Olivia de Havilland was the oldest actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the last surviving cast member of Gone With The Wind. The legendary star over the years had given us some amazing performances and the Academy Award winner has been known as one of the rarest gems of Hollywood.
Losing Olivia de Havilland comes as a tragic blow in the year that has already introduced us with way too many losses. Olivia’s death was due to natural causes and the world lost her on July 25, 2020. She died in her sleep at her home in France.
Let’s revisit the life and success of Olivia de Havilland once again.
Olivia de Havilland Personal Life
Olivia de Havilland was born on July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan but spent most of her life in California. She grew up with her sister, Joan Fontaine, and mother as her father had separated from the family.
Olivia did not have a very smooth relationship with her sister. Joan Fontaine was another celebrated actress of the Golden Era of Hollywood. The rivalry between the sisters dates long before their success in Hollywood.
Apparently, Joan and Olivia were not so close as kids either. So much, that Joan once planned to kill Olivia. She decided she would let Olivia hit her a few times before she will kill her out of ‘self-defense’.
As we can guess, the plan never came into effect. Olivia has been accused of breaking her sister’s collarbone when young. The rivalry further exaggerated when the stars entered Hollywood.
Olivia was already making a name for herself in the industry while Joan wanted to do what her elder sister was doing. Olivia tried distracting Joan for the longest and discouraged her from joining Hollywood.
But, Joan did not listen. She changed her last name in order to establish distinction and Olivia even sarcastically mentioned once that she doesn’t know who Joan Fontaine is!
Olivia de Havilland & ‘Gone with the Wind’
Olivia de Havilland is best known for her role in the legendary movie, ‘Gone With the Wind’. But, Olivia’s career began when she bagged the role of Hermia in the movie ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 1935. After the movie, Olivia signed a seven-year-long contract with Warner Brothers that seemed like a good option in the beginning. As it turns out, it wasn’t.
In 1939, Olivia de Havilland starred in the movie Gone with the Wind. The Civil War-era movie was a massive success back then and Olivia’s breakthrough performance earned her an Oscar nomination. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress but lost it to Hattie McDaniel.
Olivia’s character as Melanie made the audience take her as a serious actress. Melanie and Scarlett O’Hara both fought for the love of Ashley Wikes. But, it was the calm and mature character of Melanie who won his heart. Scarlett O’Hara, on the other hand, ended up with Rhett Butler.
Olivia de Havilland Career
Olivia de Havilland worked in movies like ‘The Adventure of Robin Hood’ and ‘Captain Blood’ during the initial stages of her career. After her big success in Gone with the Wind, the actress gave another astonishing performance in Hold Back Dawn. She received an Academy nomination for Best Actress but the award was taken away by none other than, her sister, Joan Fontaine.
Olivia made a promising comeback with her movie ‘To Each His Own’ and bagged the Oscar for Best Actress. She also starred in ‘The Snake Pit’ in 1948 and played the role of a mentally disturbed woman. The movie garnered a lot of appreciation as the subject back then was not much talked about. She played the role of a wealthy young woman in 1949 in the movie ‘The Heiress’ and bagged her second Academy for Best Actress.
She has also worked in movies ‘Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte ’, ‘Airport ‘77 and ‘The Swarm’.
Olivia de Havilland & Warner Brothers
Olivia de Havilland signed a contract of seven years with Warner Brothers. By the end of the contract, Warner Brothers claimed that the time when Olivia owed them more time due to legalities. Olivia did not humor their whims and took the matter to court. Olivia won the legal battle again Warner Brothers and the court made a rule that studios cannot make a contract for longer than 7 years with an artist.