Tag Archives: Ashley Wilkes

Secondary Character Saturday: Ashley Wilkes

“Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars.
And, when the wars were over, no one ever knew what they were about.”
–Ashley Wilkes

Leslie Howard as Ashley in the 1939 movie version of Gone With the Wind [Image courtesy MGM]

Leslie Howard as Ashley in the 1939 movie version of Gone With the Wind [Image courtesy MGM]

WHO: Ashley Wilkes

FROM: Gone With the Wind

BY: Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell all set to launch cruiser af...

Margaret Mitchell all set to launch cruiser after long training as Red Cross launchee / World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Aumuller. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PUBLISHED: 1936

PROS: Handsome, honorable, sensitive, brave, intelligent. He’s everything as Southern Gentleman ought to be. He’s an idealist who longs for the bucolic, peaceful life he led before the war. He would have freed the slaves on Twelve Oaks once his father died (and he inherited them) if the War hadn’t done it for him.

CONS: Conflicted, weak and too easily manipulated by the women in his life. His romantic ideas of how the world ought to be are impractical in Reconstructionist Georgia.

Ashley Wilkes is representative of the Southern aristocrat who fights bravely in the war but finds himself confused and directionless in its aftermath. Ashley realizes that his absolutist convictions about honor and courage no longer have meaning in his world, but he is unable to take action. [Virginia.edu]

Screenshot of the title page from the trailer ...

Screenshot of the title page from the trailer for the film Gone with the Wind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Leslie Howard 4.3.13 Thought of the Day

“I hate the damn part. I’m not nearly beautiful or young enough for Ashley, and it makes me sick being fixed up to look attractive.”–Leslie Howard

[Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

[Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

Leslie Howard Steiner was born on this day in Forest Hill, London, England in 1893. Today is the 120th anniversary of his birth.

Both his parents, Lilian and Ferdinand “Frank” Steiner, were of Jewish descent. Leslie’s father was from Hungary. His mother’s grandfather immigrated from East Prussia and married into well to do English society. She wanted the family to assimilate into English society as seamlessly as possible. She raised Leslie as a Christian, and when World War One broke out the family Anglicized their name from Steiner to Stainer. Leslie changed his name legally to Leslie Howard on February 24, 1920.

Although clearly bright, Howard’s sheltered upbringing and severe near-sightedness made him extremely self-conscious. Never a good student, the young Howard loathed his time at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich, London, preferring to lose himself in the comfort of books. Fiercely protective of her son, Lilian encouraged her boy’s participation in the arts, particularly theatre, as a means of improving his social and academic skills. [TMC.com]

The stage was good fit. By 14 he had written his first play and it wasn’t long before Lilian established the Upper Norwood Dramatic Club to showcase Leslie and his friends. His father, however, thought a more down to earth career was in Leslie’s future. At Frank’s insistence he took a job as a clerk at a London bank — which he hated. “When war finally did break out, Howard saw his chance to escape the monotony of his life and promptly enlisted with the British Cavalry.” [Ibid] He served on the front lines for a while before returning home in 1916 with a severe case of shell shock.

He returned to the theatre again as a kind of a therapy.

In a few years, his name was famous on the stages of London and New York. He made his first movie in 1914 (The Heroine of Mons (1914)). He became known as the perfect Englishman (slim, tall, intellectual and sensitive), a part that he played in many movies, and a part women would dream about. [IMDb]

He had a long career on stage and screen, with his top movies being:

Oh, Ashley! [Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

Oh, Ashley! [Image courtesy: The Rebel Reader]

  • Gone with the Wind, as Ashley Wilkes (a role he thought he was too old for — he was 46 at the time. He didn’t want to play another soft-spoken, dreamer. But the producer promised Leslie if he did the role he could co-produce Intermezzo  — a movie he’d been longing to make.)
  • Intermezzo, a Love Story , as Holger Brandt
Giving a smouldering look with Igrid Berman in Intermezzo [Image courtesy: DoctoreMacro.com]

Sharing a smouldering look with Igrid Berman in Intermezzo [Image courtesy: DoctorMacro.com]

  • Pygmalion, as Professor Henry Higgins
In Pygmalion [Image couresty: DoctorMarco.com]

In Pygmalion [Image couresty: DoctorMacro.com]

Howard in Scarlet Pimpernel. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. [Image courtesy The Telegraph]

Howard in Scarlet Pimpernel. He was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. [Image courtesy The Telegraph]

He returned to England at the onset of WWII to help with the war effort. Leslie Howard died in 1943 when the plane he was flying in from Lisbon to England was shot down over the Bay of Biscay.


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