Skip to main content

'Gone With the Wind' actress Alicia Rhett dies at 98

By Mayra Cuevas and Greg Botelho, CNN
January 4, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Alicia Rhett was cast as India Wilkes, sister of plantation owner Ashley Wilkes, in
Alicia Rhett was cast as India Wilkes, sister of plantation owner Ashley Wilkes, in "Gone With the Wind."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alicia Rhett played India Wilkes in the 1939 classic "Gone With the Wind"
  • After the film, she headed back to Charleston and worked as an artist
  • She died of natural causes at a retirement community, a spokesman says

(CNN) -- Alicia Rhett, who had been one of the oldest surviving cast member of the classic film "Gone With the Wind," died Friday in her longtime hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a retirement community spokeswoman said.

Rhett passed away of natural causes around 5 p.m. surrounded by friends at Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community, said Kimberly Farfone Borts, a spokeswoman for the community.

She was 98.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, Rhett moved with her mother to Charleston after her father died during World War I, according to Borts. Her roots to the South trace back even deeper: According to her biography on the Turner Classic Movies website -- which, like CNN, is a unit of Time Warner -- she was the great-granddaughter of U.S. Sen. Robert Rhett, known as the "Father of Secession" for his staunch and vocal anti-Union positions.

Rhett was doing local theater productions when she was spotted for a role in the 1939 classic "Gone With the Wind," a film based on Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

She was cast as India Wilkes, sister of plantation owner Ashley Wilkes who was at odds with Scarlet O'Hara, played by Vivien Leigh.

While the runaway success and continued notoriety of "Gone With the Wind" made Rhett recognizable nationwide, she did not pursue the limelight. Instead of heading to Hollywood, Rhett went back to Charleston.

In the coastal South Carolina city, she developed a reputation as a talented artist, producing works seen in the state library and in many plantations in the area, as well as sketches of her fellow "Gone With the Wind" cast members, according to Borts.

Rhett never married and had a relatively quiet life, though she was involved in local arts programs.

People we lost in 2013

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 0310 GMT (1110 HKT)
Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
Country singer Kevin Sharp has died from "complications due to cancer," his mother told CNN. He was 43.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
The brother-in-law of Britain's Prince Charles died in New York after suffering a head injury in a fall, the prince's official residence announced.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 0714 GMT (1514 HKT)
Win Tin, a founding member of Myanmar's National League for Democracy who was jailed for 19 years for political activism, has died at Yangon Hospital. He was 85.
April 20, 2014 -- Updated 2135 GMT (0535 HKT)
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the middleweight boxing contender who spent 19 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of a triple murder, has died.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1355 GMT (2155 HKT)
Gabriel García Márquez, the influential, Nobel Prize-winning author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera," has died at age 87.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jose Luis "Cheo" Feliciano, a giant of salsa music and Puerto Rican legend, died in a car crash in San Juan, police said. He was 78.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 0801 GMT (1601 HKT)
Born James Hellwig, before legally changing his name to Ultimate in 1993, he is fondly remembered by many for his rivalries in the ring and for his trademark vivid face paint.
April 7, 2014 -- Updated 2050 GMT (0450 HKT)
Actor Mickey Rooney, one of Hollywood's brightest stars in the 1930s and 1940s, died in California at age 93.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 2223 GMT (0623 HKT)
Model and TV personality Peaches Geldof, daughter of Irish musician and Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof, has died at age 25.
April 7, 2014 -- Updated 1557 GMT (2357 HKT)
Comedian John Pinette was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room. He was 50 years old.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
DJ Frankie Knuckles, who died at 59, is remembered as a legendary producer, remixer and house music pioneer.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1306 GMT (2106 HKT)
Kate O'Mara, the British actress best known for playing Joan Collins' sister Caress on the 1980s show "Dynasty," has died. She was 74.
March 26, 2014 -- Updated 1203 GMT (2003 HKT)
Ralph C. Wilson Jr. -- the founder and longtime beloved owner of the Buffalo Bills, not to mention a leading figure in the NFL's rise to prominence -- has died.
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 1143 GMT (1943 HKT)
Gwar lead singer Dave Brockie has died at age 50.
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 1952 GMT (0352 HKT)
James Rebhorn, whose acting resume includes a long list of character roles in major films and TV shows, has died at age 65.
March 23, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
Former Spanish Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez died at age 81 after long illness.
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 0606 GMT (1406 HKT)
Fred Phelps, the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals, has died.
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1910 GMT (0310 HKT)
L'Wren Scott, a noted fashion designer who has been Mick Jagger's companion for more than a decade, was found dead in her apartment of an apparent suicide. She was 49.
March 17, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Scott Asheton, who co-founded and played drums for the influential proto-punk band the Stooges, has died. He was 64.
ADVERTISEMENT