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'Gone with the Wind' exhibit seeks donations

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Curators at the University of Texas want to make sure memorabilia from one of Hollywood's greatest films isn't "Gone With the Wind."

The Harry Ransom Center has hundreds of artifacts from the classic 1939 film and will be celebrating its 75th birthday next fall.

In order to prepare the artifacts, including costume sketches, scripts and even original gowns worn by Vivien Leigh for public viewing, the center is trying to raise $50,000 in 75 days.

"I want as many people to see this exhibition as possible,” Margie Rine, the Harry Ransom Center's associate director for development, said. "The 75th anniversary is a wonderful time to do that.”

Steve Wilson, who oversees the "Gone With the Wind" collection at the Harry Ransom Center, plans to showcase the back story of the movie – even the teletype sent to producer David O. Selznick alerting him about the upcoming book.

"I think people don't really know the whole story of how this film got made,” Wilson said.

Selznick gained the screenplay rights just three days before the book hit the shelves, but Wilson said that likely wasn't Selznick's biggest challenge.

A stressful three-year search for an actress to play Scarlett O’Hara didn’t end until the first week of filming. Vivien Leigh visited the set while crews burned down a replica of Atlanta.

"Her agent brought her to meet him, and she wanted to ask him for an audition for the part,” Wilson said. “A few days later, she had the part."

Curators plan to open the exhibit in September 2014. Donations to support the exhibit can be made here.

The Harry Ransom Center’s website says it has raised about $5,000 since starting the campaign on Oct. 2. The final date to donate is Dec. 15.

"You just really get a sense for how much this film really means to people,” Rine said. “So much of our collective consciousness as Americans is through our films.”

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