Olivia de Havilland- the last great star of Old Hollywood, died at 105 years old! The path that this extraordinary woman has taken was difficult and thorny. In the life of the actress there was everything: dramas, romance, unearthly happiness and a broken heart to smithereens. Olivia was destined to outlive not only all her colleagues in the legendary film, according to which the whole world knows her, but also all her relatives …
Olivia de Havilland became famous for her role as Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind (1939) based on the novel of the same name by Margaret Mitchell. Her dark brown eyes and unsurpassed smile allowed the actress to play the heroines, whose soft, humble kind disposition opposes the evil heart of the negative hero.
Olivia's father, Professor Walter Havilland, went from academic to lawyer. The future star was born in 1916 in Tokyo. Lillian's mother was also an actress. In 1919, the family settled in California, although they had to return to their homeland, England. Walter then left and returned to Japan, where he married a housekeeper. So, at the most tender age, Olivia had to get acquainted with what is the betrayal of the closest person.
Olivia has shown outstanding acting skills since childhood. But first I was preparing for a career as an English teacher. By chance, she attracted the attention of director Max Reinhardt, who eventually directed her in his film A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935). It was de Havilland's debut on the big screen. She played alongside Jean Muir, James Cagney, Mickey Rooney and other great actors.
The painting was released by Warner Bros. As was the custom at the time, they signed a seven-year contract with de Havilland. Many actors then felt constrained by the old studio system, their lives being ruled by studio management at all levels.
Olivia was squeezed into the framework of the same type of heroines with one-dimensional characters. Such roles, of course, did not promise any creative growth and special success. And then luck smiled at her: de Havilland got the role of Melanie Hamilton in "Gone with the Wind." For her stunning work, which was praised by both audiences and critics alike, Olivia was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1940, during a historic trial, Olivia was freed from the studio. True, Warner Bros. They wanted to make her work for another six months, citing the fact that her career as an actress was simple. To which Olivia reasonably objected that the contract was for seven years, and not for the actual time spent on work.
Olivia de Havilland's victory over the big bosses inspired other actors to fight to get rid of the actual slavery of the studio. Until now, this judicial precedent is called the "de Havilland decision".
Olivia set sail for free. Of course, this did not save her from further disappointments in life, but she was free, and that was the main thing. In 1946, Olivia married the writer Markus Goodrich and gave birth to his child. In parallel, at the same time, Olivia signs a contract with Paramount Pictures for three films. Indeed, now the quality of the roles offered to her has improved significantly and the actress was able to reveal her talent in diverse characters.
The resounding success in his film career was accompanied by a huge disappointment in his personal life. The husband did not want to do anything and lived off the fees of his famous wife. The sister openly and mercilessly mocked Olivia. In 1953, de Havilland lost her patience, divorced him and was left alone. Throughout her life, her younger sister, Joan Fontaine, has been stepping on her heels. She was only a year younger than Olivia and also made a career as an actress. The real reasons for the enmity are rather vague, but to Olivia's credit, it must be said that she never responded to Joan's attacks, but behaved like a true lady.
Joan Fontaine's press statements, meanwhile, were not very sisterly. She said that Olivia supposedly envies her, because Joan is always and everywhere the first: the first one got married, the first one gave birth to a child and the first one won an Oscar. “If I suddenly die, she will be furious, because I will be the first again!” - said Fontaine. Olivia remained coldly silent. Since 1975, communication between the sisters has ceased altogether.
In 1955, Olivia regains hope for happiness - she marries Pierre Galante, the executive editor of Paris Match. This marriage lasted nearly a quarter of a century. The couple raised a daughter. De Havilland continued to be successful in his career. Although she decided to leave the cinema and moved to live in France. In 1965, she became the first woman in the history of the Cannes Film Festival to lead a jury. The actress had many bright and memorable roles.
In 1988, she starred in The Woman He Loved, her last acting job. Olivia is very disappointed with the cinema and declares that the "golden" era of Hollywood is long over and now it is just a commercial conveyor.
Olivia's second marriage was much more successful than the first. After the divorce, they even remained best friends. De Havilland even took care of him during his severe and prolonged illness. She had to survive his death. Olivia had mourned her deceased son shortly before.
Olivia de Havilland is without a doubt a strong and courageous woman that nothing can break. Not so long ago, photographs of her were published in the press, where she rides a bicycle. By this she wanted to show that she was not going to stop at all.
In 2008, Olivia received the National Medal of Arts, and in 2010 - the Order of the Legion of Honor. In 2017, Queen Elizabeth gave the actress the title and she became a Lady not only in spirit. De Havilland is the oldest person to receive the title from the British Queen.
The headlines of the newspapers are still full of the name of the famous actress: a couple of years ago, she tried to get through the court to remove the biographical film about herself from the screening. She didn't like how she was portrayed there. There, the role of Olivia was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Ultimately, the picture came out unsuccessful. Recently, Gone With the Wind was declared an offensive and discriminatory film in connection with the protests in the United States.
Ten years ago, she was almost persuaded to participate in the film project The Aspern Papers, which was produced by James Ivory, but then the project was abandoned and it was only released in 2018. Recall that in June, streaming service HBO Max removed the movie "Gone with the Wind" from the platform due to controversial issues related to racial issues, amid protests over the death of black George Floyd as a result of police arrest.
What is the real reason for the enmity between the sisters, you can read in our other article about Olivia de Havilland sworn sisters: why the two stars of the golden age of Holiwood were at odds.