Who ever heard of a man named Ashley? Today, Ashley is more suited for females, but in 1939 the name Ashley was one of the top names in America for little boys born that year. Why? Because of Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, played by Leslie Howard.
Howard had been around the theater and film for sometime, but this role would ultimately be the one everyone would remember. The patient, loving, compassionate Ashley. Always the gentleman, and Scarlett’s first love. Even though Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler had more screen time, and was the leading man, Leslie Howard’s Ashley Wilkes was the true hero of the film.
Leslie Howard played this role the way William Powell played his in the Thin Man, perfectly. Leslie would not even be granted an Oscar nomination for his Gone With the Wind role, even though every other role received one. Actually Leslie Howard was only nominated twice in his career, both for leading roles, and he never won.