March 02, 1981 12:00 PM

by Gerald and Harriet Modell Gardner

Do you believe that Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone with the Wind, suggested Groucho Marx for the role of Rhett Butler? Or that anyone would even let Lucille Ball read for the part of Scarlett? Do you really care that 88 hours of film was shot for the four-hour 1939 epic? Or that by the end of 1940, 25 million people had seen it? This peculiar collection of undocumented gossip, photographs, old advertisements, fan magazine excerpts and premiere programs is a curiosity that offers even the most devoted fans of the film a lot more than they could ever want to know. Gerald Gardner, author of Who’s in Charge Here?, and his wife, a syndicated newspaper columnist, write mostly in captions. Their prose is on the level of “Out of all this ferment and torment emerged the most beloved motion picture of all time.” Okay, one more nugget: One of the actors cast in the opening scene was George Reeves. He went on to become Superman in the TV series-and later killed himself. (Arlington House, $19.95)

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