Olivia de Havilland, Hollywood legend, dies at 104

Olivia de Havilland, the doe-eyed actress beloved to thousands and thousands as the sainted Melanie Wilkes of “Gone With the Wind,” but also a two-time Oscar winner and an off-monitor fighter who challenged and unchained Hollywood’s agreement technique, died Sunday at her house in Paris. She was 104.

Havilland, the sister of fellow Oscar winner Joan Fontaine, died peacefully of purely natural leads to, claimed New York-based mostly publicist Lisa Goldberg.

De Havilland was amid the previous of the prime monitor performers from the studio era, and the previous surviving lead from “Gone With the Wind,” an irony, she at the time mentioned, considering that the fragile, self-sacrificing Wilkes was the only main character to die in the movie. The 1939 epic, centered on Margaret Mitchell’s ideal-offering Civil War novel and winner of 10 Academy Awards, is frequently ranked as Hollywood’s box place of work winner (altering for inflation), while it is now greatly condemned for its glorified portrait of slavery and antebellum life.

The pinnacle of producer David O. Selznick’s profession, the movie experienced a troubled off-screen story.

3 administrators labored on the film, stars Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable were being much far more connected on screen than off and the fourth featured performer, Leslie Howard, was brazenly indifferent to the part of Ashley Wilkes, Melanie’s partner. But de Havilland remembered the movie as “one of the happiest activities I have ever experienced in my everyday living. It was carrying out something I desired to do, playing a character I cherished and appreciated.”

Through a vocation that spanned six many years, de Havilland also took on roles ranging from an unwed mother to a psychiatric inmate in “The Snake Pit,” a individual favourite. The dark-haired De Havilland projected both equally a gentle, glowing heat and a sense of resilience and mischief that made her uncommonly attractive, foremost critic James Agee to confess he was “vulnerable to Olivia de Havilland in every single part of my staying other than the ulnar nerve.”

She was Errol Flynn’s co-star in a sequence of dramas, Westerns and period of time pieces, most memorably as Maid Marian in “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” But De Havilland also was a prototype for an actress too stunning for her have fantastic, typecast in sweet and intimate roles while desiring larger troubles.

Her irritation eventually led her to sue Warner Bros. in 1943 when the studio tried to maintain her underneath contract soon after it had expired, claiming she owed 6 extra months for the reason that she had been suspended for refusing roles. Her good friend Bette Davis was among individuals who experienced unsuccessful to get out of her deal beneath similar disorders in the 1930s, but de Havilland prevailed, with the California Court of Appeals ruling that no studio could increase an settlement without the performer’s consent.

The decision is still unofficially known as the “De Havilland regulation.”

De Havilland went on to get paid her very own Academy Award in 1946 for her effectiveness in “To Each His Individual,” a melodrama about out-of-wedlock delivery. A next Oscar arrived a few many years later for “The Heiress,” in which she portrayed a basic young homebody (as basic as it was attainable to make de Havilland) opposite Montgomery Clift and Sir Ralph Richardson in an adaptation of Henry James’ “Washington Square.”

In 2008, de Havilland acquired a Countrywide Medal of Arts and was awarded France’s Legion of Honor two years later.

She was also popular, not usually for the superior, as the sister of Fontaine, with whom she had a troubled partnership. In a 2016 interview, de Havilland referred to her late sister as a “dragon lady” and said her memories of Fontaine, who died in 2013, were “multi-faceted, various from endearing to alienating.”

“On my portion, it was normally loving, but occasionally estranged and, in the later on yrs, severed,” she reported. &#8220Dragon Girl, as I finally made a decision to phone her, was a outstanding, multi-talented individual, but with an astigmatism in her notion of people today and events, which typically caused her to respond in an unfair and even injurious way.”

De Havilland the moment observed that Melanie Wilkes’ pleasure was sustained by a loving, secure spouse and children, a blessing that eluded the actress even in childhood.

She was born in Tokyo on July 1, 1916, the daughter of a British patent legal professional. Her mother and father separated when she was 3, and her mom brought her and her younger sister Joan to Saratoga, California. De Havilland’s own two marriages, to Marcus Goodrich and Pierre Galante, finished in divorce.

De Havilland had lived in Paris because the early 1950s, reported Goldberg, the publicist who announced her death.

De Havilland’s acting ambitions dated back to stage undertaking at Mills University in Oakland, California. Although planning for a university creation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” she went to Hollywood to see Max Reinhardt’s rehearsals of the exact comedy. She was asked to examine for Hermia’s understudy, stayed with the production by means of her summer months holiday and was presented the role in the drop.

Warner Bros. desired stage actors for their lavish 1935 creation and selected de Havilland to co-star with Mickey Rooney, who performed Puck.

“I wished to be a stage actress,” she recalled. “Life kind of made the determination for me.”

She signed a 5-yr agreement with the studio and went on to make “Captain Blood,” “Dodge City” and other films with Flynn, a hopeless womanizer even by Hollywood benchmarks.

“Oh, Errol experienced these magnetism! There was no one who did what he did superior than he did,” explained de Havilland, whose bond with the dashing actor remained, she would insist, improbably platonic. As she after explained, “We ended up lovers alongside one another so generally on the screen that people could not take that almost nothing had occurred concerning us.”

She did day Howard Hughes and James Stewart and experienced an rigorous affair in the early ’40s with director John Huston. Their relationship led to conflict with Davis, her co-star for the Huston-directed “In This Our Life” Davis would complain that de Havilland, a supporting actress in the film, was getting more flattering time on camera.

De Havilland allegedly never ever bought along with Fontaine, a feud magnified by the 1941 Oscar race that put her from her sister for ideal actress honors. Fontaine was nominated for the Hitchcock thriller “Suspicion” when de Havilland was cited for “Hold Back again the Dawn,&#8221 a drama co-prepared by Billy Wilder and starring de Havilland as a college instructor wooed by the unscrupulous Charles Boyer.

Asked by a gossip columnist if they at any time fought, de Havilland responded, “Of course, we struggle. What two sisters do not battle?”

Like a fantastic Warner Bros. soap opera, their relationship was a juicy narrative of intended slights and snubs, from de Havilland reportedly refusing to congratulate Fontaine for winning the Oscar to Fontaine producing a chopping crack about de Havilland’s weak alternative of agents and husbands.

While she at the time filmed as quite a few as a few photographs a calendar year, her profession slowed in middle age. She designed a number of flicks for tv, which includes “Roots” and “Charles and Diana,” in which she portrayed the Queen Mother. She also co-starred with Davis in the macabre camp traditional “Hush &#8230 Hush, Sweet Charlotte” and was menaced by a young James Caan in the 1964 chiller “Lady in a Cage,” condemning her tormentor as “one of the lots of bits of offal manufactured by the welfare point out.”

In 2009, she narrated a documentary about Alzheimer’s, “I Try to remember Better When I Paint.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones performed de Havilland in the 2017 Fx miniseries about Davis and Joan Crawford, but de Havilland objected to becoming portrayed as a gossip and sued Forex. The situation was dismissed.

Inspite of her serious stage fright, she did summer inventory in Westport, Connecticut, and Easthampton, New York. Moviemaking, she explained, manufactured a distinctive sort of anxiousness: “The very first working day of making a film I really feel, `Why did I at any time get mixed up in this profession? I have no expertise this time they’ll locate out.’”

She is survived by her daughter, Gisele Galante Chulack, her son-in-regulation Andrew Chulack and her niece Deborah Dozier Potter.

Goldberg explained funeral arrangements are personal and that memorial contributions need to go to the American Cathedral in Paris.


Italie reported from New York. AP Paris correspondent John Leicester in Paris and previous AP Author Dolores Barclay in New York contributed to this report.

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