Paulette Goddard was hotly tipped to be Scarlett O’Hara and even given a Technicolor screen test. She was under contract to David O. Selznick and made YOUNG AT HEART for him in 1938.
But, then, as happened with other Selznick players, she was loaned out to MGM for FINISHING SCHOOL (1938) and THE WOMEN (1939} (which gave Paulette one of her best roles.)
Vivien Leigh was a latecomer in the race to become Margaret Mitchell’s Southern Belle. And it must have been quite a shock to Paulette when she lost the role.
Whether Paulette’s ongoing relationship with Charlie Chaplin influenced Selznick’s decision is unclear – as Louella says in her piece, it wasn’t known if Goddard and Chaplin were married. And that was a big deal in 1938.
So interesting to imagine how certain movies might have turned out with different casting choices… And I can imagine that Paulette might have been VERY disappointed. But then George Cukor ended up being let go as director, I think, after filming had begun? Lots of drama on and off the set…
David Selznick certainly was a showman. The nation wide search for the perfect Scarlett got him tremendous publicity, even though he was already testing established actresses such as Paulette and Jean Arthur.
George Cukor was involved in much of the pre-production but was indeed let go after filming started.
I think Paulette would have been a wonderful Scarlett. She comes across better than anyone else in those screen tests, in fact some of them are awful!
I agree, Paulette had all the fire and beauty for the part.