Award winning actress Olivia de Havilland died of natural causes on July 26, 2020 in her Paris, France home just three weeks after her 104th birthday. She has lived in Paris since 1953.
She was among the last surviving actors from the lead cast of “Gone with the Wind”.
In a career that spanned six decades, she appeared in some 60 productions appearing in films opposite Erol Flynn, Montgomery Cliff, Mickey Rooney, and Sir Ralph Richardson.
She made her Broadway debut in 1951 as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet”. Her other Broadway roles are “Candida”, and “A Gift of Time”.
De Havilland made her Hollywood screen debut in 1935 as Dolly Stevens in “Alibi Ike”. She went on to appear in dozens of productions including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, “Gone with the Wind”, “The Ambassador’s Daughter”, “Hush..Hush, Sweet Charlotte”, an uncredited role on “The Big Valley”, “Airport ‘77”, “Roots: The Next Generation”, “The Love Boat”, “North and South, Book II”, and her final role in 1988 in “The Woman He Loved”.
As herself, de Havilland has appeared in documentaries, award shows, talk shows, and game shows.
Along with her two Academy Awards, de Havilland has been awarded a Golden Globe award, the National Medal of Arts and a Legion of Honor from France. In 2017, she was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and holds the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
During the early years of Hollywood, stars were contracted to studios, not films like today. In 1943, de Havilland took the studio to court when they tried to keep her under contract after it had expired. The California Court of Appeals ruled that the studio could not extend a contract without the actor’s permission. The law carries her name.
She was born Olivia Mary de Havilland on July 1, 1916 in Tokyo, Japan the daughter of a patent attorney. Her parents split up when Olivia was only three years old; her mother took the girls to America and California. She began acting while at Mills College. Despite suffering from stage fright, she had wanted to be a stage actress.
Predeceased by her sister Joan Fontaine, mother Lillian Fontaine, and son Benjamin; de Havilland is survived by her daughter Gisele Galante Chulack, son-in-law Andrew Chulack, and niece Deborah Dozier Potter.
feature photo credit: By Scotty Welbourne (1907-1979) – eBay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82381305