The 1944 novel Forever Amber was in many ways to the ’40s what Gone with the Wind was to the late 1930s Both novels featured headstrong heroines that climbed their way to the top despite overwhelming odds during historical events of great upheaval. Forever Amber sold over three million copies, and was frequently banned due to material deemed too scandalous.
20th Century Fox purchased the rights to Kathleen Winsor’s book, and the studio began the task of putting the popular story onto the screen. Much like the search for Scarlett O’Hara was played out in the press to great effect and ultimately huge success for Gone with the Wind, the search for Amber St.Clair was also the source of great interest to the public, and the press did their best to drum up enthusiasm for the upcoming film with all of the latest developments in casting. Many names were brought up as suitable candidates, including Vivien Leigh, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and Gene Tierney. Much like with Gone with the Wind, when the relatively unknown Vivien Leigh was brought over from England to star as Scarlett O’Hara, the little known British Actress Peggy Cummins was brought to the United States to star as Amber St.Clair. After six weeks of filming, however, it was apparent that Cummins did not have what it took to take on the role, and she was ultimately replaced with Linda Darnell. However, a few photos of Cummins testing for the role of Amber still exist, including the one above, where she is wearing a gown previously worn on Joan Fontaine as Dona St.Columb in the 1944 adaptation of Daphne De Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek.