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Olivia de Havilland

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Title: Olivia de Havilland  
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Subject: Bette Davis, Academy Award for Best Actress, Joan Fontaine, Helen Mirren, New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Collection: 1916 Births, 20Th-Century American Actresses, 20Th-Century English Actresses, Actresses from the San Francisco Bay Area, Actresses from Tokyo, American Anti-Communists, American Expatriates in France, American Film Actresses, American People of Guernsey Descent, American Radio Actresses, Best Actress Academy Award Winners, Best Drama Actress Golden Globe (Film) Winners, Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe (Television) Winners, California Democrats, Chevaliers of the Légion D'Honneur, De Havilland, English Emigrants to the United States, English Expatriates in France, English Film Actresses, English Radio Actresses, Living People, Paramount Pictures Contract Players, United States National Medal of Arts Recipients, Volpi Cup Winners, Warner Bros. Contract Players, Western (Genre) Film Actresses
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Olivia de Havilland

Olivia de Havilland
Studio publicity portrait about 1945
Born Olivia Mary de Havilland
(1916-07-01) July 1, 1916
Tokyo, Japan
Residence Paris, France
Occupation Actress
Years active 1935–2009
  • Marcus Goodrich (m. 1946; div. 1953)
  • Pierre Galante (m. 1955; div. 1979)
  • Benjamin Goodrich (1949–91)
  • Gisèle Galante (b. 1956)
Relatives Joan Fontaine (sister, 1917–2013)

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.[1] Born in Tokyo to English parents, de Havilland and her younger sister, actress Joan Fontaine, moved to California in 1919. She performed as Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind (1939) and in eight co-starring roles opposite Errol Flynn, including Captain Blood (1935), 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. At the age of 99, she is the oldest living actor who has won an Academy Award, and she is the last surviving major actor from the film Gone with the Wind.

De Havilland won the

External links

  • Beeman, Marsha Lynn. .Joan Fontaine: A Bio-Bibliography Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994. ISBN 978-0-31328-409-0.
  • Billingsley, Lloyd. Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0-7615-1376-6.
  • Brown, Gene. Movie Time: A Chronology of Hollywood and the Movie Industry from Its Beginnings to the Present. New York: Macmillan, 1995. ISBN 0-02-860429-6.
  • De Havilland, Olivia. Every Frenchman Has One. New York: Random House, 1962. ASIN B000WVH9GK.
  • Fishgall, James. Pieces of Time: The Life of James Stewart. New York: Scribners, 1997. ISBN 978-0-68482-454-3.
  • Fontaine, Joan. No Bed of Roses: An Autobiography. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1978. ISBN 978-0-68803-344-6.
  • Freedland, Michael. The Warner Brothers. Edinburgh: Chambers, 1983. ISBN 978-0-24553-827-8.
  • Gottfried, Martin.Nobody's Fool: The Lives of Danny Kaye. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. ISBN 978-0-74324-476-3.
  • Higham, Charles. Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Haviland and Joan Fontaine. New York: Coward McCann, 1984. ISBN 978-0-69811-268-1.
  • Lamparski, Richard. Manhattan Diary. Duncan, Oklahoma: BearManor Media, 2006. ISBN 978-1-59393-054-7.
  • Shipman, David. The Great Movie Stars, The Golden Years. New York: Bonanza Books, 1970. ISBN 978-0-31678-487-0.
  • Thomas, Tony. The Films of Olivia de Havilland. New York: Citadel Press, 1983. ISBN 978-0-80650-988-4.
  • Thomson, David. .The New Biographical Dictionary of Film New York: Knopf, 2010. ISBN 978-0-30727-174-7.
  • Wallis, Hal B. and Charles Higham. Starmaker: The Autobiography of Hal Wallis. London: MacMillan Publishers, 1980. ISBN 0-02-623170-0.


  1. ^ "Olivia de Havilland". Encyclopedia Britannica retrieved February 15, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Awards for Olivia de Havilland". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved: February 14, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Thomas 1983, p. 20.
  4. ^"Olivia Mary de Havilland at ; retrieved February 15, 2013.
  5. ^ Olivia de Havilland profile at; retrieved February 15, 2013.
  6. ^ a b French, Philip. "Screen Legends No.73". The Observer, Review Section, 2009.
  7. ^ Beeman 1994, p. 24.
  8. ^ Thomson 2010, p. 339.
  9. ^ a b c Thomas 1983, p. 22.
  10. ^ Thomas 1983, p. 23.
  11. ^ Thomas 1983, p. 24.
  12. ^ Cornwell, Rupert. "Sibling rivalry: Hollywood's oldest feud." The Independent, May 15, 2008. Retrieved: March 6, 2013.
  13. ^ Thomas 1983, p. 25.
  14. ^ "Biography." Olivia de Havilland. Retrieved: March 6, 2013.
  15. ^ a b c d Thomas 1983, p. 26.
  16. ^ a b c Thomas 1983, p. 27.
  17. ^ a b c Thomas 1983, p. 28.
  18. ^ a b Brown 1995, p. 125.
  19. ^ Wallis and Higham 1990, p. 86.
  20. ^ a b Thomas 1983, p. 29.
  21. ^ a b c Thomas 1983, p. 30.
  22. ^ Thomas 1983, p. 32.
  23. ^ "Results 1939 (12th) Academy Awards." Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved: March 6, 2013.
  24. ^ a b c Thomas 1983, p. 33.
  25. ^ Thomas 1983, p. 153.
  26. ^ Thomas 1983, p. 34.
  27. ^ Freedland 1983, p. 172.
  28. ^ Thomas 1983, p. 35.
  29. ^ a b c Thomas 1983, p. 36.
  30. ^ Belloni, Matthew. "De Havilland lawsuit resonates through Hollywood". Reuters, August 23, 2007. Retrieved: March 9, 2013.
  31. ^ Shipman 1970, p. 153.
  32. ^ Shipman 1970, p. 151.
  33. ^ "Olivia de Havilland a Citizen." The New York Times, November 29, 1941. Retrieved: March 9, 2013.
  34. ^ "Olivia de Havilland Fast Facts". CNN. Retrieved: March 9, 2013.
  35. ^ a b c d e f Meroney, John. "Olivia de Havilland is Setting the Record Straight", The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2006.
  36. ^ Billingsley 1998, pp. 123–124.
  37. ^ Gottfried 2002, p. 146.
  38. ^ " 'Streetcar wins film critics' nod; Voted 'The Best of the Year' by motion pictures critics." The New York Times, December 28, 1951; retrieved November 8, 2011.
  39. ^ Itzkoff, Dave. "Arts Medals Awarded." The New York Times, November 18, 2008; retrieved November 8, 2011.
  40. ^ Andrews, Emily. "Errol Flynn? He never had his wicked way with me". Daily Mail, 17 June 2009; retrieved May 26, 2013.
  41. ^ "Olivia de Havilland Biography." Turner Classic Movies; retrieved May 26, 2013.
  42. ^ a b Fishgall 1997, pp. 137–139.
  43. ^ Fishgall 1997, p. 148.
  44. ^ El orgullo de la seducción: Emilio Fernández
  45. ^ Honan, William H. "Marcus Aurelius Goodrich, 93, Writer Known for Naval Stories." The New York Times, October 22, 1991; retrieved June 18, 2012.
  46. ^ "Olivia de Havilland: Biography". Reel Classics. Retrieved October 20, 2014. 
  47. ^ Eyre, Hermione. "Hollywood's sweetheart: Olivia de Havilland", London Evening Standard, March 19, 2010; retrieved March 6, 2013.
  48. ^ "Centennial Tribute to Bette Davis". Thew Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; retrieved September 1, 2013.
  49. ^ a b c Higham 1984, p. 257.
  50. ^ Fontaine, Joan (1978). No Bed of Roses: An Autobiography. New York: William Morrow and Company. p. 136.  
  51. ^ Ron Galella. "Marlene Dietrich's Opening Party - September 9, 1967". Getty Images. 
  52. ^ "Joan Fontaine-Olivia de Havilland Feud: New Details Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  53. ^ "RetroBites: Joan Fontaine - Sisters (1979)" on YouTube, 2 December 2010.
  54. ^ "Joan Fontaine profile in". The Washington Post. December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  55. ^ "Olivia de Havilland "shocked and saddened" by sister Joan Fontaine's death". December 16, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  56. ^ "President and Mrs. Bush Attend Presentation of the 2008 National Medals of Arts." The White House Archives, November 17, 2008. Retrieved: March 7, 2013.
  57. ^ "Documentary Screening: 'I Remember Better When I Paint'." New York Daily News. October 28, 2009. Retrieved: September 1, 2013.
  58. ^ "New York Social Diary." New York Social Diary. Retrieved: September 13, 2010.
  59. ^ Kniffel, Leonard."Film Legend Makes Memories at American Library in Paris." American Libraries, March 23, 2011. Retrieved: March 6, 2013.
  60. ^ Corbet, Sylvie. "Olivia de Havilland honored by French president." HighBeam Research, September 9, 2010. Retrieved: March 6, 2013.
  61. ^ Foster, Jodie. "Jodie Foster Opening Speech Cesars 2011." on YouTube, 2011. Retrieved: March 6, 2013.
  62. ^ "The Last Star: An evening with Olivia de Havilland". Entertainment Weekly's 
  63. ^ "Golden girl: The divine Olivia de Havilland." The Independent, July 14, 2009; retrieved October 17, 2009.
  64. ^ "Those Were The Days". Nostalgia Digest 39 (2): 32–39. Spring 2013. 
  65. ^ "Academy Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. November 2, 1946. p. 19. Retrieved September 29, 2015 – via  


  1. ^ Olivia was named after the character in Twelfth Night.
  2. ^ An acting award at Los Gatos is named after Olivia de Havilland.
  3. ^ Initially, de Havilland refused to take the part of Princess Maria in Princess O'Rourke and, subsequently, was suspended by Jack Warner.[27]



Year Program Episode/source
1937 Lux Radio Theatre Captain Blood[64]
1946 Academy Award Cheers for Miss Bishop[65]

Radio appearances

Year Title Role Notes
1966 Noon Wine Ellie Thompson ABC Stage 67
1972 The Screaming Woman Laura Wynant
1979 Roots: The Next Generations Mrs. Warner Miniseries
1981 The Love Boat Aunt Hilly Season 4, episode 23
1982 Murder Is Easy Honoria Waynflete Credited as Olivia De Havilland
1982 Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, TheThe Royal Romance of Charles and Diana Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
1986 North and South II Mrs. Neal Miniseries
1986 Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna Dowager Empress Maria
1988 The Woman He Loved Aunt Bessie

Television work

Year Title Role Notes
1935 Dream Comes True, AA Dream Comes True Herself (uncredited) About the making of A Midsummer Night's Dream
1936 Making of a Great Motion Picture, TheThe Making of a Great Motion Picture Herself (uncredited) About the making of Anthony Adverse
1937 Day at Santa Anita, AA Day at Santa Anita Herself (uncredited) Stars attended a horse race at the famed racetrack
1937 Screen Snapshots Series 16, No. 10 Herself Stars and their pets attend a swim meet
1943 Show Business at War Herself Newsreel about progress of the Hollywood war effort

Short subjects

Year Title Role Notes
1935 Alibi Ike Dolly Stevens
Irish in Us, TheThe Irish in Us Lucille Jackson
Midsummer Night's Dream, AA Midsummer Night's Dream Hermia, in Love with Lysander Credited as Olivia de Haviland (film debut)[18]
Captain Blood Arabella Bishop
1936 Anthony Adverse Angela Giuseppe
Charge of the Light Brigade, TheThe Charge of the Light Brigade Elsa Campbell Credited as Olivia De Havilland
1937 Call It a Day Catherine 'Cath' Hilton
It's Love I'm After Marcia West
Great Garrick, TheThe Great Garrick Germaine de la Corbe
1938 Gold Is Where You Find It Serena 'Sprat' Ferris
Adventures of Robin Hood, TheThe Adventures of Robin Hood Lady Marian Fitzwalter
Four's a Crowd Lorri Dillingwell
Hard to Get Margaret Richards Credited as Olivia De Havilland
1939 Wings of the Navy Irene Dale
Dodge City Abbie Irving
Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, TheThe Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex Lady Penelope Gray
Gone with the Wind Melanie Hamilton Wilkes Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Raffles Gwen Manders
1940 My Love Came Back Amelia Cornell
Santa Fe Trail Kit Carson Holliday
1941 Strawberry Blonde, TheThe Strawberry Blonde Amy Lind Grimes
Hold Back the Dawn Emmy Brown New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
They Died with Their Boots On Elizabeth Bacon Custer
1942 Male Animal, TheThe Male Animal Ellen Turner
In This Our Life Roy Timberlake
1943 Thank Your Lucky Stars Herself
Princess O'Rourke Princess Maria – aka Mary Williams Credited as Olivia DeHavilland
1943 Government Girl Elizabeth 'Smokey' Allard
1946 To Each His Own Miss Josephine 'Jody' Norris Won - Academy Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
Devotion Charlotte Brontë
Well-Groomed Bride, TheThe Well-Groomed Bride Margie Dawson
Dark Mirror, TheThe Dark Mirror Terry Collins / Ruth Collins
1948 Snake Pit, TheThe Snake Pit Virginia Stuart Cunningham
1949 Heiress, TheThe Heiress Catherine Sloper
1952 My Cousin Rachel Rachel Sangalletti Ashley Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1955 That Lady Ana de Mendoza
Not as a Stranger Kristina Hedvigson
1956 The Ambassador's Daughter Joan Fisk
1958 Proud Rebel, TheThe Proud Rebel Linnett Moore
1959 Libel Lady Margaret Loddon
1962 Light in the Piazza Meg Johnson
1964 Lady in a Cage Mrs. Cornelia Hilyard
Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte Miriam Deering Credited as Olivia deHavilland
1970 Adventurers, TheThe Adventurers Deborah Hadley Credited as Olivia De Havilland
1972 Pope Joan Mother Superior
1977 Airport '77 Emily Livingston
1978 Swarm, TheThe Swarm Maureen Schuster Credited as Olivia De Havilland
1979 Fifth Musketeer, TheThe Fifth Musketeer Queen (Mary) Mother
2009 I Remember Better When I Paint Narrator



In 1960, de Havilland published her first memoir, Every Frenchman Has One. According to John Lichfield, she was working on an autobiography and had hoped to have a first draft by September 2009.[63]


  • 1940 Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Gone with the Wind)
  • 1941 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (Hold Back the Dawn) 2nd Place
  • 1942 Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hold Back the Dawn)
  • 1946 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (To Each His Own) 2nd Place
  • 1947 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (To Each His Own) Won
  • 1948 National Board of Review Award for Best Actress (The Snake Pit) Won
  • 1948 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (The Snake Pit) Won
  • 1949 Academy Award Nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role (The Snake Pit)
  • 1949 Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actress (The Snake Pit) Won
  • 1949 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (The Heiress) Won
  • 1950 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role (The Heiress) Won
  • 1950 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress (The Heiress) Won
  • 1950 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon for Best Foreign Actress (The Snake Pit) Won
  • 1952 handprint and footprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre
  • 1953 Golden Globe Award Nomination for Best Motion Picture Actress, Drama (My Cousin Rachel)
  • 1960 Star on the Walk of Fame for Motion Picture at 6762 Hollywood Blvd (February 8, 1960)
  • 1987 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna) Won
  • 1987 Primetime Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries (Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna)
  • 2008 National Medal of Arts, presented by the President of the United States
  • 2010 Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, awarded by the President of the French Republic[2]
Star on the Walk of Fame for Motion Picture, at 6762 Hollywood Blvd.

Honors and awards

In February 2011, de Havilland appeared at the César Awards in France. The president of the ceremony, Jodie Foster, introduced her, and de Havilland received a standing ovation.[61] In an interview from January 2015, De Havilland stated that she is working on her autobiography.[62]

On September 9, 2010, de Havilland was appointed a chevalier (or knight) of the Légion d'honneur, the highest decoration in France, awarded by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who told the 94-year-old actress, "You honor France for having chosen us."[60]

In 2009, de Havilland narrated the documentary I Remember Better When I Paint,[57] a film about the importance of art in the treatment of Alzheimer's.[58] On March 22, 2011, she presented the film at a special screening in Paris.[59]

On November 17, 2008, at the age of 92, de Havilland received the Shakespeare's Hermia to Margaret Mitchell's Melanie. Her independence, integrity, and grace won creative freedom for herself and her fellow film actors."[56]

According to her book, de Havilland has been living in Paris since 1960. In recent years, she has made only rare public appearances. In 2003, she appeared as a presenter at the 75th Annual Academy Awards, receiving a four-minute-long standing ovation upon her entrance. In June 2006, she made appearances at tributes for her 90th birthday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2004, Turner Classic Movies produced a retrospective piece called Melanie Remembers in which de Havilland was interviewed for the 65th anniversary of the original release of Gone with the Wind. The film's only two other surviving cast members are supporting actors Mickey Kuhn and Patrick Curtis. De Havilland remembered details of her casting and filming. The 40-minute documentary is included in the film's four-disc special collector's edition.

Olivia de Havilland receiving the National Medal of Arts from President Bush, 2008

De Havilland today

The sibling feud ended with Fontaine's death in December 2013. Determined to have the last word on the matter, Fontaine once noted, "I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she'll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!"[54] Following her sister's death, de Havilland released a statement saying she was "shocked and saddened" by the news.[55]

The final break between the sisters occurred in 1975. According to Fontaine, they stopped speaking because of a disagreement over their mother's cancer treatment. While de Havilland wanted their mother to be treated surgically, Fontaine opposed surgery due to their mother's advanced age. Fontaine also claimed that after their mother died, de Havilland did not make an effort to notify Fontaine, who was touring with a play at the time. Instead, de Havilland sent a telegram, which did not reach her sister until two weeks later at Fontaine's next engagement.[53]

Contrary to press reports, the sisters continued their relationship after the 1940s. After Fontaine's separation from her husband in 1952, de Havilland came to her apartment in New York often, and at least once spent Christmas together there, in 1961. They were photographed laughing together at a party for Marlene Dietrich in 1967.[51] Joan also went to visit Olivia in Paris in 1969.[52]

De Havilland and Fontaine were both nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942. Fontaine won that year for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion over de Havilland's performance in Hold Back the Dawn. According to Higham, as Fontaine stepped forward to receive her award, she pointedly rejected de Havilland's attempts at congratulating her, and that de Havilland was both offended and embarrassed by her behavior. Their relationship was further strained when Fontaine made negative comments to an interviewer about de Havilland's husband. Fontaine, however, tells a different story in her autobiography, explaining that she was paralyzed with surprise when she won the Academy Award, and that de Havilland insisted she get up to accept it. "Olivia took the situation very graciously," Fontaine wrote. "I was appalled that I'd won over my sister."[50] Several years later, when de Havilland stepped up to accept her Academy Award for Best Actress, she brushed past Fontaine, who was waiting with her hand extended.[49] The relationship between the sisters continued to deteriorate, and may have caused the estrangement between Fontaine and her own daughters, who secretly maintained a relationship with de Havilland.[49] For years, both sisters refused to comment publicly about their relationship.

Joan Fontaine and Gary Cooper at the Academy Awards, 1942

Olivia de Havilland and her sister, Joan Fontaine, are the only siblings to have won lead acting Academy Awards. Of the two sisters, de Havilland was the first to become an actress. When Fontaine tried to follow her lead, their mother, who allegedly favoured de Havilland, refused to let her use the family name professionally. According to biographer Charles Higham, the sisters always had an uneasy relationship, starting in early childhood when de Havilland would rip up the clothes Fontaine had to wear as hand-me-downs, forcing Fontaine to sew them back together. A large part of the resentment between the sisters allegedly stemmed from Fontaine's belief that de Havilland was their mother's favorite child.[49]

Sibling rivalry

De Havilland was lifelong best friends with Bette Davis with whom she starred in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), It's Love I'm After (1937), and In This Our Life (1942). She remained a close friend of actress Gloria Stuart until Stuart's death in 2010, at the age of 100. In April 2008, she attended the Los Angeles funeral of Charlton Heston. In 2008, she was a surprise guest at the centennial tribute to Bette Davis.[48]

Close friendships

On April 2, 1955, de Havilland married Pierre Galante, a journalist and editor of Paris Match. They had one child, Gisèle Galante, who was born on July 18, 1956. Her marriage to Galante prompted de Havilland to move to Paris. She recounted her adjustments to Parisian life in her memoir, Every Frenchman Has One. The couple separated in 1962, but did not divorce until 1979.[47]

Olivia de Havilland was married twice. On January 24, 1946, she married Marcus Goodrich, a Navy veteran, author, and screenwriter. They had one child, Benjamin Goodrich, who was born on December 1, 1949. The marriage ended in divorce in 1952. Their son Benjamin died on October 1, 1991 (aged 41) of Hodgkin's lymphoma, three weeks before the death of his father.[45][46]


The Mexican film director Emilio Fernandez was deeply in love with de Havilland, whom he never met. Fernandez asked the then president of Mexico Miguel Aleman to prolong a street in Coyoacán, in Mexico City to his mansion to then name it Sweet Olivia.[44]

In another interview, however, de Havilland claimed she knew the crush was reciprocal and stated that Flynn proposed, though de Havilland turned down the proposal as Flynn was still married to actress Lili Damita at the time.[41] From December 1939 to March 1942, she was romantically involved with single actor James Stewart. At the request of Irene Mayer Selznick, the actor's agent asked Stewart to escort de Havilland to the New York premiere of Gone with the Wind at the Astor Theater on December 19, 1939. Over the next few days, Stewart took her to the theater several times and to the 21 Club.[42] They continued to see each other back in Los Angeles, where Stewart provided occasional flying lessons and romance. According to de Havilland, Stewart in fact proposed marriage to her in 1940, but she felt that he was not ready to settle down.[42] Their relationship was interrupted by Stewart's military enlistment in March 1941, but would continue on and off until March 1942, when de Havilland fell in love with director John Huston.[43]

He never guessed I had a crush on him. And it didn't get better either. In fact, I read in something that he wrote that he was in love with me when we made The Charge of the Light Brigade the next year, in 1936. I was amazed to read that, for it never occurred to me that he was smitten with me, too, even though we did all those pictures together.[40]

Although known as one of Hollywood's most exciting on-screen couples—having appeared in eight films together—de Havilland and Errol Flynn were never linked romantically. The eight films in which they co-starred are Captain Blood (1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood and Four's a Crowd (1938), Dodge City and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940) and They Died with Their Boots On (1941). Of her feelings for her co-star, de Havilland once observed:

Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938


Personal life

She continued acting on film until the late 1970s, afterward continuing her career on television until the late 1980s, highlighted by her Golden Globe win and Emmy Award nomination for her performance as the Dowager Empress Maria in the 1986 miniseries Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. In 2008, she was awarded the United States National Medal of Arts.[39]

Of her few film appearances in the 1960s, chiefly notable are de Havilland's role in Lady in a Cage (1964) as a crippled widow trapped in a lift and terrorised by intruders, Robert Aldrich's Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and Sam Peckinpah's TV film of Katherine Anne Porter's novella Noon Wine (1966). In 1965, de Havilland was the first woman to preside over a Cannes jury. She was the subject of This Is Your Life in April, 1964 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in central London.

In the 1950s, de Havilland made fewer films in order to raise her two children. She declined the role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, later explaining: "I had just given birth to my son. That was a transforming experience, and when the script was presented to me, I couldn't relate to it."[35] The role went to her Gone with the Wind co-star, Vivien Leigh, who won her second Academy Award for her performance.[38] During the decade, de Havilland starred in six films, including My Cousin Rachel (1952), with Richard Burton, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination, That Lady (1955), Not as a Stranger (1955) with Robert Mitchum and Frank Sinatra, The Ambassador's Daughter (1956) with John Forsythe, The Proud Rebel (1958), and Libel (1959) with Dirk Bogarde.

Olivia de Havilland and Rossano Brazzi in Light in the Piazza, 1962

After becoming a Ronald Reagan, whose political trajectory after 1952 would be far more dramatic.[35] Despite galvanising Hollywood resistance to Soviet influence, de Havilland was denounced that same year—along with Danny Kaye, Fredric March, and Edward G. Robinson—as a "swimming-pool pink" in Time magazine for her involvement in the committee.[37] In 1958, she was secretly called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and recounted her experiences with the Independent Citizens' Committee.[35]

Following the release of Devotion—a highly fictionalized biography of the Brontë sisters filmed in 1943 but withheld from release during the suspension and litigation—de Havilland signed a three picture deal with Paramount Pictures. The quality and variety of her roles began to improve. In his review of The Dark Mirror (1946), James Agee noted the change, writing that although she had always been "one of the prettiest women in movies", her recent performances had proven her acting ability. He also noted that while not possessing "any remarkable talent", her performances are "thoughtful, quiet, detailed, and well sustained". Agee concluded that her acting is "founded, as some more talented playing is not, in an unusually healthful-seeming and likable temperament, it is an undivided pleasure to see".[32] De Havilland received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performances in To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949), and was also widely praised for her Academy Award–nominated performance in The Snake Pit (1948), one of the earliest films to attempt a realistic portrayal of mental illness and an "historically important Hollywood exposé of the grim conditions in state mental hospitals".[6] De Havilland was lauded for her willingness to play a role that was completely devoid of glamour and that confronted such controversial subject matter. She won the New York Film Critics Award for both The Snake Pit and The Heiress.

After fulfilling her seven-year Warner Bros. contract with The Male Animal (1942), In This Our Life (1942), Government Girl (1944), and Devotion (1946), her last Warner Bros. film completed in 1943 and released in 1946, de Havilland was informed that six months had been added to her contract for times she had been on suspension.[28] The law then allowed studios to suspend contract players for rejecting a role, and the period of suspension could be added to the contract period. Most contract players accepted this, but a few tried to change the system, including Bette Davis who mounted an unsuccessful lawsuit against Warner Bros. in the 1930s. In August 1943, on the advice of her lawyer, de Havilland took Warner Bros. to court and was supported by the Screen Actors Guild. The Supreme Court of California ruled in her favor (case #487, 685).[29] The decision was one of the most significant and far-reaching legal rulings in Hollywood, reducing the power of the studios and extending greater creative freedom to performers. California's resulting "seven-year rule", also known as Labor Code Section 2855, is still known today as the De Havilland Law.[30] Her legal victory won de Havilland the respect and admiration of her peers, among them her own sister Joan Fontaine, who later commented, "Hollywood owes Olivia a great deal".[31] Warner Bros. reacted to the decision by circulating a letter to other studios that had the effect of a "virtual blacklisting".[29] As a consequence, de Havilland did not work in a film studio for two years.[29]

Studio publicity portrait for Santa Fe Trail, 1940

Following the critical acclaim she received for her performance in Gone with the Wind, de Havilland sought more serious and challenging roles, but was not supported in her efforts by Warner Bros. After receiving third billing in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, she was loaned out to Samuel Goldwyn for the crime drama Raffles (1939), and then assigned to the light musical comedy My Love Came Back (1940).[24] Throughout the early 1940s, de Havilland was becoming increasingly frustrated by the roles assigned to her, which she felt were unchallenging and insubstantial.[24][25] Feeling she had proven herself capable of playing more than the demure ingénues and damsels in distress that were typecasting her, she began to reject scripts that offered her this type of role and actively sought out better roles. She concluded her long series of popular films with Errol Flynn with Santa Fe Trail (1940) and They Died with Their Boots On (1941), which contained some of their most telling scenes together.[24] Other highlights from this period include The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney, Hold Back the Dawn (1941) with Charles Boyer for which she received fine reviews, and Princess O'Rourke (1943), which she considered one of the few truly satisfying characters she played for Warner Bros.[26][Note 3] In 1942, de Havilland received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in Hold Back the Dawn.

Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn in Santa Fe Trail, 1940

[23] for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.Academy Award She was nominated for an [22]'s wife Ann was instrumental in de Havilland getting the part.Jack L. Warner Ultimately, [21] Throughout the late 1930s, de Havilland appeared in a variety of light romantic comedy films, including

Studio publicity portrait for Gone With the Wind, 1939

Olivia de Havilland made her screen debut in Max Reinhardt's film A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was released in October 1935, following the release of her second and third films, Alibi Ike with Joe E. Brown and The Irish in Us with James Cagney, respectively.[17][18] All three films received mixed reviews and disappointing public response.[17] At this point, Warner Bros. made a decision that would have a profound impact on her career, pairing her with an unknown Tasmanian actor named Errol Flynn in Captain Blood (1935). The casting of de Havilland was due to producer Hal B. Wallis wanting to showcase his "protege".[19] The popular success of the film, as well as the critical response to the on-screen couple,[20] led to seven additional collaborations, including The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Dodge City (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940), and They Died with Their Boots On (1941).[20]

Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938


After graduating high school in 1934, de Havilland was offered the role of Puck in the Saratoga Community Theater production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.[15] That summer, Austrian director Max Reinhardt came to California for a major new production of the same play at the Hollywood Bowl. After one of Reinhardt's assistants saw Olivia perform in the Saratoga production, he offered her the understudy position for the role of Hermia.[16] One week before the premiere, the actress playing Hermia left to take a part in a film, and de Havilland took her place. After receiving positive reviews, she went on to play Hermia through the entire engagement, as well as the four-week tour that followed.[16] During the tour, Reinhardt received word that he would direct the Warner Bros. film version of his stage production, and he offered de Havilland the film role of Hermia. Wanting to become an English teacher,[16] she was going to matriculate at Mills College with a scholarship in the fall but Reinhardt persuaded her to accept. Soon after, the 18-year-old actress signed a seven-year contract with Warner Bros.[17]

De Havilland was educated at Saratoga Grammar School, the Notre Dame High School in Belmont, and Los Gatos High School.[13][14][Note 2] In high school, she excelled in oratory and field hockey and participated in the school drama club.[15] In 1933, she made her debut in amateur theatre in the lead role in Alice in Wonderland, a production of the Saratoga Community Players based on the work of Lewis Carroll.[15] She would later remember:

[12] Although she left the acting profession, Lillian taught her daughters to appreciate the arts, reading

De Havilland's parents married in 1914, but the marriage was not a happy one due to her father's infidelities.[9] Her younger sister, Joan de Havilland (later known as actress Joan Fontaine), was born on October 22, 1917. In February 1919, Lillian persuaded her husband to take the family back to England to a climate better suited for their ailing daughters.[9] The family stopped in California to treat Olivia's bronchial condition and high temperature. After Joan developed pneumonia, Lillian decided to remain with her daughters in California, where they settled in the village of Saratoga, about 50 miles (80 km) south of San Francisco. Her father abandoned the family and returned to his Japanese housekeeper, who would eventually become his second wife.[9] Her parents' divorce was not finalized until February 1925.[10]

Olivia de Havilland in the stage play Alice in Wonderland, 1933

Olivia de Havilland was born on July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan, to parents from the United Kingdom. Her father, Walter Augustus de Havilland (August 31, 1872 – May 23, 1968), was educated at the University of Cambridge and served as an English professor at the Imperial University in Tokyo before becoming a patent attorney with a practice in Japan.[3] Her mother, Lilian Augusta (née Ruse; June 11, 1886 – February 20, 1975),[4][5] was educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and became a stage actress who left her career after going to Tokyo with her husband.[3] Her mother would return to work with the stage name Lillian Fontaine after her daughters achieved fame in the 1940s. Olivia's paternal cousin was Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882–1965), an aircraft designer, notably of the De Havilland Mosquito,[6] and founder of the aircraft company which bore his name. Her paternal grandfather, the Reverend Charles Richard de Havilland, was from a family from Guernsey, in the Channel Islands.[7][8]

Early life


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
    • Relationships 3.1
    • Marriages 3.2
    • Close friendships 3.3
    • Sibling rivalry 3.4
  • De Havilland today 4
  • Honors and awards 5
  • Writings 6
  • Filmography 7
    • Features 7.1
    • Short subjects 7.2
    • Television work 7.3
  • Radio appearances 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


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