Ric Holt has washed dishes on a private yacht, slapped decals on race cars, squired a foreign prince on a shopping spree and spared a dog from death row.

But throughout the adventure that has been his life, there has been one constant, defining milestone: At a time he cannot remember, he had a role in "Gone With the Wind.""As a politician, it certainly hasn't hurt," said Holt, who is running for re-election as a Jackson County commissioner in southern Oregon. "I get people stopping me in the market. They know I was in the movie. They say, `Hey, you haven't changed, have you?' "

Holt will turn 60 next month. But his beaming smile, blue eyes and chubby cheeks still make him recognizable from his brief appearance in the 1939 film as Beau, the child of Melanie Wilkes, played by Olivia de Havilland.

How he landed the role is the stuff of Hollywood legend.

Holt's father had been a chauffeur for Henry Ford in Jacksonville, Fla., and was promised a couple of dealerships. But he gave that up to move to California so his wife could turn their two eldest children into movie stars.

One-year-old Ricky was in his mother's arms on the set of one of his brother's movies when Margaret Mitchell, who wrote "Gone With the Wind," walked by.

"And these were the words: `That's him!"' Holt said. "My mom said, `That's who?' And she said, `Baby Beau.' And that's how I got it."

There were actually two Beaus used in the Civil War epic. One is the swaddled newborn crying in his mother's arms in the back of a horse-drawn wagon while Scarlett steers clear of the hated Yankees. Holt's big scene as Beau comes later, when he is seen holding a wooden spoon while Melanie feeds some starving soldiers.

"Gone With the Wind" collector Jim Tumblin, a retired Universal Pictures makeup man now living in Hawaii, figures Holt was probably paid about the same as Greg Giese, who played the newborn Beau as well as Bonnie Blue, the child of Scarlett and Rhett.

"He was paid $75, and 95 cents was withheld for retirement," Tumblin said, quoting from a copy of Giese's contract.

Holt went on to appear as Pat O'Brien's baby in "Racket Busters" and in a few other flicks, but his movie career never made his family rich.

His father would tell him about working during the Depression, "walking five miles a day with a pick and shovel," Holt said.

Holt's parents split up when he was 13 and a friend's family adopted him. After high school he enlisted in the Air Force and served at a radar installation in the Oregon Coast Range. After his discharge, he went home to Los Angeles. He worked as a maitre d' while taking college classes, and he appeared in a few commercials but stayed away from movies.

Instead, he stumbled into a career with Gulf Oil Co., selling racing oil to sports car drivers, showing off Florida real estate to visiting dignitaries and working in the government affairs office.

Living on a boat in Orange County, Calif., Holt met Peggy Goldwater, daughter of Barry Goldwater. They were married from 1964 to 1975. On Holt's wall is a photo of him riding in a parade with the former senator and presidential candidate.

"He was supposed to ride with his son, but when the parade started his son wasn't around, so he said, `Get in. Nobody will know the difference,' " Holt said.

Early in the 1980s, Holt was stuck in traffic on the freeway in Los Angeles when a woman trying to merge made an obscene gesture. Instead of getting mad, Holt got off the freeway, drove home, packed up his family and moved to Oregon.

He bought the first ranch he found after clearing the Siskiyou Mountains and settled down to feed his wife's quarter horses and raise their three children. Bored with digging post holes, he ran a friend's state senate campaign and, after his second try, got elected himself as county commissioner.

Holt's "Gone With the Wind" credit was mostly forgotten until 1989, when media mogul Ted Turner rounded up surviving cast members for a 50th anniversary re-release and word got around that someone else had been invited to the Atlanta celebration as Baby Beau.

Defending his claim to fame, Holt produced a yellowed clipping from a Los Angeles Times column saying he had been cast in the part.

"We were backstage before Larry King introduced us to the recolorization of the film," Holt said. "Butterfly McQueen and I were talking and Ted Turner moseys up and nudges me. He says, `Ric, do you remember anything about that film?' I looked at Butterfly and winked and said, `Ted, yes I do. I distinctly remember (producer David O.) Selznick leaning down and whispering in my ear, `Ric, remember, you get residuals.' "

Around his rural home, Holt has reminders of his film past. Two books about making "Gone With the Wind" are displayed prominently. A signed letter from Olivia de Havilland with her picture hangs framed on the breakfast room wall.