RIP Olivia de Havilland, 104!

Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving leading lady of Hollywood’s Golden Age, five-time Oscar nominated actress and Broadway veteran who helped  take down Hollywood’s studio system with a landmark legal victory in the 1940s, died Sunday. She was 104 (!) (Obituary)


From TCM:
Olivia de Havilland (July 1, 1916, Tokyo-
-July 25, 2020, Paris) first became known for her roles as demure ingénues opposite cinema’s most popular male stars. The older sister and professional contemporary of actress Joan Fontaine, de Havilland began her career as a contract star for Warner Bros. Pictures in 1935. Her breakout film, the swashbuckling adventure “Captain Blood” (1936) opposite Errol Flynn, was the first entry in one of filmdom’s greatest romantic onscreen pairings. She appeared with Flynn in seven more features, including “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938) and made history the following year with her role as the noble Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, best friend of flawed heroine Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) in the timeless classic “Gone with the Wind” (1939). Behind the scenes, a rumored sibling rivalry between her and Fontaine was the subject of Hollywood gossip for decades. The actress won her first Academy Award for her starring role in the melodrama “To Each His Own” (1946). Embracing flawed, unglamorous characters, de Havilland garnered acclaim for her work in “The Snake Pit” (1948) and picked up a second Oscar with “The Heiress” (1949). By the 1950s, de Havilland’s film output decreased substantially, with her appearance opposite fellow icon Bette Davis in “Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte” (1964) being one of her more notable late-career efforts. A true luminary of the silver screen, de Havilland would always be remembered for the elegance and grace she possessed both on and off camera.

Her three Broadway shows:

Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” (Mar 10, 1951 – Apr 21, 1951)
Candida in “Candida” (Apr 22 – May 17, 1952) (A minister’s wife becomes an object of infatuation for an idealistic young poet, in George Bernard Shaw’s comedic look at the changing views on gender and social equality.)
Lael Tucker Wertenbaker in Garson Kanin’s “A Gift of Time” (Feb 22 – May 12, 1962), opposite Henry Fonda. (A man who has been diagnosed with cancer decides to live his remaining days as fully as he can rather than protract his illness in bed.)

“When I was five, I discovered a secret box that contained Mummy’s stage makeup. It was like finding buried treasure. I tried the rouge, the eye shadow, the lipstick. But I couldn’t get the rouge off. Mummy spanked me terribly.”

“I would prefer to live forever in perfect health, but if I must at some time leave this life, I would like to do so ensconced on a chaise longue, perfumed, wearing a velvet robe and pearl earrings, with a flute of champagne beside me and having just discovered the answer to the last problem in a British cryptic crossword.”

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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