Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind" still delights many fans curious about the fictional Antebellum South life during the American Civil War, as well as its Southern belles, like the movie's star actress Vivien Leigh. But Vivien and her love interests Clark Gable and Leslie Howard are no longer alive to hold forth at Georgia's Margaret Mitchell House, where the author and former Atlanta Journal reporter penned her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. And now the oldest surviving cast member has died, too, at 5 p.m. on Friday, according to MSN Movie News on Jan. 3.
Alicia Rhett--not to be confused with the Clark Gable character Rhett Butler--played India Wilkes in the 1939 film, the sister of Ashley Wilkes, one of Scarlett O'Hara's love interests. Now, in the early days of 2014, at the age of 98, Alicia Rhett joins the other cast members who have passed away since Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was made into one of the most memorable movies of all time.
Born in Savannah, Georgia on Feb. 1, 1915, Rhett died in a nursing home in Charleston, S.C. She had lived in the Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community since August 2002.
Not many know that Alicia Rhett was also a portrait painter, who is said to have sketched many of her fellow actors during the filming of the war piece, according to Variety. And she even was commissioned to paint the portrait of a teen who would later go on to write the "Gone With the Wind" sequel: "Scarlet". Her paintings of an admiral and a librarian can still be seen in the South Carolina State Library.
In March 2011 the Charleston Magazine did a piece on the former Savanna-born beauty, revealing that she was the granddaughter of the first Confederate commander of Sumter and that she never had another film role after Mitchell's hit. In fact, she turned to radio instead, becoming a WTMA radio personality. And it is rumored that she even burned her letters from fans and shunned fame altogether, preferring her artistic life and solitude.
Alicia Rhett was not the only remaining living cast member of the Civil War film, with Olivia de Haviland, who played Scarlett's nemesis, Ashely Wilkes' wife Melanie, said to be still alive and living in France.