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October29th

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The 7 year old little boy clinging to Leslie Howard in the photo above is Mickey Kuhn, a child star of the 1930s and 1940s. He was cast as Beau Wilkes,  Ashley Wilkes and Melanie’s son, in the legendary film Gone with the Wind. This film role was not his first– he began working in films at age 2! And it would not be his last either. In fact, he would reunite with a certain GWTW alum in a 1951 film. But more about that later… Mr. Kuhn kindly agreed to sit down with Vivien-Leigh.com to answer some questions about Gone with the Wind and Vivien Leigh. Mr.  Kuhn will be participating in the Marietta GWTW Re-Premiere weekend so those of you who are attending will have the opporunity to see and meet him. To learn more about Mr. Kuhn and his acting career, check out his mini biography on IMDB:

One of Hollywood’s staple child actors during the 30s and 40s, Mickey Kuhn played alongside many a top Hollywood star from Leslie Howard and Conrad Nagel‘s son to playing Dick Tracy’s ward. Once he reached the “awkward teens” stage, however, he found himself primarily unemployed or in unbilled parts and looked elsewhere for career satisfaction.

Born Theodore Matthew Michael Kuhn, Jr. on September 21, 1932 in Waukegan, Illinois, he was the younger of two children born to Theodore Sr. and the former Pearl Hicks. The family moved to Hollywood during the Depression where his father found reliable work as a meat cutter. Mickey added to the family income at age 2 when, by chance, he was cast by Fox Studios for the movie Change of Heart (1934) starring the preeminent movie couple at the time, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. Attending kindergarten at the Mark-Ken School for professional children, he returned to films as a 5-year-old in A Doctor’s Diary (1937) made by Paramount. His devoted mother oversaw and protected him throughout most of his young career. 1939 was a banner year for Mickey as it was for Hollywood itself, appearing as Crown Prince Augustin in the “A” picture Juarez (1939) starring Paul Muni and Bette Davis, and as Ashley Wilkes’ son Beau in the Civil War classic Gone with the Wind (1939). {click here to read the rest of this mini biography >>>}

V-L.COM: Let’s begin with something fun! How many times have you watched GWTW?

Mickey Kuhn: Not that many……….only about 8 times over 70 years.

V-L.COM: Do you think Scarlett O’Hara got Rhett Butler back in the end?

Mickey Kuhn: No !! I think he wanted to settle down and have a family while Scarlett wanted the “exciting” lifestyle.

V-L.COM: Now let’s get down to business. What memories do you have about working on the set of Gone with the Wind in 1939?

Mickey Kuhn: In all humility I must say that for me it was “just another day at work.” However, when Victor Fleming took me aside and began creating a “scene” for me about Melanie’s death, to get me to cry, and again when he let me “take a punch” at him to get me to stop crying are the two most memorable times. However, when Cammie and I had a scene with Clark Gable and I ‘flubbed’ my lines THREE times, that was VERY memorable.

V-L.COM: Who did you enjoy most on set?

Mickey Kuhn: Victor Fleming and Clark Gable and of course, the initial “First Love” ( at age 7), Cammie King.

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with Cammie King (Bonnie) and Clark Gable (Rhett)

V-L.COM: Did you attend the 1939 premiere or any other re-premiere event?

Mickey Kuhn: The first event I attended was the 50th Anniversary in Atlanta, the “60th” (really the 59th because Warner Bros. couldn’t count) in Los Angeles, and of course we are ALL looking forward to the BIG event in Marietta this coming November, the 70th Anniversary celebration.

V-L.COM: For those who didn’t know, this year marks the 70th anniversary of  Gone with the Wind, the film, and in honor of it, the Marietta GWTW Museum is hosting a Re-Premiere weekend November 13 and 14. You, Mr. Kuhn, along with the Ann Rutherford, Mary Anderson, Cammie King Conlon, Patrick Curtis, and Greg Geise, will participate in celebrating this legendary film. What does Gone with the Wind mean to you and how has it affected your life?

Mickey Kuhn: To have been a part of such a great film is, of course, a great honor. To have your name listed in the credits along with the great stars of the day is an honor as well. But the REALLY memorable thing is to have been able to meet and share good times with Ann, Cammie, Patrick, Greg and especially the late Fred Crane is what really means the most to me. As to how it has affected my life?? Well, I have done more radio and tv interviews for local stations here in Boston than I ever have in my life. Also, the local newspapers here in the Boston area as well as the Naples, FL area have published some very flattering stories.

V-L.COM: When were you first introduced to Vivien Leigh, and what was your first impression?

Mickey Kuhn: I was first INTRODUCED to Lady Olivier on the set of Streetcar Named Desire I played the sailor who put Blanche on the right [streetcar]. Fred Crane and I used to ‘rag’ on each other about having the first opening lines of GREAT movies. He, of course, had the honors in GWTW and I, it was pointed out to me MANY years later by Dr. Chris Sullivan, had the honors in Streetcar. My first impression of her was that she was a “classy” lady who was a great actress and not only a pleasure to work with but an actress who brought out the BEST in her supporting actors.

V-L.COM: What were the qualities you most admired in her personality?

Mickey Kuhn: She was most gracious, curious about my career goals in the acting field and told me that it was a pleasure to be working with me again…………..WOW !!!!!

V-L.COM: How did you rate her as an actress for the screen?

Mickey Kuhn: ONE OF THE GREATS !!!

V-L.COM: Have you any anecdote or story about her?

Mickey Kuhn: When Lady Olivier was told that I played Beau Wilkes in GWTW she had filming stopped and asked that I come see her in her dressing room. I of course took this as a “summons” and was prepared for a proper British dress down about my ‘lack’ of acting skills. Quite the contrary, we chatted for about 30 minutes. It ranks as one of the most unforgettable experiences of my career.

V-L.COM: I must ask…  what did Miss Leigh and you talk about during those 30 minutes?

Mickey Kuhn: As a VERY nervous 18 year old and being alone with a movie ICON the first few minutes are STILL blurry.  However, when I think about it my “powers of recall” seem to clear up the blur.  Actually the time I spent with Lady Olivier was NOT like one would expect.  She was truly interested in me, my education and my career path.  She really wanted to know about my acting career and whether or not I was going to continue with it.  I did answer her questions in a nervous manner but I guess satisfactorily because she smiled at my responses.

V-L.COM: What an honor that must have been.

Mickey Kuhn: You are SO right.  Every time I think or talk about that meeting I kind of get ”chills.”

Vivien Leigh and Mickey Kuhn in Streetcar

V-L.COM: You also worked with Vivien Leigh on A Streetcar Named Desire. Describe the scene you had together… how did she prepare?

Mickey Kuhn: As I have mentioned, I was the sailor who helped her on the right streetcar to her destination. At this time we had no reason to chat with each other because she was ALWAYS in character and expected everyone else to be equally prepared. At the conclusion of that particular scene she said “thank you” and went to her dressingroom and “the rest is history !!” As for her preparation for the role, I have no idea. She was a GREAT actress and did what she had to do to prepare. What was her level of expertise and professionalism? In my opinion, she was the ultimate professional. That is the best part of my career, I have had the greatest of opportunities to work with some of the “greats” in early motion pictures, i.e. Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, John Wayne, James Stewart, Bette Davis to name a few.

V-L.COM: She did offer you any advice?

Mickey Kuhn: Not really. She simply expected a great deal of her supporting cast and in my opinion, she got it. Believe me, there was a bit of pressure on an 18 year old to work opposite an Academy Award winner. (As it turned out, I am the ONLY actor to have appeared with Vivien Leigh in BOTH of her Academy Award winning performances [again information courtesy of Dr. Chris Sullivan].

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Mr. Kuhn, May 2009.

V-L.COM: Thank you, Mr. Kuhn, for participating in this interview! Stay tuned for additional interviews in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned!

4 Comments

  • Comment by Selina — October 29, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

    Wow that’s amazing, I didn’t know he was the sailor!
    What fantastic memories.

  • Comment by Leigh — November 3, 2009 @ 10:25 pm

    It is amazing, isn’t it!?

  • Comment by Richard diakos — December 27, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

    I served in the navy with mr.kuhn on whiskey island wash. In 1954

  • Comment by Richard diakos — December 27, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

    I served in the navy with mr.kuhn on whidbey island in1954.

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