The Canada-born actress, who had been suffering with heart problems in recent years, passed away on Monday (11Jun12) at her home in Beverly Hills, California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The daughter of opera singer John Rutherford and actress Lillian Mansfield, Rutherford was destined for showbusiness and made her stage debut in 1925, at the age of five. She began her career as a radio actress in her teens and landed her first movie role in 1935’s Waterfront Lady.
She starred in a series of westerns with a young John Wayne before landing a contract with MGM Studios and appearing in films such as A Christmas Carol and Pride and Prejudice in 1940.
Rutherford was also known for her portrayal of Polly Benedict in movie legend Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy film series in the late 1930s.
However, she will perhaps be best remembered as the demure Careen, the younger sister of lead character Scarlett O’Hara in the classic 1939 movie adaptation of Gone with the Wind. The film won eight Academy Awards and has since gone on to receive a further two honorary Oscars.
Flowers have been placed on her stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rutherford is one of the few celebrities to have two Walk of Fame honours – one for her movie career and another for her television successes.