Ann Rutherford, who played Scarlett O’Hara’s youngest sister in “Gone With The Wind”, died on Monday evening of apparent heart problems at her Beverly Hills home. She was 94 years old.
Canadian-born Rutherford had quite a career in Hollywood, beginning in 1935 at the tender age of 15. She famously won the role of Carreen in “Gone With The Wind” when Judy Garland–who had been up for the role–was busy with “The Wizard Of Oz”. Although the part of the little sister was a small one–too small for someone of her experience, studio execs thought–Rutherford fought for it because she was such a fan of the book.
She went on to star in the hugely popular “Andy Hardy” film series, which starred Mickey Rooney as her boyfriend. She continued to act–mostly on television shows–well into her 50’s and later retired only to be deluged with fan mail for her small but pivotal role in “Gone With The Wind”. She was often a guest of film celebrations in Georgia and enjoyed remaining a part of the iconic movie so many years after its first screening.
“She loved it. It really stimulated the last years of her life, because she got thousands of emails from fans,” close friend Anne Jeffreys said. “She was in great demand.”
Rutherford famously acknowledged her part in film’s history by comparing it to an adult version of a cartoon icon.
“The specialness of this is with each generation of young people who are touched by ‘Gone With the Wind,'” she said. “As long as there are little children, there will always be a Mickey Mouse. … On an adult version, ‘Gone With the Wind’ does that.”