August 02, 2020
Olivia de Havilland's career spanned more than 50 years, but her personal life was just as exciting as her on-screen personas. Learn about the Golden Age Hollywood star who just left us.
After decades of living a Hollywood life, Olivia de Havilland passed away at age 104 due to natural causes. She left behind a daughter, a niece, and a grandniece.
De Havilland was best known for her role in 1939's "Gone with the Wind," but other moments left a mark in her long life. They include a rivalry with her sister, her Oscar wins, and more.
HAVILLAND CAN THANK SHAKESPEARE FOR LANDING IN HOLLYWOOD
De Havilland's fame would not have happened if not for the brilliant Shakespeare. The actress was performing in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" play when she was discovered.
Director Max Reinhardt saw her at the Saratoga Theater and brought her over for the play's 1935 film adaptation. De Havilland received roaring reviews and was pushed forward in Hollywood.
Joan Fontaine during 48th Golden Apple Awards at Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on December 11, 1988. | Photo: Getty Images.
HER TWO OSCARS WERE NOT FROM HER FAMOUS MOVIE
Although de Havilland made a name for herself with "Gone With the Wind," she did not win after being nominated for the film. Instead, she was nominated and won in 1946 for "To Each His Own."
She won the award for Best Actress. She received another award in 1949 for her performance in "The Heiress." De Havilland was also nominated for the award for "Hold Back The Dawn."
HER ORIGINS WERE FAR FROM HOLLYWOOD
De Havilland was not born in America, as some might think. She was born in Tokyo, Japan, to two British parents. Her father was Walter de Havilland, a teacher, and patent lawyer.
Her mother, Lillian Ruse, was the first actress in the family. She was also a choir music teacher. De Havilland grew up in Northern California and first performed in a community showing of "Alice in Wonderland."
HER SISTER WAS HER BIGGEST RIVAL IN THE INDUSTRY
De Havilland had one sister, Joan Fontaine, who was also an actress. The pair were born 15 months apart, with de Havilland being the older of the two. They were competitors from a young age.
Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine during Marlene Dietrich's Opening Party on September 9, 1967 at Rainbow Room in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images
They would vie for their parents' affection, complain about how their beds were shared, and de Havilland once wrote a letter for school saying her sister was not beautiful.
Fontaine and de Havilland's feud was a public matter that gossip columns welcomed with open arms. The two would continuously try to get the same roles.
Fontaine once allegedly threw shade at de Havilland's husband, Marcus Goodrich. Additionally, Fontaine won the Best Actress Oscar award in 1941 for the film, "Suspicion," over her sister, who was also nominated.
Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland smile at each other as they attend an event at the Hollywood Canteen, Los Angeles, California on January 1,1940. | Photo: Getty Images.
SHE MADE EIGHT FILMS WITH ERROL FLYNN
De Havilland's success was helped by her regular collaboration with fellow actor, Errol Flynn. The pair's chemistry was undeniable and made America love them both.
They starred in eight films, including "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "Four's A Crowd," "They Died With Their Boots On," "Dodge City," "Sante Fe Trail," and "The Adventures of Robin Hood."
Actress Olivia de Havilland at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' tribute to Ms. de Havilland at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images
SHE CHANGED LAWS IN HOLLYWOOD
De Havilland did not stand for unfair employment practices when she was working in Hollywood. In 1943, when she wanted to leave Warner Bros., the company pointed to the contract to make her stay.
The actress took things to the Supreme Court of California and won her case. In doing so, a new law restricting contracts to seven calendar service years was created. The law still stands today.