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Cukor And Spice

December 29, 1991

Although I have not yet read the biography of George Cukor, which was reviewed Dec. 8 by one Gregg Kilday and written by one Patrick McGilligan, I would like to try to refute the stupid canard about why Cukor was fired from "Gone With the Wind."

I was George Cukor's assistant from 1936 until I went into the Army late in 1942, and was a very close friend of his until his death, although I no longer worked for him. I saw a great deal of him at all times, and attended many of his parties "for men only."

The rumor is that Cukor was aware that silent star Bill Haines had "had his way" with a very young Gable in return for Haines' trying to get Gable work in pictures. Gable is supposed to have known that Haines had told George about that unlikely episode, so why would Gable have consented to have Cukor as director of GWTW in the first place? The answer is, he would not have.

Bill Haines was, until the day Carole Lombard died, her best friend, and as Gable's wife, Carole saw much of Haines; so did Gable, who liked him very much.

No one knows who started that ridiculous story, but because it is titillating, most people want to believe it, just as so many believe that dreadful book about Joan Crawford by her adopted daughter. Oh, George used to tell me stories about that devoted daughter!

But it was not until the early '50s that he got wind of the rumor about why David O. Selznick fired him from the picture, something that had never before happened to George. He told me about it, laughing because it was too absurd.

McGilligan should have read Irene Mayer Selznick's autobiography in which she says Cukor was taken off the movie simply because the scenes were not coming out the way David Selznick wanted them. There is no mention of Bill Haines, nor should there be.


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