One of the last stars of Hollywood’s golden age, two-time Oscar winner, who plays Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, Olivia de Havilland, has died in Paris at the age of 104. She remained the only living star in the film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel. The actress died of natural causes, reported CNN its representative is Lisa Goldberg.
Olivia de Havilland was born on July 1, 1916 in Tokyo, where her father taught at a British college, later the family moved to California. Already at the age of 18, de Havilland signed a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers studio. There she got roles in a duet with the famous Errol Flynn in films such as Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood. However, the actress was not always happy with the studio’s offers, she turned down a number of roles and was suspended from work several times.
At the end of the contract, Warner Brothers said that de Havilland owed the studio six months, and demanded to work this time. The actress objected that the contract was for seven years, and not for the actual time spent on work, and took the unprecedented step of starting a legal battle with the movie giant. The Supreme Court agreed with de Havilland, declaring that the contract was enslaving. Thus, the actress virtually revolutionized Hollywood by ending the old system in which the actor was essentially the property of the studio.
Going to court, de Havilland took risks, and after winning almost three years did not appear on the screen, but then her career took off. She became one of the most sought-after actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood. The role of the meek, “saint” Melanie Hamilton – the wife of Ashley Wilkes, in whom the main character of “Gone with the Wind” Scarlett O’Hara was in love, brought her her first Oscar nomination, but then she did not get the statuette. De Havilland received her first Oscar as Best Actress in 1947 for her role in the film To Each His Own. The second award followed his performance in the 1949 film The Heiress. De Havilland has also received two Golden Globes.
“To Each His Own,” “The Heiress,” “Gone with the Wind” and so many others. A two-time Best Actress Oscar winner, Olivia de Havilland was a mainstay of Hollywood’s Golden Age and an immeasurable talent. Here’s to a true legend of our industry. pic.twitter.com/VYMMNknh4v– The Academy (@TheAcademy) July 26, 2020
At the same time, de Havilland’s younger sister Joan Fontaine made a successful film career. They are the only Hollywood relatives who received Oscars as the best actresses, and Fontaine in 1942 stole the coveted statuette from under Olivia’s nose. There was no friendship between the sisters from childhood until Fontaine’s death in 2013, which provided rich food for the tabloids.
In 1965, de Havilland became the first woman to chair the jury at the Festival de Cannes. By that time, there was a decline in her career, by the 80s the actress stopped acting in films, but appeared in television projects. One of them – the mini-series “Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna” brought her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2008, US President George W. Bush presented Olivia de Havilland with the US National Medal of the Arts. In 2010, she became a Knight Commander of the French Legion of Honor, and in 2017 – Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.