Mickey Kuhn, the last surviving credited cast member of Gone With The Wind, died on Sunday at a hospice facility in Naples, Florida. Kuhn’s wife, Barbara, confirmed his death in The Hollywood Reporter. He was 90.
Born on September 21, 1932, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Theodore Matthew Michael Kuhn and Pearl Bernadette, née Kuhn, Theodore Matthew Michael Kuhn, Jr., better known as Mickey, was the youngest of two. About a year after his birth and at the height of the depression, the family moved to Los Angeles, California, where Mickey landed his first role at 18 months in 1934’s Change of Heart after being discovered at Sears.
“Of course I don’t remember this day,” Kuhn said. “But my mother and I were in Sears-Roebuck on Santa Monica and Western when a lady stopped my mother and said that Fox Studio was looking for twin babies for a movie they were shooting. She had a baby girl that looked a lot like me and thought we could be cast. Well, we went over there, and I, but not the lady’s baby, was cast.”
After enrolling in the Mar-Ken Professional Children’s School, Kuhn began appearing in bigger productions, such as Juarez, starring Bette Davis and Paul Muni, and 1939’s S.O.S. Tidal Wave. Then, on his final day of Tidal Wave, he had a meeting for Gone With The Wind, despite his protestations.
“Mother said I had an interview at Culver City for Gone With the Wind,” he said. “I was tired and really wasn’t up to it, but mother said we had to go. There were sixty to eighty kids and adults at the casting office. I started crying and wanted to leave, but mom said to go up and give my name to the lady at the desk. If in ten minutes I hadn’t been called, then we would leave. I went to the lady and said, ‘I’m Mickey Kuhn.’ She said, ‘Mickey, we’ve been waiting for you.’ And then to the others waiting, ‘Thank you, we’ve cast the part. You may all leave.’”
Kuhn was paid $75 a day for his time on Gone With The Wind (about one week). Though Kuhn never worked face-to-face with de Havilland, his performance surrounding her character’s death remains a standout in the film, with his classic line of dialogue: “Where is my mother going away to, and why can’t I go along, please?”
The actor remembered shooting that scene with director Victor Flemming:
“Fleming took me aside and said, ‘I want to talk with you, Mickey. Your mother is dying and you’re going to be left all alone. How would you feel about that?’ I began crying, he handed me to Leslie Howard (who played his father), and it was shot in one take. Howard then handed me back to Fleming who said, ‘Now it’s over, you can calm down and even take a punch at me if you want.’ At that moment, someone on the set took a photo.”
Kuhn worked consistently as an actor following Gone With The Wind, appearing in 1945’s Dick Tracy, Howard Hawks’ Red River as John Wayne’s adopted son, and A Street Car Named Desire. His last credited screen role was on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Kuhn is survived by his wife and two children.