Evelyn Keyes

Evelyn Louise Keyes (November 20, 1916 – July 4, 2008) was an American film actress. She is best known for her role as Suellen O'Hara in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind.

Evelyn Keyes
Keyes c. 1940s
Evelyn Louise Keyes

(1916-11-20)November 20, 1916[1]
DiedJuly 4, 2008(2008-07-04) (aged 91)
Peppers Estate Care Home, Montecito, California, U.S.
Years active1938–1993
Barton Bainbridge
(m. 1938; died 1940)

Charles Vidor
(m. 1944; div. 1945)

John Huston
(m. 1946; div. 1950)

Artie Shaw
(m. 1957; div. 1985)
Partner(s)Michael Todd (1953–1956)

Early life

Evelyn Keyes was born in Port Arthur, Texas,[2] to Omar Dow Keyes and Maude Ollive Keyes, the daughter of a Methodist minister. After Omar Keyes died when she was three years old, Keyes moved with her mother to Atlanta, Georgia, where they lived with her grandparents. As a teenager, Keyes took dancing lessons and performed for local clubs such as the Daughters of the Confederacy.

Film career

A chorus girl by age 18, Keyes came out to Hollywood and was introduced to Cecil B. DeMille who in her own words “signed me to a personal contract without even making a test”.[3] After a handful of B movies at Paramount Pictures, she landed a minor role in Gone with the Wind (1939), that of Scarlett O'Hara's sister Suellen.[4] (She was later interviewed for the 1988 documentary The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind.)

Columbia Pictures signed her to a contract. In 1941, she played an ingenue in Here Comes Mr. Jordan. She spent most of the early 1940s playing leads in many of Columbia's B dramas and mysteries. She appeared as the female lead opposite Larry Parks in Columbia's blockbuster hit The Jolson Story (1946). She followed this up with an enjoyable minor screwball comedy, The Mating of Millie, with Glenn Ford. She was then in a 1949 role as Kathy Flannigan in Mrs. Mike.[5] Keyes' last major film role was a small part as Tom Ewell's vacationing wife in The Seven Year Itch (1955), which starred Marilyn Monroe. Keyes officially retired in 1956, but continued to act.

Personal life

She was married to Barton Oliver Bainbridge Sr. from 1938 until his death from suicide in 1940. Later, she married and divorced director Charles Vidor (1943–1945), actor/director John Huston (23 July 1946 – February 1950),[6][7][8] and bandleader Artie Shaw (1957–1985).[9] Keyes said of her many relationships, "I always took up with the man of the moment and there were many such moments."[10] While married to Huston, the couple adopted a Mexican child, Pablo, whom Huston had discovered while on the set of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Her autobiography, Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister: My Lively Life In and Out of Hollywood, was published in 1977.[4] Keyes expressed her opinion that Mrs. Mike was her best film. She also wrote of the personal cost she paid by having an abortion just before Gone with the Wind was to begin filming,[11] as the experience left her unable to have children. Among the many Hollywood affairs she recounted in Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister were those with producer Michael Todd (who left Evelyn for Elizabeth Taylor), Glenn Ford, Sterling Hayden, Dick Powell, Anthony Quinn, David Niven and Kirk Douglas. She had to fend off Harry Cohn's advances during her career in Columbia.

Keyes died on July 4, 2008, from uterine cancer at the Pepper Estates in Montecito, California[12]. She was later cremated with her ashes being divided among her relatives with the remaining half sent to Lamar University in Port Arthur, Texas and the last of the cremains being buried with her relatives in the family plot at The Waco Baptist Church Cemetery, Waco, Georgia, with a small tombstone with the epitaph, Gone With The Wind, where her ashes were buried in October 2008.[12]

Complete filmography

Excluding appearances as herself.


  • Keyes, Evelyn (1971). I Am a Billboard. Lyle Stuart. ISBN 978-0818401077.
  • Keyes, Evelyn (1977). Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister. Lyle Stuart. ISBN 978-0818402432.
  • Keyes, Evelyn (1991). I'll Think about That Tomorrow. Dutton. ISBN 978-0525249696.


  1. Her birth date is often incorrectly given as 1919, but census records list 1916.
  2. Hollywood Remembered
  3. Interview with Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show, July 28, 1977
  4. Thomas, Bob (July 12, 2008). "Actress Evelyn Keyes dies at 91 in California". Associated Press.
  5. Hopper, Hedda (October 2, 1949). "Evelyn Keyes Finally Elevated to Stardom; Leading Lady Bridges Gap Between 'Good' and 'Great' by Her 'Mrs. Mike'". Los Angeles Times. p. D1. Until "Mrs. Mike," Evelyn Keyes had always been considered a fine leading lady rather than a star in the true sense of the word. She seemed to have lacked that final push that bridges the gap between "good" and "great."
  6. Hopper, Hedda (July 24, 1946). "Evelyn Keyes married to film director John Huston". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. An impulsive proposal in a Beverly Hills cafe, a midnight airplane ride to Las Vegas and a 3:30 a.m. appearance before the parson provided the "shooting script" for the surprise marriage yesterday of Evelyn Keyes, film star, and John Huston...
  7. "Evelyn Keyes Separates From Director-Husband; Actress Cites Incompatibility as Cause of Split With Third Spouse, John Huston". Los Angeles Times. May 24, 1949. p. 2. Evelyn Keyes has separated from her third husband, Director John Huston, the blond actress said yesterday.
  8. "Mexican Divorce Ends Evelyn Keyes' Marriage". Los Angeles Times. February 11, 1950. p. 2.
  9. "Artie Shaw Plans to Wed Evelyn Keyes". Los Angeles Times. March 6, 1957. p. 2.
  10. Gates, Anita. "Evelyn Keyes, 91, Whose Film Roles Included 'Gone With the Wind,' Is Dead". The New York Times.
  11. Harmetz, Aljean (July 28, 1977). "'Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister'". The New York Times. p. 57. Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister is a strange sort of autobiography for a prim Southern girl to have written a sexual odyssey up and down the decades, in which Evelyn Keyes pauses only occasionally to mention a movie she has just started or just finished.
  12. Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland via Google Books.
  13. "Cornel Wilde, Evelyn Keyes In New Technicolor Arabia". Christian Science Monitor. July 13, 1945. p. 4. A traditional Arabian Nights romance, some modern spoofing comedy, and a bit of trick photography have been put together in a lavish Technicolor production to make "A Thousand and One Nights," the new feature at the State and Orpheum.
  14. "SCREEN NEWS; Evelyn Keyes to Co-Star in Columbia's 'Kansan'". The New York Times. May 19, 1945. p. 15.
  15. "Keenan Wynn, Evelyn Keyes In 'The Thrill of Brazil'". Christian Science Monitor. September 27, 1946. p. 4. For those who like South American rhythms, enjoy vigorous Brazilian dancing, and the singing of Tito Guizar, "The Thrill of Brazil," a Columbia musical starring Keenan Wynn and Evelyn Keyes, at the State and Orpheum, is a fiesta.
  16. "EVELYN KEYES SET FOR JOLSON FILM; Named for Ruby Keeler Role After Score Are Tested". The New York Times. November 19, 1945. p. 17. Columbia has confirmed the choice of Evelyn Keyes for the part of Ruby Keeler in "The Al Jolson Story," after having tested more than a score of candidates for the role.
  17. Crowther, Bosley (January 5, 1951). "'Killer That Stalked New York,' About a Diamond Smuggler, Opens at Palace Theatre". The New York Times.
  18. "The Screen: Three Movies Arrive; 'Iron Man,' With Jeff Chandler at Loew's State--'This Is Korea' Also on Bill". The New York Times. August 20, 1951.
  19. Schallert, Edwin (June 27, 1953). "McCrea, Evelyn Keyes Assist Spy Feature". Los Angeles Times. p. A6. "Shoot First," starring Joel McCrea and Evelyn Keyes at Globe, Uptown and Loyola Theaters, poses as a cloak and dagger picture, and was shot mostly in the countryside of England.
  20. Lane, Lydia (August 30, 1953). "Evelyn Keyes Tells Secrets of Beauty Learned in Paris". Los Angeles Times. p. C9. After two years in Europe Evelyn Keyes has been lured back to Hollywood to make "Cross-Town" for United Artists.
  21. Hopper, Hedda (July 21, 1953). "Evelyn Keyes Costars With Wendell Corey". Los Angeles Times. p. A6. Evelyn Keyes' vacation is over. She's heading for Honolulu to costar with Wendell Corey in "Hell's Half Acre" for Republic.
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