Olivia de Havilland, star of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ dies at 104

Olivia de Havilland, star of 'Gone With the Wind,' dies at 104

Olivia de Havilland, a two-time Oscar winner and for many years the final surviving star of “Gone With the Wind,” has died on the age of 104, her publicist Lisa Goldberg informed CNN.

The actress died Sunday of pure causes at her residence in Paris, Goldberg mentioned. She lived in Paris for greater than six a long time. De Havilland emerged as a star throughout the traditional film period — first as a romantic companion for Errol Flynn in swashbucklers resembling “Captain Blood” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” after which as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in “Gone With the Wind” (1939), thought of the highest moneymaking movie of all time when adjusted for inflation.
By the late 1940s, she had grow to be one of many display‘s prime actresses.
However her off-screen function in a lawsuit towards her employer, Warner Bros., could have been her most notable achievement in Hollywood. In 1943, de Havilland sued the studio after it tried to increase her seven-year contract, which was expiring. Beneath the studio system, actors confronted suspension with out pay in the event that they turned down roles, and the suspension time was added to their contracts.
De Havilland’s eventual courtroom victory helped shift the ability from the large studios of that period to the mega-celebrities and highly effective expertise businesses of in the present day.
“Hollywood actors can be without end in Olivia’s debt,” de Havilland’s pal and frequent co-star Bette Davis wrote in her autobiography, “The Lonely Life.”
De Havilland later recalled how rewarding the ruling was for her.
I used to be very happy with that call, for it corrected a critical abuse of the contract system — compelled extension of a contract past its authorized time period. Amongst those that benefited by the choice have been the actors who fought in World Battle II and who, all through that battle, have been on suspension,” the actress informed the Display Actors Guild in a 1994 interview.
Lately, Jared Leto credited the so-called de Havilland Regulation for serving to his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, in a contract dispute with its report label.
About three-quarters of a century after that landmark ruling, de Havilland misplaced a lawsuit she introduced towards the makers of the 2017 FX Networks miniseries, “Feud: Bette and Joan.”
The US Supreme Court docket declined to assessment the case after the centenarian did not persuade a California appellate courtroom that the filmmakers had depicted her in a false mild and may have gotten her permission to be portrayed within the drama.
Extra importantly for de Havilland, she gained freedom to pursue higher roles in award-winning movies resembling “To Every His Personal” (1946), “The Snake Pit” (1948) and “The Heiress” (1949).
Her first Oscar win — for “To Every His Personal” — additionally introduced into the highlight an usually strained relationship along with her well-known youthful sister, Joan Fontaine. On the 1947 ceremony, Fontaine tried to congratulate her sibling backstage, however de Havilland brushed her apart, reportedly telling her press agent, “I do not know why she does that when she is aware of how I really feel.”
Fontaine, also an Oscar winner, died in December 2013, at age 96, fueling press hypothesis about whether or not the sisters had ended one among Hollywood’s most well-known household feuds earlier than her demise.
“I remorse that I bear in mind not one act of kindness from her all by way of my childhood,” Fontaine mentioned of her sister in her memoir, “No Mattress of Roses.”
De Havilland hardly ever made any public remarks about her sibling. Requested about their relations in a 2006 interview with David Thomson, she replied, “How shall I put it? Nicely, let’s simply say they stand nonetheless.”
On the time of Fontaine’s demise, she issued a press release that she was “shocked and saddened” by the information.

Shakespeare, then swashbucklers

Olivia Mary de Havilland was born July 1, 1916, in Tokyo to British mother and father. Each Olivia and Joan have been usually in poor health as youngsters, and their mom determined to return to England for remedy. A stopover in San Francisco led the trio to settle in Saratoga, California. Finally the womenmother and father divorced, and their mom remarried.
De Havilland caught the appearing bug in a faculty manufacturing of “Alice in Wonderland.” Her dedication to the craft led her to defy her stepfather’s warning towards showing in performs and to go away house early earlier than graduating from highschool.
She bought her first skilled break as an understudy for Gloria Stuart (later the aged Rose in “Titanic”) in Max Reinhardt’s manufacturing of “A Midsummer Evening‘s Dream.” After Stuart bowed out, de Havilland received the function of Hermia and made her stage debut in Shakespeare. The Hollywood Bowl look led to a contract with Warner Bros. and the 1935 movie model of the play.

Vivien Leigh, Olivia De Havilland and Leslie Howard in "Gone with the Wind."

De Havilland later mentioned her swashbuckling co-star was her old flame however that the timing was by no means proper, particularly for the wayward Flynn.
“I had a fantastic crush on him,” she informed The New York Occasions in 1976. “Finally, he bought one on me. It was inevitable to fall in love with him. He was so naughty and so charming.”
Flynn maybe set the tone for his or her relationship by taking part in sensible jokes on his co-star, even hiding a snake as soon as in her panties earlier than a dressing up change.
“It slowly penetrated my obtuse thoughts that such juvenile pranks weren’t the way in which to any woman‘s coronary heart. But it surely was too late. I could not soften her,” Flynn admits in his autobiography, “My Depraved, Depraved Methods,” noting he had fallen for de Havilland by their second movie, “The Cost of the Mild Brigade” (1936).
Whereas the films with Flynn have been standard, the roles have been hardly ever difficult. The actress started to really feel trapped taking part in stunning however demure heroines.

Recollections of Melanie

When Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” grew to become an enormous bestseller within the late ’30s, each actress appeared to be vying for the function of Scarlett O’Hara, the egocentric, headstrong heroine. However not de Havilland. She had her eyes on Melanie, Scarlett’s candy and sympathetic sister-in-law.
“Scarlett did not curiosity me in any respect. She was a profession woman, in any case, and I used to be a profession woman,” the actress told The New York Times in 2004. “Melanie was one thing else. She is a contented girl, she is a loving girl, and you can not say Scarlett was loving.”
The one impediment for de Havilland was her contract with Warner Bros., which was reluctant to mortgage her to producer David O. Selznick for the movie.
De Havilland, then in her early 20s, strategized about how you can win the half, deciding to make her case earlier than the boss’ spouse. Over tea, the actress pleaded with Ann Warner to intervene on her behalf. Jack L. Warner lastly relented, and de Havilland headed to Selznick Worldwide to make what many in Hollywood thought was going to be a catastrophe.
However the star later informed author Gavin Lambert she at all times knew the film can beone thing particular, one thing which might final without end.”
Melanie was the primary of de Havilland’s roles to downplay her attractiveness. It additionally revealed her affinity for taking part in “good ladies.”
I feel they’re tougher,” she defined to the Occasions in 2004. “As a result of the overall idea is that if you happen to‘re good, you are not fascinating. And that idea annoys me, frankly.”
De Havilland earned the primary of 5 Oscar nominations with a finest supporting actress nod for “Gone With the Wind,” however she misplaced to co-star Hattie McDaniel, who grew to become the primary African American to win an Academy Award.

A studio battle, then a profession peak

Returning to Warner Bros. after “Gone With the Wind” was not simple. De Havilland found she would have a supporting function in a movie with Flynn. Bette Davis was the main girl in “The Non-public Lives of Elizabeth and Essex,” with de Havilland decreased to the queen’s lady-in-waiting.
Good roles for actresses have been onerous to return by on the studio recognized for its robust, masculine picture, and Davis dominated the roost as its lone main feminine star.
De Havilland started to defy Warner Bros., rejecting elements in movies she did not like and taking suspensions.
In a single shiny spot, she scored a finest actress nomination for an additional loan-out deal, “Maintain Again the Daybreak” (1941), as a spinsterish schoolteacher who falls for European refugee Charles Boyer as he is struggling to enter the US. She misplaced once more, this time to her sister, Fontaine, who received for “Suspicion” (1941).
De Havilland was prepared to maneuver on when her contract expired. Nevertheless, Warner Bros. had different concepts, tacking on 25 weeks from her suspensions to the contract.
She determined to take authorized motion, a dangerous transfer that might hold her off the display for practically three years. If she misplaced the lawsuit, her Hollywood profession is likely to be over.
I actually had no selection however to battle,” the actress recalled to the Los Angeles Occasions in 2006.
The California Court docket of Attraction for the 2nd District upheld a decrease courtroom ruling in de Havilland’s favor, discovering {that a} private service contract was restricted to a calendar yr of seven years.
Studio chief Warner admitted in his autobiography that de Havilland had “licked” him. He famous his onetime star “had a mind like a pc hid behind these fawnlike brown eyes.”
De Havilland now was in a position to plot her profession. Inside three years, she had received two Academy Awards.
She displayed a brand new versatility in “To Every His Personal,” transferring in flashbacks from a younger unwed mom who loses her son to a middle-aged businesswoman. “The Darkish Mirror,” additionally from 1946, showcased Olivia de Havilland in twin roles as similar twins — one good and the opposite a disturbed killer.
However she actually got here into her personal as an actress with the “The Snake Pit” and “The Heiress.”
The previous — a take a look at a girl who spirals into psychological sicknessseems dated in the present day, however critics in 1948 praised the film and actress for tackling such a critical topic.
De Havilland reached the height of her profession in William Wyler’s “The Heiress” as Catherine Sloper, a plain, awkward woman courted by a fortune hunter for her inheritance. She turns into an embittered girl who turns the tables on a chilly, unloving father (Ralph Richardson) and her suitor (Montgomery Clift).
This adaptation of a play primarily based on Henry James’ “Washington Sq.received de Havilland her second Oscar for finest actress.

Later years

Olivia de Havilland ‘s display profession inevitably started to chill within the 1950s and ’60s, though she nonetheless had memorable roles in “My Cousin Rachel” (1952) and “Mild within the Piazza” (1962). She teamed up with Davis in “Hush, Hush, Candy Charlotte” (1964), a follow-up to “What Ever Occurred to Child Jane?” (1962). In a shock twist, de Havilland had the villainous function.
She additionally appeared on Broadway in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Candida” and “A Present of Time” with Henry Fonda. Within the ’70s and ’80s, she took supporting roles in catastrophe motion pictures resembling “Airport ’77” (1977) and “The Swarm” (1978) and on tv in “Roots: The Subsequent Generations,” the 1979 sequel to the landmark miniseries. She obtained an Emmy nomination for finest supporting actress in a miniseries or particular for one among her last roles, “Anastasia: The Thriller of Anna” (1986).
She retired from appearing within the late ’80s however continued to make public appearances and obtain honors for her lengthy profession, together with the Nationwide Medal of Arts in 2008 “for her lifetime achievements and contributions to American tradition as an actress” and France’s Legion of Honor in 2010.
In June 2017, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II made de Havilland a dame “for providers to drama” — two weeks’ shy of her 101st birthday.
The star was recognized for courting many notable bachelors in her Hollywood heyday, together with Howard Hughes, James Stewart and director John Huston. She was married, and divorced, twice — first to author Marcus Goodrich after which Paris Match editor Pierre Galante. Her son, Benjamin Goodrich, died in 1991 from problems of Hodgkin lymphoma. Daughter Gisèle Galante is a journalist.
Information accounts usually reported the actress was engaged on a long-awaited autobiography, however nothing appeared throughout her lifetime. She did write a 1962 memoir about her life in France referred to asEach Frenchman Has One.”
De Havilland survived nearly all of her contemporaries from the films‘ golden age — even writing a tribute to the youthful Mickey Rooney for Time when he handed away in April 2014. Mockingly, the sickly Melanie died close to the tip of “Gone With the Wind,” but the actress who performed her lengthy outlived co-stars Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard and McDaniel.
Requested 20 years in the past to elucidate her longevity, this “Metal Magnolia” informed a Display Actors Guild interviewer, “I do not perceive the queryI am solely 78 years outdated!”

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