO SURVIVE UNDER OCCUPATION.

Narrator: THE RUSSIANS WOULD LATER BAN 'GONE WITH THE WIND' THROUGHOUT THE SOVIET EMPIRE.

SCARLETT O'HARA WAS NOT A FAN OF WAR, AND THAT MADE HER DANGEROUS.

DURING THE WAR, SHE SENT COUNTLESS NUMBERS OF BOXES, PACKAGES, TO VICTIMS IN THE WAR-TORN COUNTRIES.

BESSIE OFTEN HELPED HER.

Narrator: MITCHELL EMBRACED THE ROLE OF RED CROSS VOLUNTEER AND RAISED MILLIONS FOR THE WAR EFFORT.

Wiley: SHE, OF COURSE, WAS ASKED TO CHRISTEN THE USS SHE RAISED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR THAT AND WENT TO NEW JERSEY TO CHRISTEN THAT SHIP.

Announcer: THE VERY SAME MARGARET MITCHELL WHOSE NOVEL, 'GONE WITH THE WIND,' MADE LITERARY AND MOTION PICTURE HISTORY.

WHAT MORE APPROPRIATE THAN TO HAVE ATLANTA'S FAVORITE DAUGHTER CHRISTEN THE I CHRISTEN THEE THE USS Wiley: WHEN IT WAS SUNK DURING THE WAR, SHE RAISED MONEY AND SHE CHRISTENED A SECOND USS Narrator: BY THE 1940s, MARGARET MITCHELL WAS NOT JUST FAMOUS, SHE WAS RICH.

NOTHING ABOUT HER CHANGED IN ANY SIGNIFICANT WAY WITH THE INCOME FROM 'GONE WITH THE WIND.'

NONE AT ALL.

Walker: INSTEAD OF SPENDING IT ON HERSELF, SHE USED IT WISELY TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE.

Narrator: IN 1942, MITCHELL RECEIVED A LETTER FROM DR. BENJAMIN MAYS, PRESIDENT OF ALL-BLACK MOREHOUSE COLLEGE IN ATLANTA.

HE SAID, 'WILL YOU GIVE ONE SCHOLARSHIP OF $80 FOR ONE STUDENT?'

AND MARGARET MITCHELL WROTE BACK AND SENT A CHECK, SO THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE RELATIONSHIP.

IT WAS ENOUGH TO SUPPORT A STUDENT FOR A YEAR'S WORTH OF TUITION.

THAT'S AN ATTRACTIVE SCHOLARSHIP.

Narrator: BENJAMIN MAYS WAS A POWERFUL FIGURE, WHO WOULD BECOME THE MENTOR OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

HE SENSED THAT MARGARET MITCHELL MIGHT BE OPEN TO HIS IDEAS ON EDUCATION.

HE WAS RIGHT.

Narrator: MITCHELL AND MAYS BEGAN A SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

HE WOULD MAKE THE REQUEST AND SHE WOULD SEND THE MONEY TO EDUCATE AFRICAN-AMERICAN DOCTORS.

Johnson: RACIAL TENSIONS WERE VERY DIFFICULT AND DEEP AT THAT TIME.

IT'S AMAZING THAT DR. MAYS AND MARGARET MITCHELL WERE ABLE TO MAINTAIN THAT RELATIONSHIP IN SPITE OF IT.

Narrator: A MOREHOUSE COLLEGE STUDENT COURIERED THE LETTERS BETWEEN MITCHELL AND MAYS.

BECAUSE OF THE DANGEROUS TIMES, THE TWO NEVER MET.

I WOULD LIKEN IT TO AN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IN THE SENSE OF HOW THEY SENT THE LETTERS BACK AND FORTH.

IF THE WORLD HAD DISCOVERED THAT MARGARET MITCHELL WAS SUPPORTING MOREHOUSE COLLEGE, THAT GESTURE COULD HAVE THREATENED HER LIFE WITH THOSE WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN INCLINED TO RETALIATE AGAINST ANYONE WHO'S PROMOTING BLACK EDUCATION.

Narrator: FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE, MITCHELL WOULD SEND SCHOLARSHIP MONEY TO DR. BENJAMIN MAYS.

NONE OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN DOCTORS KNEW WHO THEIR BENEFACTOR WAS.

LATER, SHE QUIETLY HELPED FUND THE FIRST HOSPITAL FOR BLACKS IN ATLANTA.

Franklin: AS TIME PASSED, SHE GREW.

SHE RELINQUISHED SOME EARLY BELIEFS AND CONVICTIONS WITH WHICH SHE HAD BEEN REARED AND BEGAN TO SEE THE WORLD THROUGH HER OWN EYES.

Johnson: SHE MADE SUCH A GREAT CONTRIBUTION TO MANKIND.

IT WAS GREATER THAN MONEY.

IT WAS SOMETHING SHE DID FOR HUMANITY.

Narrator: MITCHELL'S PERSONA WAS SHIFTING AGAIN.

NOW SHE IDENTIFIED HERSELF AS MRS. JOHN MARSH RATHER THAN MARGARET MITCHELL.

Freer: SHE COULD GO PLACES AS MRS. JOHN MARSH WHERE PEOPLE WOULDN'T KNOW MRS. JOHN MARSH BUT THEY WOULD CERTAINLY KNOW MARGARET MITCHELL.

Haskell: MARGARET MITCHELL'S SELF-IMAGE, HER PERSONA, NEVER SETTLED INTO ONE FORM.

Pyron: AM I A WRITER, AM I A WIFE?

SHALL I BE FAMOUS ON MY OWN?

SHOULD I MAKE MORE MONEY THAN MY HUSBAND?

WHAT HAPPENS IF I MAKE MORE MONEY THAN MY HUSBAND?

IS HE MR. MARGARET MITCHELL?

Narrator: IN SPITE OF HIS WIFE'S SUCCESS, JOHN MARSH STILL WORKED AT GEORGIA POWER.

HE ALSO MANAGED THE BUSINESS OF 'GONE WITH THE WIND,' A FORMIDABLE TASK.

BUT IN 1945, HE SUFFERED A MASSIVE HEART ATTACK AND WOULD NEVER WORK AGAIN.

FOR TWO AGONIZING YEARS, MITCHELL NURSED HER HUSBAND UNTIL HE WAS OUT OF DANGER.

THEY LIVED QUIETLY AND WERE SOMEWHAT RECLUSIVE.

THEIR FAVORITE PASTIME WAS WATCHING MOVIES.

BUT THEIR LOVE OF MOVIES WOULD END TRAGICALLY IN MITCHELL'S FINAL ACCIDENT.

[ TIRES SQUEALING ] ON AUGUST 11, 1949, MARGARET MITCHELL WAS HIT BY A SPEEDING CAR AS SHE AND JOHN MARSH WERE CROSSING PEACH TREE STREET.

THEY WERE GOING TO THE MOVIES.

MITCHELL WAS TAKEN TO GRADY HOSPITAL IN ATLANTA, WHERE SHE LAY IN A COMA FOR FIVE DAYS.

THEN, ON AUGUST 16, 1949, MARGARET MITCHELL DIED.

SHE WAS 48 YEARS OLD.

SHE WAS BURIED AT OAKLAND CEMETERY IN ATLANTA.

A HALF-CENTURY LATER, THE WORLD WOULD LEARN SHE HAD SECRETLY EDUCATED DOZENS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN DOCTORS, BUT IT WAS NO SECRET TO ANYONE THAT MARGARET MITCHELL HAD WRITTEN A BOOK FOR THE AGES.

Conroy: A WOMAN WHO HAD NEVER WRITTEN A NOVEL COMES OUT OF NOWHERE, WRITES A BOOK THAT BECOMES THE BIGGEST LEGEND, MOST SUCCESSFUL BOOK PUBLISHED IN THE 20th CENTURY.

SHE WROTE A TEXT ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN.

AND UNTIL WE BECOME MACHINES AND ALL CLONES, IT WILL CONTINUE TO SPEAK TO THE HUMAN CONDITION AND PEOPLE WILL CONTINUE TO READ IT.

Narrator: MARGARET MITCHELL'S LAST ACT OF REBELLION CAME FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE.

SHE ASKED HER HUSBAND TO BURN THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT OF 'GONE WITH THE WIND' UPON HER DEATH.

WITH GREAT SADNESS, JOHN MARSH WATCHED AS THE FLAMES CONSUMED HUNDREDS OF PAGES.

BEFORE IT WAS OVER, HE RESCUED SEVERAL CHAPTERS AND STORED THEM IN A VAULT, IN CASE ANYONE EVER QUESTIONED HER AUTHORSHIP.

WE MAY NEVER KNOW WHY MARGARET MITCHELL WANTED TO DESTROY THE STORY SHE HAD SPENT A LIFETIME CREATING.

BUT ONE THING SEEMS CERTAIN.

'GONE WITH THE WIND' WILL LIVE ON AND ON.