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“Gone with the Wind” Scarlett O’Hara dress to go on public display for first time

The green and white dress worn by Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara to a plantation barbecue in “Gone with the Wind” will go on public display for the first time today as part of an exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Restored by original designer Walter Plunkett shortly before his 1982 death, the three-piece dress was originally donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by Daniel Selznick, son of “Gone with the Wind” producer David O. Selznick. LACMA in turn donated it to the Natural History Museum’s collection of Hollywood costumes in 2004, but it has never gone on public display.

The dress will be displayed for six months as part of the museum’s “Becoming Los Angeles” exhibit in honor of the 75th anniversary of the film’s release.

In the film, Scarlett O’Hara wears the dress during a barbecue at the Twelve Oaks Plantation, where she meets Rhett Butler.

The dress, designed specifically to fit Leigh, is three pieces — a bodice, skirt and kelly green sash. Before his death, Plunkett reconstructed the skirt, parts of which had disintegrated. He also hand-painted the overlay and made a new sash.

“It was an incredibly rare instance when the original designer of a costume was still alive and able to do the major repair work on it,” NHM Collections Manager Beth Werling said.

Werling said the dress has been displayed occasionally at private museum events, but this will be the first time it will be available for public viewing.

A portion of the “Becoming Los Angeles” exhibit focuses on the early film business. Museum officials noted that while “Gone with the Wind” is set in the South, it was filmed in the Los Angeles area. The plantation scene in which Leigh wears the dress was filmed in Pasadena.

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