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Claim to Fame
Gone With the Wind
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Daughter of actress Lillian Fontaine and older sister of actress Joan Fontaine. Once engaged to James Stewart during the early 1940`s. She starred in a total of nine movies with Errol Flynn. Was very close friends with Ronald Reagan, and Bette Davis.
Olivia de Havilland is the last surviving principal cast member from Gone With the Wind. She played Melanie, the sweet southern belle with a backbone of steel, and de Havilland is reportedly very much like the character she portrayed. De Havilland won two Oscars, for To Each His Own, a 1946 drama in which her character became pregnant out of wedlock, and three years later as The Heiress, in which Montgomery Clift might be pursuing her only for her money. She was also nominated for Hold Back the Dawn, in which Romanian Charles Boyer might be pursuing her to marry his way to US citizenship, for The Snake Pit, where her character was committed to an insane asylum, as well as for Gone With the Wind.
De Havilland got two big breaks in one summer production of A Midsummer Night`s Dream. First, she understudied for Gloria Stuart`s character, Hermia, and in true Hollywood fashion got the role when Stuart had to drop out. Then Warner Brothers decided to film the stage production as a feature, and De Havilland signed a seven year contract with the studio.
Warner Bros. typecast de Havilland as a sweet, innocent damsel in distress, and that became her enduring screen persona. She proved perfect rescue fodder for Errol Flynn, and they made eight films together, including the classics The Adventures of Robin Hood (she was Flynn`s Maid Marian), Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, and They Died with Their Boots On. De Havilland was reportedly infatuated with Flynn, and while she never confirmed an affair, she has said, "He was the one I enjoyed kissing most. When I was working with him, I could hardly wait to get to rehearsal".
Gone With the Wind was, of course, a wildly popular novel before it became the biggest movie of its time. While the film`s producers scoured the nation looking for an actress to play Scarlett O`Hara, de Havilland was one of the few `name` actresses at the time not pleading for the role. Instead she wanted to play Melanie, a supporting role, and she convinced Warner Brothers to "loan her out" to a rival studio for the production. There were problems on the set, and the film went through several directors. One of them, George Cukor, was a gay man known as a "woman`s director" and Clark Gable felt that his character was getting short shrift, so Cukor was fired. Victor Fleming received the sole screen credit as director despite directing only about half of the film, but he simply loathed actresses, leaving de Havilland so fearful that she would sneak off to have Cukor help with her role.
When she returned to Warner Brothers after Gone With the Wind, de Havilland was dismayed that, despite her Oscar nomination, Warners wanted her to resume playing ingenue roles. She begged for more substantial parts, but the studio continued to cast her in light romantic comedies.
When de Havilland was "loaned out" again for the drama Hold Back the Dawn in 1941, she was again Oscar-nominated, but found herself competing with her sister, Joan Fontaine, who had been nominated for Alfred Hitchcock`s Suspicion. The two actresses had been fiercely competitive even as children, and Fontaine, who is one year younger, said that de Havilland never got over having to share their mother with another child. Reportedly Fontaine had not planned to attend the ceremony, until de Havilland persuaded her that she must. The sisters were then seated at the same table, and when Fontaine won the award she ignored de Havilland`s attempt to congratulate her. This fanned their sibling difficulties into a life-long feud.
Following Hold Back the Dawn, de Havilland returned to Warners again, but she began refusing the lightweight parts that the studio wanted her to play. In return, the studio repeatedly placed her on suspension. When her seven-year contract expired, the studio said that she still owed them time from her suspensions, and de Havilland sued. During the three years of the lawsuit, she was unable to work in film, and instead entertained soldiers in the US, the Aleutians, and in the South Pacific. The lawsuit was decided in de Havilland`s favor, breaking what is now called "The de Havilland Clause," and reducing the tight control that studios had over performers.
Triumphantly returning to the screen, de Havilland began to choose her own projects, and had a long string of successes. In 1946, when she won the Oscar for To Each His Own, the Academy arranged for her sister to present the award, and photographers famously caught the moment when de Havilland refused Fontaine`s congratulatory handshake. Some sources say the Fontaine-de Havilland feud was overplayed for the tabloids
Couple Profile Source
Los Gatos High School, Los Gatos, CA (1934)
Full Name at Birth
Olivia Mary De Havilland
Page Display = 2 (Legacy)
Count - Awards
Walter Augustus de Havilland (31 August 1872 – 23 May 1968)
Lillian Augusta Ruse Fontaine (11 June 1886 – 20 February 1975) (She was also an actress)
Joan Fontaine (22 October 1917 − 16 December 2013)
Ronald Reagan, Bette Davis (one of her best friends), Gloria Stuart, Hattie McDaniel, Ida Lupino, Nancy Coleman
The Films of Olivia De Havilland  (Tony Thomas), Olivia de Havilland (A Pyramid Illustrated History of the Movies)  (Judith M. Kass), Every Frenchman Has One  (Olivia de Havilland), Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine  (Charles Higham), The Women of Warner Brothers: The Lives and Careers of Fifteen Leading Ladies  (Daniel Bubbeo)
Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia de Havilland 
My Wicked, Wicked Ways... The Legend of Errol Flynn 
Lana Turner, Dick Powell, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Billy Wilder
Olivia Mary de Havilland (born July 1, 1916) is a British American actress known for her early ingenue roles, as well as her later more substantial roles. Born in Tokyo to British parents, de Havilland and her younger sister, actress Joan Fontaine, moved to California in 1919. She is best known for her performance as Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind (1939), and her eight co-starring roles opposite Errol Flynn, including The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940), and They Died with Their Boots On (1941). She is one of the last living actors/actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
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