By: James Bacon, August 2, 1964
Vivien “Scarlett O’Hara” Leigh, returning to Hollywood 25 years after “Gone With the Wind,” is convinced that the most glamorous woman in America doesn’t live in Hollywood. “She lives, I understand,” said Vivien, “in Washington, D.C., and her name is Mrs. John F. Kennedy.” Miss Leigh is here for “Ship of Fools.”
Surprisingly, this is only her third camera assignment in Hollywood. She won Oscars for the first two — “Gone With the Wind” and “Streetcar Named Desire.”
“I feel, perhaps, that this is my lucky town,” she says. But glamour has gone eastward from Hollywood, in her opinion.
“Mrs. Kennedy’s glamour,” says Vivien, “consists in a combination of beauty, style and magnificence of spirit.
“Remember, she had already greatly influenced beauty and fashions long before the assassination of her husband, when she presided as the mistress of ‘Camelot,’ as she and Mr. Kennedy used to call the White House in those exciting days.
“She is everywhere admired as a figure of magnetic attraction quite as much as she is honored as a person, the widow of the President, and, of course, a heroine.
“Think how she exposed her own body to the assassin’s next bullet when she climbed out on the back of the ear that day in Dallas to help the Secret Service man aboard. We saw that on television in England, too. It was a sight we shall never forget.
“Mrs. Kennedy, whether she realizes it or not, has a great , deal of potential power simply because of what she is and what she represents.
“She is glamour even to children. Little girls adore her.” As for Vivien, for her third role in Hollywood she once more is cast as a Southerner. “Ship of Fools,” a sort of “Grand Hotel” afloat, has an international cast including Simone Signoret, Jose Ferrer, Lee Marvin, Oskar Werner, Jose Greco and many others.
Miss Leigh says she gets nothing but complimentary fan mail from Southerners every time she plays one. “Despite that awful slip I made at the ‘Gone With the Wind’ premiere in 1939,” she laughs.
That slip came when the band played “Dixie” and the English actress exclaimed: “Isn’t that nice? They’re playing the song from our picture.”