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Olivia de Havilland was born in Tokyo, Japan, on July 1, 1916. She was gone with the wind on July 26, 2020, from her home in Paris, France. Olivia de Havilland's life spanned 104 years, and her career gained the actress a degree of film immortality.
She will always be remembered as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, the fiancée, then wife, of Ashley Wilkes (Lesleigh Howard). Ms. de Havilland's portrayal of the shy, forgiving, kind Melanie was seasoned with grace and intelligence. This character stood in sharp contrast to her jealous, high-spirited sister-in-law, the legendary Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh). Ms. de Havilland's performance in Gone with the Wind earned her an Oscar nomination, but the award went to Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy, Scarlett's enslaved housekeeper. livia de Havilland spent much of her childhood in Saratoga, California, where she, her mother, and younger sister, Joan, moved after her parents divorced. Her British father and mother were, respectively, manager of a firm of patent lawyers, and an elocution teacher. Olivia married and divorced twice — Marcus Aurelius Goodrich, a Texas- born writer (1946–1952, son, Benjamin), and Pierre Galante, author and editor (1955–1979, daughter, Gisele). Ms. de Havilland was also seen with James Stewart, Howard Hughes, John Huston, and John F. Kennedy. After portraying Hermia in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Hollywood Bowl, Olivia reprised her role in a 1935 film with James Cagney and Dick Powell. This led to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers, where she began a famed screen pairing with Errol Flynn. They first appeared together in Captain Blood in 1935. The popular couple starred together in several films, including as Robin Hood and Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). Shortly after that film, Olivia's true dramatic talents were on display in Gone with the Wind (1939). This Civil War-era drama, based on the Margaret Mitchell novel, was one of the top films of the year and is still considered to be a classic tale of love, chivalry, and rivalry. Other film roles came along, and in her later years, Ms. de Havilland appeared in a few TV roles and the occasional film. In 1958, she moved to Paris and stayed there until she died in her sleep at home.
• Olivia's sister, Joan, is best-known as Joan Fontaine, taking her stepfather's name as her stage name.
• Olivia earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her role in the drama, Hold Back the Dawn (1941), with Charles Boyer. She lost out that year to sister Joan.
• In 1946, Olivia won the Best Actress Academy Award for To Each His Own, wherein she played an unwed mother. This gave her and her sister the honor of being the only siblings to win the Awards in a leading category.
• In the groundbreaking 1948 The Snake Pit, de Havilland played a troubled woman who is sent to an insane asylum. It was one of the first films to tackle mental health issues.
• Olivia played a wealthy young woman torn between her love (Montgomery Clift) and her father (Ralph Richardson) in The Heiress (1949). This earned her a second Best Actress Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
• Ms. de Havilland battled with Warner Brothers over her lack of good roles and a contract dispute. Her court win created the de Havilland rule, limiting contracts to a maximum of seven years. She was known for her strong stand in studio matters, despite her petite 5-foot-3 frame.
• Catherine Zeta-Jones portrayed de Havilland in Feud: Bette and Joan, a 2017 FX TV series. Olivia sued FX and Ryan Murphy Productions for the way she was portrayed, but the courts ruled against her.
• One reason she moved to Paris with husband Pierre Galante, was to escape the Hollywood celebrity cult. “Famous people feel that they must perpetually be on the crest of the wave, not realizing that it is against all the rules of life,” she once said. “You can’t be on top all the time, it isn’t natural.”
• "Olivia de Havilland was not only beautiful and talented, she was a courageous visionary and an inspiration to generations," SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement.
A Few of Olivia’s Films and TV Appearances
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
Captain Blood (1935)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
To Each His Own (1946)
The Snake Pit (1948)
The Heiress (1949)
Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965)
Airport '77 (1977)
The Swarm (1978)
The Danny Thomas Hour
The Love Boat
Roots: The Next Generations (1979)
Anastasis: the Mystery of Anna (1986)