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Native Shares ‘GWTW’ Lore

August 15, 2010

Fans of "Gone With the Wind" read with interest the Associated Press article, published in the Wheeling papers Wednesday, Aug. 11, concerning efforts by the University of Texas at Austin to raise $30,000 to restore five of Scarlett O'Hara's ball gowns from the famous 1939 film.

By coincidence, the evening before that article appeared, we attended a reception in Moundsville honoring West Virginia native Pete Ballard, a former costume designer, museum curator and dollmaker. Ballard gave a gallery talk on his collection of fashion dolls now on display in the Delf Norona Museum at Grave Creek Mound Archaelogical Complex.

During that talk, Ballard also spoke of his friendship and work with Walter Plunkett, costume designer for "Gone With the Wind." As it turned out, a vintage photograph of Plunkett accompanied the AP story in Wednesday's edition of the Wheeling News-Register.

Ballard related that Plunkett gave him designs for "GWTW" costumes that he re-created for dolls. Ballard also remarked that "Vivien gave me tons of stuff" and "Vivien gave me one of the bodices of the white gown." Yes, Vivien Leigh, the English actress who famously played Scarlett O'Hara, also was a great friend of Ballard.

I'll share more information about Ballard and his fascinating collection of fashion dolls in an upcoming issue ...

Members of Wheeling's arts community are mourning the passing of artist George Carey, who succumbed to cancer at age 67 in Wheeling Friday, Aug. 6.

A fourth-generation native of Key West, Fla., Carey made his mark artistically in the Florida community before moving north. While living in Martins Ferry and later Wheeling, he developed an enthusiastic following in the Ohio Valley.

One of Carey's most well-known local works was his painting depicting the main building at the now-closed Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy in Wheeling. With his detailed, realistic rendering of the Mount's brick exterior, casual observers would, at first glimpse, think they were viewing a photograph. Carey called his style "representational."

Carey was an early member of the Artworks Around Town artists' cooperative in Wheeling and displayed his work in many area shows and exhibitions.

Most recently, his paintings of Native Americans and his images of the Southwest region were the subject of a solo art exhibition at Oglebay Institute's Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling earlier this year.

Civic leaders also remember Carey's contributions of artwork for Wheeling Symphony auctions and other community fundraising endeavors. George Carey, the man and the artist, will be missed.

The Washington Post reported Friday, Aug. 13, that U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., is promoting an exclusive fundraiser in which supporters can join the senator in a private box at Lady Gaga's show at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, Sept. 7.

"The event was Lautenberg's idea, according to an aide. The senator is a big fan, it turns out," the Post reported, adding that Lautenberg and his wife, Bonnie, celebrated his 86th birthday in January at a Lady Gaga show at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Post writer Al Kamen opined that, at 86, Lautenberg "is as hip as they come, putting the fun back in fundraising."

Lady Gaga, "the 24-year-old glam-pop megastar," grew up in New York and, of course, is the granddaughter of Paul and Ronnie Bissett of Glen Dale.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

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