At 104, British-American actress, Olivia de Havilland died on Sunday, the 26th of July, at her Paris home due to natural causes. The incident was first confirmed by her publicist, Lisa Goldberg.
Olivia de Havilland was the last living cast member of the iconic “Gone With The Wind”, in which she played the coy Melanie Hamilton. Beginning her career with typical roles, de Havilland later grew to play more challenging roles that would earn the actress multiple Academy Award nominations.
Olivia was born to the late English actress Lillian Fontaine and law professor, Walter Augustus de Havilland in Tokyo on the 1st of July, 1916. Along with her two daughters, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine, Lillian moved to the city of Saratoga in San Francisco, California.
Having an affinity towards stage plays since the very beginning, de Havilland had always wanted to become a stage actress. But with her debut in the Max Reinhardt’s adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the actress made it into the big screen.
Two times Oscar award winner de Havilland has acted in almost fifty movies over fifty years. For her outstanding portrayal of the lady who bears a child out of wedlock in the film To Each His Own (1946), she won her first Oscar. After three years, she bagged her second Oscar for The Heiress (1949).
Olivia de Havilland is also known for her fight against the atrocities of famous studios. She is the reason actors are entitled to more freedom today, essentially to turn down roles without much loss. At 27, when she was denied liberty from the already expired seven-year contract with Warner Bros, de Havilland filed a lawsuit against the empire and won. This led to contract terms changing. Previously the time period was calculated on the number of days the actor would actually work, ignoring suspension periods. It was revised to be made to calculated based on calendar days instead. Informally, this change is still called “The de Havilland Law”.
Olivia de Havilland was also famously known for her tiffs with her late sister, Joan Fontaine. Fontaine was also a well-known actress of the era. It has been reported that the two did not have a very good relationship since childhood. Rumours only got worse when both the sisters got nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942. Olivia was nominated for Hold Back the Dawn and Joan for Suspicion, for which the latter won.
The Oscar-winning actress’ last film role was in the 1979 movie, The Fifth Musketeer. But this did not mark the end of her contributions to Hollywood. In 2009, de Havilland was the narrator for the documentary I Remember Better When I Paint.
Apart from two Oscars, Olivia also won the Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the series Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. Additionally, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2008, the highest honour for anyone in the entertainment industry.
Here is a tribute to Olivia de Havilland from The Hollywood Tribune. And stay tuned to The Hollywood Tribune for more news from Hollywood and beyond!