Olivia de Havilland

The golden age of Hollywood produced so many stars we remember and enjoy even today.  Most of those actors and actresses have left us.  But one lovely, talented actress is with us still: Olivia de Havilland.  And on July 1st, she turned 100 years old.

Olivia was born in Japan to English parents.  The family moved to California when she was still very young.  In high school, Olivia acted in plays, but planned on becoming an English teacher.  But fate intervened.  Soon after graduation, she was in an amateur production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  That staging was seen by director Max Reinhardt, and soon she was cast in a professional production and then a film version of the play.

From then on, there was rarely a time Olivia was not on screen.  She most often played the love interest of more established leading men.  Soon she was moving on to more substantial roles.  She might still be the love interest, but the women Olivia portrayed were also strong and capable and determined.  Even her most famous role – Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind – was one of fortitude and courage, while overall kind and loving.  For the role, she won her first Academy Award nomination for Supporting Actress.

During her career, Olivia won two Oscars.  The first was for To Each His Own in 1946.  The second was for The Heiress in 1949.  She was nominated two other times, for Hold Back the Dawn in 1941, and for The Snake Pit in 1948.

Her most remembered films, though, might be the ones she made with Errol Flynn.  Their onscreen chemistry was a joy to watch.  And although there was a romantic interest on both sides, Olivia and Errol never became involved off camera.

Olivia was married twice, though both marriages ended in divorce.  During her second marriage, she moved to France, where she has lived ever since.  Her move inspired her to write an autobiography Every Frenchman Has One.  She retired from acting in 1988 but has continued to make appearances at awards programs and festivals.  In 2008 Olivia received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush.  And in 2011, she appeared at the César Awards in France.

If you’re not familiar with Olivia de Havilland’s work – or if you’d like to see some favorite movies again -- please check out the titles below.  You’ll find an actress renowned for her intelligence, grace, charm, beauty, and amazing acting.

Gone with the Wind
Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
The Snake Pit (1948)
The Heiress (1949)
The Proud Rebel (1958)
Hush-Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
Murder is Easy (1982)

Films with Errol Flynn


Captain Blood (1935)
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)
The Adventures of Robin Hood  (1938)
Dodge City (1939)
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
They Died with Their Boots On (1941)




Flickr: CC          : Olivia de Havilland          Photo by Isabel Santos Pilot