'Gone With the Wind' Actress Mary Anderson Dies at 96

Everett Collection
Anderson in "Gone With the Wind."

She played Maybelle Merriwether in the 1939 epic. Later, she was memorable as one of the nine survivors in Alfred Hitchcock's "Lifeboat."

Mary Anderson, who played Maybelle Merriwether in Gone With the Wind and was one of the nine survivors cast adrift from a torpedoed ship in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, has died. She was 96.

Anderson died Sunday under hospice care in Burbank, her friend Betty Landess told the Los Angeles Times.

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Anderson was the widow of cinematographer Leon Shamroy, who collected 18 Academy Award nominations during his career and won for The Black Swan (1942), Wilson (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945) and Cleopatra (1963). They were married for 21 years until his death in 1974.

While attending Howard College (now Samford University) in her native Birmingham, Ala., Anderson was discovered by director George Cukor, who was searching for an actress to play Scarlett O’Hara in the adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War epic Gone With the Wind (1939).

Cukor was fired, and the role of O’Hara went to Vivien Leigh, who went on to capture the best actress Oscar. Anderson was cast in a small role as Maybelle, Scarlett’s cousin and the wife of Louisiana native Rene Picard (Alberto Morin).

In Lifeboat (1944), Anderson played U.S. Army nurse Alice Mackenzie opposite Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, John Hodiak and Hume Cronyn in the claustrophobic Hitchcock drama.

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Anderson’s film résumé also includes Flight Angels (1940), Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941), Henry Aldrich for President (1941), The Song of Bernadette (1943), as President Woodrow Wilson’s daughter Eleanor in Wilson (1944), To Each His Own (1946), The Underworld Story (1950) and Passage West (1951).

She had a recurring role on ABC’s Peyton Place in 1964 and appeared in other such series as Climax!, Mike Hammer, Perry Mason, The Californians, My Three Sons and Daniel Boone.

Her younger brother, James -- an actor who appeared in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Little Big Man (1970) and the TV Westerns Rawhide and Gunsmoke -- died in 1969.

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