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Thread: Olivia de Havilland, Sophisticated Star of Hollywood's Golden Age, Dies at 104

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    Elite Member Neptunia's Avatar
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    Default Olivia de Havilland, Sophisticated Star of Hollywood's Golden Age, Dies at 104

    The two-time Oscar winner, so memorable in 'Gone With the Wind,' 'The Adventures of Robin Hood,' 'The Snake Pit' and 'The Heiress,' broke free of Warner Bros. with a watershed court triumph in the 1940s.




    Olivia de Havilland, the delicate beauty and last remaining star of Gone With the Wind who received her two acting Oscars after helping to take down Hollywood’s studio system with a landmark legal victory in the 1940s, died Sunday. She was 104.
    De Havilland died of natural causes at her home in Paris, where she had lived for more than 60 years, publicist Lisa Goldberg announced.
    She was the older sister (by 15 months) and rival of fellow Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, who died in December 2013 at age 96. Fontaine won her only Oscar in 1942 for Suspicion, beating out fellow nominee de Havilland.
    De Havilland captured her best actress Oscar statuettes for To Each His Own (1946), in which she played an unwed mother who is forced to give up her baby and loves him from afar, and The Heiress (1949), where she starred as a vulnerable woman who falls hard for a handsome journeyman (Montgomery Clift) against the wishes of her emotionally abusive father (Ralph Richardson). She was the oldest surviving Oscar-winning actor.
    For her performance as the sweet and suffering Melanie in Gone With the Wind (1939), de Havilland earned her first Oscar nom, but in the supporting actress category, she lost to fellow castmember Hattie McDaniel.asylum for reasons she can’t recall. It was one of the earliest films to attempt a realistic portrayal of mental illness and perhaps the most challenging The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), where she played a sweet Maid Marian, and she teamed with director Michael Curtiz nine times as well.




    Late Turner Classic Movies host and THR columnist Robert Osborne wonderfully captured the essence of de Havilland and her career (they were close friends and spoke almost every Sunday for years) in a video when the actress was named the channel's "Star of the Month" in July 2016.
    But for all her work onscreen, de Havilland’s greatest impact on Hollywood came away from the soundstage in 1943 when she sued Warner Bros. to gain freedom from the studio after her seven-year contract had expired.
    At the time, Hollywood lawyers took the position that a contract should be treated as suspended during the periods when the artist was not actually working. This interpretation meant that, in de Havilland’s case, seven years of actual service would be spread over a much longer period.
    Angered when Warners tried to extend her deal after she was suspended for rejecting a series of roles she deemed were inferior, de Havilland sued the studio. In 1945, the courts ruled that not only was de Havilland free, but all artists were to be limited to the calendar terms of their deals.



    “I was deeply gratified when, returning to MGM after his long and distinguished military service, Jimmy Stewart asked the court on the basis of that decision for a ruling on his contract — and thus the contracts of other actor-veterans — and received, of course, a favorable verdict,” de Havilland said in a 1992 interview with Screen Actor.

    “When I won the final round of my case on Feb. 3, 1945, every actor was now confirmed as free of his long-term contract at the end of its seven-year term, regardless of how many suspensions he had taken during those seven years. No one thought I would win, but after I did, flowers, letters and telegrams arrived from my fellow actors. This was wonderfully rewarding.”
    It's now known in legal circles as The De Havilland Decision.
    Still feisty in the days before her 101st birthday, the actress 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. Then, neither the California Supreme Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court thought intervention was warranted.
    Olivia Mary de Havilland was born in Tokyo on July 1, 1916. Her father, Walter, was a British patent attorney with a thriving practice, while her mother, Lilian, was a sometime actress who wanted her girls to follow in her footsteps.
    At age 3, de Havilland went with her mom and sister to live in California and was educated at a convent. Following high school, she enrolled at Mills College in Oakland, where she became interested in acting. In a Hollywood Bowl production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, the impresario Max Reinhardt, who was casting a film production of the play for Warners, spotted her (an understudy, she was playing Hermia when Gloria Stuart dropped out) and signed her up.
    MGM/Photofest
    Olivia de Havilland as Melanie in 1939's 'Gone With the Wind'


    In quick succession, de Havilland co-starred in four movies in 1935: Alibi Ike, The Irish in Us, the Midsummer film and Captain Blood, her first collaboration with Flynn and Curtiz. She then toiled in a number of lackluster productions in the late '30s, including two more with Flynn in 1939, Dodge City and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.
    The radiant de Havilland got the chance of a lifetime when Warners lent her out to David O. Selznick and MGM for GWTW. (Fontaine once said that she was the one who recommended de Havilland for the part after she was considered too “stylish.” De Havilland also took Selznick's wife out to tea at the Brown Derby in an effort to have her sway her husband.)
    As the decent, self-effacing Melanie, de Havilland was perfect.
    “Playing good girls in the ’30s was difficult when the fad was to play bad girls,” she once said. “Actually, I think playing bad girls is a bore; I have always had more luck with good girl roles because they require more from an actress.”
    After GWTW, de Havilland returned to Warners and made several forgettable films. She landed her next great role — again, it was on a loan-out, this time to Paramount — for Hold Back the Dawn, which resulted in her second Oscar nom, this time for best actress. But she lost to Fontaine, who won for her turn in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion.



    The sisters were seated at the same table when Fontaine’s name was called. Biographer Charles Higham wrote that as Fontaine came forward to accept her award, she rejected de Havilland’s attempt to congratulate her and that de Havilland was offended. In fact, the sisters never got along since childhood.
    “I stared across the table, where Olivia was sitting directly opposite me. ‘Get up there, get up there,’ Olivia whispered commandingly. Now what had I done?” Fontaine recalled in her 1978 autobiography, No Bed of Roses. “All the animus we’d felt toward each other as children, the hair-pullings, the savage wrestling watches, the time Olivia fractured my collarbone, all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery. My paralysis was total.”
    Five years later, after de Havilland won her Oscar and completed her acceptance speech, she was approached backstage by Fontaine. But, as was immortalized in a photo snapped by Hymie Fink of Photoplay, Olivia appeared to turn away and snub her.
    De Havilland’s press agent Henry Rogers told reporters: “The girls haven’t spoken to each other for four months. Miss de Havilland had no wish to have her picture taken with her sister. This goes back for years and years, ever since they were kids — a case of two sisters who don’t have a great deal in common.”
    The sisters quarreled (or didn't speak to each other) in the subsequent decades, according to many reports. Fontaine told THR's Scott Feinberg shortly before her death that “this ‘Olivia feud’ has always irritated me because it has no basis. To this day it has no basis!”
    But de Havilland noted her sister, while "brilliant and very gifted," had "an astigmatism in her perception of both people and situations, which could cause and did cause great distress in others," she said in an interview with People magazine as she neared her 100th birthday. "I was among those, and eventually this brought about an estrangement between us which did not change in the last years of her life."
    After her standout work in the ’40s, de Havilland’s screen appearances became increasingly rare. Her subsequent movies included My Cousin Rachel (1952) and such generic fare as Libel (1959), Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), Lady in a Cage (1964) and The Adventurers (1969). Her last movie performance came in 1979’s The Fifth Musketeer.
    Universal Pictures/Photofest
    Olivia de Havilland played twins in 1946's 'The Dark Mirror'


    De Havilland also appeared in a handful of TV movies during the 1980s, including Murder Is Easy, The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana and, in her last credited role, 1988’s The Woman He Loved, playing Queen Anne.
    She chafed at the pace and the mentality of TV producers and production companies.
    “The TV business is soul-crushing, talent-destroying and human-being destroying,” she said. “These men in their black towers don’t know what they are doing. It’s slave labor. There is no elegance left in anybody. They have no taste. Movies are being financed by conglomerates, which take a write-off if they don’t work. The only people who fight for what the public deserves are artists.”
    Since the mid-’50s, de Havilland lived in Paris with her husband, the late French journalist Pierre Galante, far from Hollywood and its cult of celebrity. “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.”
    She and Galante were married from 1955 until his death in 1979. She earlier was married to screenwriter and novelist Marcus Goodrich from 1946 until their divorce in 1953. Survivors include her daughter, Gisele, son-in-law Andrew and niece Deborah.
    She penned a satirical book, Every Frenchman Has One. Published in 1962, it was a wry autobiographical account of her attempts to adapt to French life. In 1965, she became the first female jury president at the Cannes Film Festival.
    In the summer of 2010, de Havilland recorded an introduction that was played at an Academy screening of The Dark Mirror (1946), in which she played twins, one evil and one good. In one of her final public appearances, she attended the Cesar Awards in France in February 2011 and received a standing ovation.
    In the 2004 documentary Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia de Havilland, she explained why she wanted to play Melanie when most everyone else in Hollywood was going after the Scarlett role.
    "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," she said. "I wanted to perpetuate these values. And the perfect way to do that of course would be to play the part of Melanie."
    Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cathedral in Paris.
    Duane Byrge contributed to this report.
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    Elite Member Neptunia's Avatar
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    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/ne..._medium=social

    That article was from the Hollywood Reporter.

    Here's one from Entertainment Weekly that was wonderful as well

    https://ew.com/movies/gone-with-the-...0507000113fdf0

    Her co-stars:

    Vivian Leigh died in 1967

    Clarke Gable died in 1960

    Leslie Howard died in 1941

    She was the last surviving main member of GWTW for 53 years!

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    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Awwww, 104! Wasn't her birthday last month?
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    Quote Originally Posted by HWBL View Post
    Awwww, 104! Wasn't her birthday last month?
    She was able to get in that last birthday on July 1st!
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    A long and good life. RIP!

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    This was taken this month. I'm pretty sure.


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    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprynkles View Post
    This was taken this month. I'm pretty sure.

    No, I posted this earlier, May 26. It was last year, when she was a mere 103.
    Quote Originally Posted by HWBL View Post
    No need to guess this time, but just view in awe: Olivia de Havilland, biking at 103
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    104! Amazing! And she wasn't 104 sitting around doing nothing! Rest in peace.

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    That's three. She was a better actress than her sister, but Joan had a nicer personality.
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    I'm sad but happy she made it till after her birthday. ^^ I didn't know Joan was nicer. Such a lovely, pretty face. Such a fan, I watch her in everything. The Heiress is a favorite.

    After eight films, their last film together was They Died With Their Boots On, Errol played Gen. George Custer. They say goodbye to each other as he goes off to war and she knows he's going to die in the war. Errol plants two kisses on her for their last screen kiss. I felt the tenderness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BITTER View Post
    That's three. She was a better actress than her sister, but Joan had a nicer personality.
    Indeed. My Mom who is a super-fan of this era said she read somewhere that she and Joan patched things up a bit prior to her death, after being estranged for years since Joan was such a bitch. I think Joan lived to be 98 or something crazy, too!
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    And Joan said that she got married, had a family and even won her Oscar before Olivia did. And then, "If I should die before her, she'll be angry about that too...". As the youngest sibling, I can totally relate to her situation.
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    I've been reading a bit about Olivia and Joan's rivalry and wow, these ladies seem to have hated each other since they were kids!


    The Lifelong Feud Between the Sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine
    The rivalry between the actresses encompassed their childhood, careers, love lives, and even the Academy Awards.



    Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine were born 15 months apart (Joan was younger) and both found success as actresses in Hollywood's Golden Age. But instead of bringing them together, these similarities exacerbated a rivalry that sprang up in childhood and lasted a lifetime. Yet even though they were rivals who became estranged, Olivia and Joan managed to respect and even admire each other — in a feud, you always care what the other is up to, of course.


    Olivia and Joan were childhood rivals


    Olivia and Joan didn't get along as children. Joan felt Olivia was favored by their mother and resented losing attention due to the arrival of a younger sibling. Olivia once said, "Our biggest problem was that we had to share a room." Though they did occasionally play together, their clashes were frequent, featuring slaps (Joan) and hair pulling (Olivia). Joan also accused Olivia of tearing up her outgrown clothes because she didn't want them to go to her younger sister, and also of breaking Fontaine's collarbone when she tried to pull her older sister into a swimming pool.


    A profile of the two in LIFE magazine in 1942 revealed one low point in the relationship: "At the age of 9, Joan decided she would kill her sister. She thought it all out carefully: she would let Olivia hit her once, and then again, in silence. But after the third blow, she would plug Olivia between the eyes." Joan's plan was to plead self-defense, but fortunately for American cinema, she didn't go through with it. Instead, the rancor between the two sisters would simply take different forms as they grew older.




    Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine at a party in Saratoga, California circa 1934


    Photo: Getty Images



    Joan initially lived in Olivia's shadow in Hollywood


    When Joan returned home from spending a couple of years with their ex-pat father in Japan, she found her sister on the verge of a career in Hollywood and decided she wanted the same thing. Olivia instead tried to send Joan to finishing school. Olivia later admitted to Vanity Fair, "I suppose the way I saw it then was that I wanted Hollywood as my domain, and I wanted San Francisco society to be hers." But Joan insisted to her older sibling, "I want to do what you're doing."


    So Joan came to live with Olivia and their mother in Hollywood. But Olivia, who was under contract to Warner Brothers, didn't want Joan to work at the same studio as her. And as she believed there was room for only one de Havilland in Hollywood, she encouraged her sister to use a different last name. Joan didn't like this, but when a fortune teller advised her that she needed a stage name ending in "e" to achieve success, she began using Fontaine, her stepfather's name.


    Yet the name change remained a source of bitterness for Joan, who later said, "Joan Fontaine. I don't know who she is." She also hated having to be her sister's chauffeur, driving her to and from the studio, even though Olivia had given Joan somewhere to live in Los Angeles as she tried to launch an acting career.






    The sisters became Hollywood rivals




    While Olivia found success co-starring with Errol Flynn in Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Joan flopped with Fred Astaire in A Damsel in Distress (1937). Joan did manage to marry one of her sister's old boyfriends, tying the knot with Brian Aherne in 1939. At the time a woman getting married was seen as a way of completing her life, so marrying before her older sister was a coup.


    Olivia's career reached new heights when she played Melanie in Gone With the Wind (1939), and Joan's took off when she starred in Rebecca (1940). Still, the sisters didn't let the other taste success without claiming some credit. Joan said that when she'd been turned down for Melanie for being "too stylish," she'd suggested her sister for the part. And when Olivia's Warner Brothers contract kept her from starring in Rebecca, she agreed Joan would be perfect for the role because her sister was blonde and co-star Laurence Olivier had dark hair.


    The sisters' rivalry played out in front of the world at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1942. Olivia and Joan were both nominated for Best Actress, Olivia for Hold Back The Dawn and Joan for Suspicion. Olivia was expected to win, but Joan received the Oscar instead. She then seemed to ignore her sister's congratulations when she went to collect her statuette.


    When Olivia was triumphant herself on Oscar night in 1947, winning the Best Actress Academy Award for To Each His Own, she, in turn, snubbed her sister. But this wasn't exactly payback for Joan's earlier snubbing — instead, it was payback for Joan's sniping. After Olivia had married novelist Marcus Goodrich, Joan had said, "All I know about him is that he’s had four wives and written one book. Too bad it’s not the other way around."




    Joan Fontaine and sister Olivia de Havilland during Marlene Dietrich's Opening Party - September 9, 1967 at Rainbow Room in New York City, NY

    Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage


    Olivia and Joan were estranged when Joan died




    Olivia and Joan had some closer moments in the years to come, such as when they attended a party for Marlene Dietrich in 1967. But when their mother became ill with terminal cancer, Olivia went to take care of her while Joan was on tour with a play. After their mother died in 1975, Joan accused her sister of not helping her see their mother, and of not inviting her to the memorial service (though she did attend).


    In Joan's 1978 memoir, No Bed of Roses (which Olivia dubbed "No Shred of Truth"), she didn't hold back from sharing her resentments toward her sister, such as the "paralysis" that overcame her when she won her Oscar, giving her flashbacks to their childhood animosity. In an interview with People to promote the book, Joan said, "You can divorce your sister as well as your husbands. I don’t see her at all and I don’t intend to." She also declared, "I got married first, got an Academy Award first, had a child first. If I die, she’ll be furious, because again I’ll have got there first!"


    At an Oscars reunion in 1979, the two were placed on separate ends of the stage. Ten years later, Joan changed hotel rooms when she found out she was booked next to Olivia's. But, contrary to what Joan had expected, Olivia expressed her sadness after her sister's death in 2013.


    In an interview for her 100th birthday in 2016, Olivia addressed her relationship with Joan, saying, "A feud implies continuing hostile conduct between two parties. I cannot think of a single instance wherein I initiated hostile behavior." Olivia also stated she had sometimes been "defensive," and added, "On my part, it was always loving, but sometimes estranged and, in the later years, severed."


    BY SARA KETTLER
    From historical figures to present-day celebrities, Sara Kettler loves to write about people who've led fascinating live

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    Elite Member Neptunia's Avatar
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    I love this picture of Olivia

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