Oldest living 'Gone with the Wind' actress dies in South Carolina

REUTERS - Actress Alicia Rhett, who was the oldest surviving cast member of the classic 1939 film "Gone with the Wind," died in South Carolina on Friday, officials at the retirement community where she lived said. She was 98.

Rhett died at about 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT) at the Bishop Gadsden Episcopal Retirement Community in Charleston where she lived since 2002, it said a statement. The cause of death was not immediately known.

"Truly a beautiful woman, her passion for the arts and love of Charleston were unrivaled," said Bill Trawick, president and CEO of Bishop Gadsden. "Alicia was a kind and gentle lady ... we were honored to have her as a resident."

The Savannah, Georgia-born Rhett was most known for portraying India Wilkes, one of the sisters of Ashley Wilkes in the award-winning film about white southerners in the American Civil War era.

Other surviving cast members are 97-year-old Olivia de Havilland who played Melanie Hamilton, Ashley Wilkes' cousin and wife; 93-year-old Mary Anderson, who played Maybelle Merriweather; and 81-year-old Mickey Kuhn, who played Beau Wilkes, Bishop Gadsden said.

Ann Rutherford, who played protagonist Scarlett O'Hara's optimistic younger sister, died in June 2012 in Los Angeles.

Rhett, who moved to Charleston with her mother after her father died in World War One, was also a painter and illustrator who drew on-set portraits of fellow actors, Bishop Gadsden said.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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