The actress who so memorably played Scarlett O’Hara’s youngest sister in the classic movie "Gone With the Wind" — and who played Mickey Rooney’s girlfriend in a number of Andy Hardy movies — has died at age 94.
"Ann Rutherford died Monday evening at her home in Beverly Hills, said her close friend and fellow actress Anne Jeffreys," reports the Los Angeles Times, adding, "Rutherford had been in declining health with heart problems."
While she was under contract to MGM, producer David O. Selznick wanted to borrow her to play Scarlett O’Hara’s youngest sister.
Says the LA Times story, MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer "called it ‘a nothing part’ and planned to say no, Rutherford told the Times in 2010. A fan of the Margaret Mitchell novel, Rutherford implored Mayer to reconsider. When she uncharacteristically burst into tears, he relented. ‘I just wanted to watch the book come to life,’ she said in the Times interview."
The article adds: "At a 2009 screening in Marietta, Ga., to mark the 70th anniversary of the movie she called ‘The Wind,’ Rutherford employed a phrase that she had often used to describe how the film influenced her life: ‘That "nothing part" turned my golden years into platinum.’"
By 1950 Rutherford had been in close to 60 movies, the Times says. Rutherford also guest-starred in many TV shows in the 1950s, including "Playhouse 90," "The Donna Reed Show," "Tales of Wells Fargo" and "Perry Mason." In the 1970s she guested on "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Love, American Style."
Ann Rutherford, left, Vivian Leigh, center, and Evelyn Keyes, right, played sisters in "Gone With the WInd" (1939)