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

0
4

Hollywood icon Olivia de Havilland — the Oscar-winning star of timeless classics including “Gone With the Wind” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” — died Sunday, according to her rep.

She was 104.

The two-time Academy Award-winning actress died peacefully from natural causes at the home in her home in Paris, France where she had lived more than 60 years, her publicist Lisa Goldberg said.


“We at TCM are saddened to hear that beloved film icon and one of the last remaining stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Olivia de Havilland has passed away,” Turner Classic Movies also confirmed in a tweet.

Long considered one of the greats from Hollywood’s golden era, de Havilland was also behind a pivotal legal victory in 1944 that forever changed Hollywood’s studio system and the business of moviemaking.

She successfully sued Warner Bros. to stop it from tying her to the studio after she refused to accept the roles she was being offered — a liberation still unofficially known as the “De Havilland law.”

De Havilland had turned 104 in July and was the longest surviving star of “Gone With the Wind” — an irony she took delight in given that her character, Melanie Wilkes, was the only major one to die in the film.

Starring alongside Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, she called the 1939 epic “one of the happiest experiences I’ve ever had in my life.”

“It was doing something I wanted to do, playing a character I loved and liked,” she once said.

During a career that spanned six decades, de Havilland played roles ranging from an unwed mother to a psychiatric inmate in “The Snake Pit,” a personal favorite.

She won two Oscars — for 1946’s “To Each His Own,” and three years later for “The Heiress.” She also received a National Medal of Arts in 2008 and was awarded France’s Legion of Honor two years later.

She starred alongside Errol Flynn in a series of movies — most notably as Maid Marian in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” — but insisted she remained purely professional with the notorious womanizer.

“Oh, Errol had such magnetism! There was nobody who did what he did better than he did,” she once said of him.

“We were lovers together so often on the screen that people could not accept that nothing had happened between us.”

De Havilland did, however, date eccentric movie magnate Howard Hughes as well as “It’s a Wonderful Life” star James Stewart.

She also had an intense affair in the early ’40s with director John Huston — one that led to a falling out with her friend Bette Davis, who complained that Huston was giving his lover more screen time when they both appeared in his film “In This Our Life.”

She married twice — to Marcus Goodrich and Pierre Galante — both ending in divorce. She had a son, Benjamin, with Goodrich and a daughter, Giselle, with Galante, who was a journalist.

One of her most fractious relationships was with her sister, fellow actress Joan Fontaine — who she dubbed “Dragon Lady” and in 1942 went head-to-head with for Best Actress honors at the Oscars. Fontaine won.

Four years later, when de Havilland won for “To Each His Own,” she refused to shake her sister’s hand when she offered congratulations — a moment captured by photographers.

De Havilland once said her memories of Fontaine, who died in 2013, were “multi-faceted, varying from endearing to alienating.”

“On my part, it was always loving, but sometimes estranged and, in the later years, severed,” she said. “Dragon Lady, as I eventually decided to call her, was a brilliant, multi-talented person, but with an astigmatism in her perception of people and events which often caused her to react in an unfair and even injurious way.”

A naturalized American who was born to English parents in Japan, De Havilland’s family moved to California when she and Joan were children.

She began her movie career after director Max Reinhardt saw her in a California production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and cast her in his 1935 film version of the play. It led to her contentious Warner Bros. contract.

After her lengthy, groundbreaking career, De Havilland eventually gave up on Hollywood and moved to Paris in the early 1950s.

She only made a few more appearances, including as the Queen Mother in the TV movie “Charles and Diana.”

The actress never lost her fighting spirit, however — and at 102 sued FX over the unauthorized use of her identity in the 2017 docudrama “Feud: Bette and Joan,” where she was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

“I was furious. I certainly expected that I would be consulted about the text. I never imagined that anyone would misrepresent me,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2018, adding that the series characterized her as a “vulgar gossip” and a “hypocrite.”

The case was expedited due to De Havilland’s advanced age, but the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case in early 2019.

Despite her success, De Havilland said she never felt worthy for the timeless roles she mastered.

“The first day of making a film I feel, `Why did I ever get mixed up in this profession? I have no talent; this time they’ll find out,’” she once said.

With Post Wires





By Lee Brown

Source link


LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here