Vale: Olivia de Havilland
Golden age star, best known for Gone with the Wind, has died, aged 104.
Golden age Hollywood star Olivia de Havilland, best known for Gone with the Wind, has died, aged 104.
She died of natural causes in Paris, where she has resided since 1953.
Miss De Havilland is widely referred to as the eldest star of her generation, with a career spanning more than five decades.
She played Southern belle Melanie in Gone With the Wind in 1939, landing her first Academy Award nomination. Her earliest credit was in 1935’s Alibi Ike.
“I felt very drawn to Melanie,” de Havilland later said.
“She was a complex personality compared to the heroines I’d been playing over and over.”
De Havilland made 50 movies in her career and nine were with Aussie Errol Flynn, including Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Adventures of Robin Hood and They Died With Their Boots On.
Other credits include The Dark Mirror, The Snake Pit, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Devotion, The Swarm and The Fifth Musketeer.
In 1943 de Havilland began a legal battle with Warner Bros over the conditions of her contract.
She won in court, weakening the major studios’ dominance over actors.
But challenging a powerful studio had been a risky career move and she did not make a movie for three years.
She was the older sister (by 15 months) and rival of actress Joan Fontaine, who died in 2013, aged 96. Fontaine won her only Oscar in 1942 for Suspicion, beating out fellow nominee de Havilland. Four years later when de Havilland won for To Each His Own, Fontaine extended a congratulatory hand at the ceremony but de Havilland did not acknowledge her. The sisters stopped speaking altogether in 1975 after their mother died.
Days before her 101st birthday, she sued FX and Ryan Murphy Productions over how she was portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones in Feud: Bette and Joan, but an appeals court ruled against her in March 2018.
Her television credits include North and South: Book II, Roots: The Next Generations, Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, The Love Boat, and The Big Valley.
In 2004 she said, “It was the character of Melanie that attracted me most because of her admirable qualities and the values that meant so much to her and meant so much to me.
“I wanted to perpetuate these values. And the perfect way to do that of course would be to play the part of Melanie.”