When most people think of “Gone With the Wind,” they think of Vivien Leigh’s tiny waist, “I will never go hungry again,” the curtain dress or Clark Gable’s gorgeous self. There are so many moments that have made their marks on our minds.
But when I think of “Gone With the Wind,” the first word that pops into my head is eyebrows. Yes, eyebrows.
In 2009, mere weeks into my life as a full-time journalist, I was assigned to cover the 70th anniversary celebration of the film “Gone With the Wind” on the historic Marietta Square. There would be local politicians breaking the Guinness World Record for the Virginia Reel, dressed in period clothing and taking a break from their usual suits, pearls and ties. There would be GWTW enthusiasts from all over the world, reveling in the nostalgia surrounding them. There would be a giant, 8-feet long, 6-feet tall cake made to look like Scarlett’s home, Tara, which took three people 40 hours to make using 250 pounds of fondant icing. There would be Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies, sharing the history of the film and introducing some of the stars of the celebration.
And there would be Ann Rutherford.
While the name might not be familiar to most – certainly not as familiar as Gable and Leigh – Rutherford did have a speaking role in the film. Rutherford played Carreen O’Hara, Scarlett’s sister, in the film. She also had roles in the classic film “Pride and Prejudice” and as Polly Benedict in the famous Andy Hardy films. While her role in GWTW might have been small, Rutherford knew it was her legacy.
“It was a nothing part – it’s still a nothing part – but that nothing part has turned my golden years into platinum. Long may she wave,” she animatedly told me at the event.
What a quote. But that was not the most lasting (or surprising) moment from our conversation.
As I was reliving Rutherford’s memories with her on that beautiful day under the Glover Park stage made of white antebellum-style columns and surrounded by history, Rutherford gave me a history, and a beauty, lesson of her own.
“Your eyebrows are just beautiful, honey. Don’t you ever let anyone touch them,” she said, happily interrupting one of my questions. My…eyebrows? I inherited my grandmother’s insanely long eyelashes so I have heard people ask me about those a time or 20 but, my eyebrows? That was definitely a first and I wasn’t exactly sure how to take it.
So, letting my journalistic curiosity flag fly, I prodded her for more. “Oh, honey, let me just tell you a story!” she replied.
Rutherford spoke with disdain about the beauty trend of the time to pluck and wax women’s eyebrows to the point where there was barely any hair left. Dark, full, statement eyebrows were for those who cared nothing of their beauty.
But that would soon change, thanks to Rutherford’s friendship with Leigh and the film’s makeup artist. Leigh was having her makeup applied before filming one day when Rutherford said she saw the artist pull a pair of tweezers out of her makeup kit.
“Don’t touch her with those tweezers,” Rutherford said she told her, explaining that Leigh had these dark and full (at least for the time) eyebrows that would be beautiful and expressive on camera.
So Leigh and the artist listened and took a chance on betraying the fashion magazines of the time. Not only did she do very little plucking to Leigh’s eyebrows other than to shape the arch, the artist also lined them with a dark pencil to make them even more prominent.
The result was spectacular. What Leigh and GWTW would have missed without that infamous arch of Scarlett’s brow! And to think, Carreen O’Hara was the cause, unbeknownst to perhaps all. Once the movie came out and Leigh’s chance paid off, she and the artist (and the shadow of Rutherford) changed the course of beauty and the days of barely-there brows were gone.
I am openly and admittedly lazy with tweezing my eyebrows. I should get them arched, I should get them waxed, I should pay more attention to them like most of my fellow beauty-conscious friends. But every time I walk past a nail salon flashing a sale on eyebrow shaping, Rutherford’s smooth, sassy voice pops into my head: “Don’t you ever let anyone touch them.”
Long may she wave.
Katy Ruth Camp is a features contributor for Pretty Southern. The daughter of a longtime high school football coach and UGA football letterman, Katy Ruth was raised in the small town of Cartersville, Georgia, a quintessential Southern town. Katy Ruth graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in journalism and literature and, during that time, she worked as a writer and media assistant for the UGA Athletic Association. She has since won state and national awards for business, sports and feature writing. She is currently a journalist, ad sales director and the director of community outreach for Times-Journal, Inc., as well as the owner and artist of little crow handmade jewelry. Read more on her blog Pigskin Peaches, find her on Facebook, and PrettySouthern.com.