Olivia de Havilland, thought to be the last remaining icon from the Golden Age of Hollywood, has died peacefully in Paris at the age of 104.
De Havilland had an extraordinary acting career, much of it lived in the midst of a long-running feud with her equally talented sister, Joan Fontaine. She won Best Actress Oscars in 1946 for To Each His Own and then again in 1949, for The Heiress. Those two movies along with the classic Gone With the Wind were, unsurprisingly, her favourite films.
She was often typecast as the demure debutante, but there was far more steel in the young woman born in Japan to British parents than might immediately have been apparent. Tired of increasingly two-dimensional roles, she refused certain roles in breach of her contract with Warner Brothers, so at the end of the contract Jack Warner added six months to the contract.
De Havilland sued Warner Brothers and after a legal battle lasted more than a year she won a landmark ruling.
Star Trek legend William Shatner simply said: “Not a good weekend: the great Olivia de Havilland has passed”.
Not a good weekend: the great Olivia de Havilland has passed
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) July 26, 2020
Friends actress Morgan Fairchild tweeted that she had the amazing fortune of sitting between her and Robert Mitchum at an event: “What stories! A lovely lady and a great actress,” she said.
So sorry to lose #oliviadehavilland (here w my great friend Roddy McDowall) We attended the same events many times. I was once seated between her and Robert Mitchum. What stories! A lovely lady and great actress. Always so gracious! #RIPOliviadeHavilland???? pic.twitter.com/wdvwEcFwnf
— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) July 26, 2020
British film-maker and critic Mark Cousins posted what was very much a fan’s tribute, saying he recalled when Albert Hitchcock died he remembered wanting to watch one of his films that night, “but there was no streaming, no DVD and we didn’t yet have a VHS player”.
He continued: “Tonight I can stream #OliviadeHavilland movies (14 one Amazon Prime, none on Netflix) if I want to, and I do.”
When Alfred Hitchcock died,I was 14. I remember wanting to watch one of his films that night, but there was no streaming, no DVD, and we didn't yet have a VHS player.
Tonight I can stream #OliviaDeHavilland movies (14 on Amazon Prime, none on Netflix) if I want to, and I do.
— mark cousins (@markcousinsfilm) July 26, 2020
The Academy paid tribute to a “true legend of our industry”, “an immeasurable talent” and a “mainstay of Hollywood’s Golden Age”.
“To Each His Own,” “The Heiress,” “Gone with the Wind” and so many others. A two-time Best Actress Oscar winner, Olivia de Havilland was a mainstay of Hollywood’s Golden Age and an immeasurable talent. Here's to a true legend of our industry. pic.twitter.com/VYMMNknh4v
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) July 26, 2020
The writer Howard Sherman described her as “the last great figure of classic Hollywood”.
The last great figure of classic Hollywood, Olivia de Havilland, has passed. https://t.co/l2rX5yji6K
— Howard Sherman (@HESherman) July 26, 2020
Variety quoted her former lawyer, who said: “Last night, the world lost an international treasure and I lost a dear friend and beloved client”.
Olivia de Havilland died at age 104, her former lawyer confirmed to Variety: "Last night, the world lost an international treasure, and I lost a dear friend and beloved client. She died peacefully in Paris" https://t.co/Wio2qZmOIG pic.twitter.com/21lAObStJC
— Variety (@Variety) July 26, 2020
At the height of her fame in the 1950s, de Havilland turned her back on Hollywood and moved to Paris to live with her new husband Pierre Galante, a writer. She only sporadically returned to acting.
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