On the evening of January 29, 1940, King Street’s Gloria Theatre was humming with excitement.
Gone with the Wind was making its South Carolina premiere, and though Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh’s names were on the marquee, it was one of Charleston’s own—Alicia Rhett, in the role of India Wilkes—who locals were dying to see. She was in attendance that night, along with several other actors from the film, and couldn’t have asked for a more glamorous hometown venue for her silver-screen debut. Opened by Albert Sottile in 1927, the lavish movie house and vaudeville stage featured ornate ironwork and sculpture, a goldfish pond in the foyer, and a dome ceiling with hundreds of twinkling stars. In addition to Gone with the Wind, the Gloria hosted a slew of Hollywood screenings over its nearly 50-year run. The building was purchased by the College of Charleston when its doors finally closed in 1976, soon to be restored and renamed after its creator. Today, a variety of perfomances are still held at the Sottile Theatre, giving patrons a glimpse of the iconic space’s original splendor.
Photograph courtesy of College of Charleston