'Gone With the Wind' actress Rhett dies

Jan. 4, 2014 at 4:05 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Alicia Rhett, the oldest surviving actress from the film "Gone With the Wind," died at her South Carolina home, her retirement community said. She was 98.

Rhett achieved minor stardom for her role in the classic 1939 Southern epic as India Wilkes, the spinster sister of plantation owner Ashley Wilkes, Scarlett O'Hara's rival in the film. Unlike the movie's star, Vivien Leigh, Rhett did not vault into Hollywood's A-list -- and in fact never pursued another role in the movies, CNN reported.

Instead, Rhett, a Savannah, Ga., native, moved back to her family's adopted home in Charleston, S.C., where she and her widowed mother lived after Rhett's father was killed during World War I. Once there, People magazine said, Rhett became a noted stage actress and artist in the former capital of the Confederacy.

Much of Rhett's artwork remains on display in both her native Georgia and adopted South Carolina, WSAV-TV, Savannah, reported.

Her role in the Civil War drama wasn't Rhett's only tie to the conflict. Her great-grandfather, Sen. Robert Rhett, was known as the "Father of Secession" for his outspoken opposition to the union.

She lived out her days in Charleston's Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community. A spokeswoman for the retirement community said Rhett died about 5 p.m. Friday, peacefully, of "natural causes."

Rhett never married and had no children.

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