When Olivia de Havilland passed on July, 26, 2020, we lost the last true movie star. This Golden Age actress was a queen of Hollywood—and she had all the catty feuds, illicit scandals, iconic roles, and steamy romances to prove it. With a life like this, how could anyone possibly forget the name Olivia de Havilland?
Olivia de Havilland Facts
1. Her Childhood Was Cruel
Olivia de Havilland might have risen to glamour and glory, but her childhood was incredibly tragic. Born on July 1, 1916, de Havilland’s father abandoned the family when Olivia was still a little girl, taking up with his housekeeper instead. In this way, the future star got a taste of heartbreak from a young age, but more was coming.
2. Her Mother Controlled Her
Olivia’s mother Lilian was incredibly strict with both Olivia and her sister Joan. Though men loved the beautiful girls, Lilian made them ask for permission just to leave the house, and demanded that she vet any paramors. Not exactly a stable environment—and as we’ll see, it would nearly destroy the sisters’ relationship by the end of their lives.
3. Her Step-Father Kicked Her out
De Havilland always knew she wanted to be a star, but she had to go to insane lengths to make it. Her stepfather thought acting was disgraceful, and when Olivia got the lead part in a school production, he nastily declared that if she took the role, he’d kick her out of the house. Well, at age 17, the hard-nosed Olivia left home to pursue her destiny. It wouldn’t be her last act of defiance.
4. She Was Feisty
One of Olivia de Havilland’s first starring roles was also her most scandalous. When de Havilland played the feisty Arabella in the 1935 swashbuckling adventure Captain Blood, her co-star was the young Errol Flynn, a dashing bit-part actor who would soon become a major star…and an utterly tormented flame for Olivia.
5. She Liked Bad Boys
De Havilland and Flynn were a huge on-screen pairing in their heydays, but many insisted their relationship was strictly professional. Nothing could be further from the truth. Flynn was one of the original bad boys of Hollywood, and the minute he turned his gaze on the still-teenaged Olivia, she fell in love. It’s just they were doomed to a heartbreaking end.
6. She Had a Secret Admirer
De Havilland hated that she loved Flynn, and for good reason. Not only was he a Hollywood degenerate, he was also married. Always cool-headed and stubborn, she kept her feelings a secret from everyone, including Flynn himself. Yet little did she know, Flynn was falling in love with her the entire time they were making films together. Then, in 1937, it all came to an intense climax.
7. She Had One Steamy Night
On March 12, 1937, Flynn and De Havilland were attending a coronation ball for King George VI of England in Los Angeles at the famed Ambassador Hotel. It couldn’t have been a better setting for the events that unfolded. As they slow danced together in the nightclub, Flynn finally confessed his feelings to the stricken de Havilland. Only he wasn’t prepared for her response.
8. She Made an Excruciating Choice
Though de Havilland claimed she was “deeply affected” by Flynn and that it was “impossible” not to be, she ended their romantic evening with a painful ultimatum. She said Flynn needed to officially divorce from his estranged wife Lili Damita for them to go any further. De Havilland may have nursed a desperate hope…but it wasn’t to be.
9. Her Lover Betrayed Her
Later that year, Errol Flynn dealt the young de Havilland the ultimate betrayal. Instead of breaking things off with his wife to be with her, the slimy player reconciled with Damita and gave things another go. De Havilland must have been devastated, but she had something better around the corner: The greatest role of her life.
10. She Was up for an Iconic Role
In 1938, David O. Selznick was casting for his upcoming epic Gone With the Wind, and he wanted no one but Olivia de Havilland to play the part of Melanie Hamilton. And, unlike the scores of girls who wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara, de Havilland knew in her bones she should be Melanie, too. Well, until her studio completely screwed her over.
11. The Studio Hated Her
Back in Old Hollywood, film studios ran actors’ entire lives, and de Havilland’s contract with Warner Bros was a shackle around her neck. Studio head Jack Warner never got along with her, and he insisted that he wouldn’t lend her out for Selznick’s project, no matter the price. In response, de Havilland had to come up with an ingenious plan.
12. She Knew How to Use People
Instead of trying to convince the vindictive Jack Warner that she belonged in Gone With the Wind, de Havilland didn’t get mad, she got smart. She befriended Warner’s wife Anne and got her to convince Jack. As Warner later admitted, “Olivia, who had a brain like a computer concealed behind those fawn-like eyes, simply went to my wife and they joined forces to change my mind”.
13. The Shoot Was Miserable
The set of Gone With the Wind was legendarily gruelling. The cast sometimes worked 16-hour days, and star Vivien Leigh even overdosed on sleeping pills. Moreover, everyone but de Havilland seemed to think the film was going to be a total flop, and all their nightmarish work schedules would be for nothing. And then it got worse.
14. The Production Was Cursed
Gone With the Wind tore through an incredible three directors before filming, with the first director George Cukor getting sacked suddenly and unceremoniously. De Havilland and Leigh were so upset about the decision, they went up to studio head David O. Selznick’s office in full period costume to beg him to reconsider. He refused…so the women had to go behind his back.
15. She Was Disobedient
Unbeknownst to Selznick, de Havilland and Leigh both continued to meet with Cukor on their weekends off so he could coach them through some of the hardest scenes of the film. Good girls don’t make history, right?
16. She Tricked Clark Gable
During the filming of Gone With the Wind, de Havilland was notorious for her dark sense of humor. In one scene, Rhett Butler carries Melanie out to a carriage. During one of the takes, when Clark Gable tried to pick de Havilland up, she had herself secured to the set without Gable knowing. The heartthrob nearly threw out his back while de Havilland cackled with glee. But it wasn’t all fun and games…
17. She Suffered for Her Art
Known for her thorough researching, de Havilland prepared for her childbirth scene in Gone With the Wind by visiting a maternity ward and interviewing several new mothers on how they got through the experience. She also had her director pinch her toes during filming so that she’d feel genuine pain during her scene. But she also went even further than that.
18. She Got Down and Dirty
De Havilland had good follow-through—and it once got her a bizarre claim to fame. In the first act of Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh was supposed to vomit as Scarlett, but found it too “unladylike” to make retching sounds. Completely unfazed, de Havilland said she’d do it herself. Her sounds are the ones you can still hear on the film.
19. She Upstaged Her Co-Stars
De Havilland’s hard work paid off, and then some. Though many today remember Leigh’s turn as Scarlett, back then all many could do was look at Olivia. Critics called her the “standout” of the film, and the part snagged her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Oscars. De Havilland’s star was on the rise…just as her personal life became very messy.
20. She Had a Heartthrob Boyfriend
De Havilland was someone who fell in love intensely and immediately. In December 1939, heartthrob Jimmy Stewart brought her to the premiere of Gone With the Wind, and the Hollywood power couple started a hot and heavy relationship soon after. But this whirlwind romance didn’t stop de Havilland from breaking Jimmy’s heart into a million little pieces.
21. She Rejected a Proposal
In 1940, Stewart got down on one knee and proposed marriage to de Havilland. At the height of her fame and her career, the 24-year-old coldly refused the doe-eyed Stewart, telling him she just wasn’t ready to settle down into a tame marriage. Well, apparently not: Mere months later, de Havilland proved just how wild she could be.
22. She Started an Illicit Affair
Despite Stewart’s failed proposal, the pair kept trying to make it work. But in 1941, it came to a crashing and scandalous halt. That year, de Havilland started work on the film In This Our Life with the hard-drinking, hard-living director John Huston. With her good boy Jimmy waiting at home, de Havilland fell head over heels for Huston. It did not end well.
23. She Had a Long-Lost Love
Huston was a decade older than de Havilland and very, very married at the time they started their passionate affair. Though the courtship ruined de Havilland’s relationship with Stewart, it also flamed out soon after. Still, the actress never regretted it. Years later, she confessed, “John was a very great love of mine. He was a man I wanted to marry”.
24. She Was “Fat”
When de Havilland first came to Warner Bros. as a young ingénue, the studio thought she was “overweight,” and demanded that she lose weight. Not content with this directive, they also had famed costume designer Edith Head construct a bunch of slimming costumes for their “pudgy” star. Gee, thanks a million, guys.
25. She Had an Infamous Rivalry
De Havilland’s most controversial relationship wasn’t with a man—it was with her younger sister, Joan Fontaine, who also became a famous actress. Ever since they were children, their mother nursed the girls to feud. Lilian apparently used to look at the capable Olivia and the sickly Joan and say, “Livvie can, Joan can’t”. So when Joan rose to stardom, the claws really came out.
26. She Had a Family Feud
Even as a young starlet, Olivia treated Joan cruelly. When Joan wanted to sign on to Warner Bros., mama Lilian told the girl she couldn’t use “Olivia’s studio”—and even forbid her from using her real last name, “De Havilland,” because that was apparently Olivia’s sole property, too. Olivia never made a peep, and the sibling rivalry went from simmering to scalding.
27. Her Boyfriend Was a Creep
In the summer of 1938, de Havilland started dating the Hollywood equivalent of the creepy village bicycle: Howard Hughes. To be fair, Hughes—later infamous for peeing into mason jars—was actually in the “hot years” at this point, and had just flown around the world in a record-setting journey. But then Hughes really outdid himself in the jerk department.
28. Her Sister Dated Her Ex
In 1939, Joan Fontaine got married before her older sister Olivia, which was seen as quite the slight at the time. But that’s not even the worst part. The man she was marrying, actor Brian Aherne, was actually de Havilland’s ex-boyfriend. When de Havilland brought Howard Hughes to the tense rehearsal dinner, then, is it any wonder it all imploded?
29. She Nearly Ruined Her Sister’s Wedding
On the eve of the wedding, de Havilland’s boyfriend Hughes approached Joan and asked the bride-to-be for a dance. Seems reasonable, right? Wrong. While waltzing with Fontaine, Hughes apparently begged Joan not to marry Aherne because he wanted to marry her himself. Disgusted, Joan turned right around and told de Havilland—who didn’t believe her.
30. She Lost the Oscar to Her Frenemy
In 1942, both Olivia and Joan were up for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. When her baby sister Joan won, Olivia must have been bitterly disappointed. Still, she kept it inside and only graciously said, “We’ve got it!” It was all for nothing. Joan rebuffed Olivia’s attempt to congratulate her, leaving de Havilland stung and bitter. Could this get worse? Oh yes.
31. She Gave Her Sister the Silent Treatment
In 1946, de Havilland got even more fuel for her bitterness when Joan talked to a magazine and made several disparaging comments about her sister for all the world to see. To make matters worse, Olivia assumed Joan would come to her senses and send her an apology for her thoughtless words…that apology never came.
32. She Was a Spoiled Brat
Joan Fontaine’s bitterness toward Olivia wasn’t exactly irrational. When they were young girls, Olivia was the spoiled favorite child, and she used and abused that privilege. Before Olivia gave any hand-me-downs to Joan, she would rip up the garments and force Joan to sew back together anything she wanted to wear. Yikes.
33. Her Sister Tried to Take Her Part
According to Joan, de Havilland never would have gotten her famous part in Gone With the Wind if it weren’t for her. Joan claimed that George Cukor actually wanted her for the part of Melanie, but when she came into the audition wearing chic clothes, Cukor “tsked” her and told her she was much too stylish. Then Fontaine made a fatal error.
34. She Wasn’t Supposed to Get Her Most Famous Role
In response to Cukor’s “compliment” that she was too stylish, Fontaine threw some shade at Olivia de Havilland, saying, “Well, what about my sister?” Fontaine later called this her “tremendous mistake”. Cukor pushed her further about de Havilland, Fontaine answered his questions truthfully, and the rest was catty Hollywood history.
35. She Demeaned Her Own Family
When Olivia de Havilland was trying to make it in Hollywood, the young Joan worked as her…chaffeur. De Havilland couldn’t drive, so of course the less-favored Joan was forced to ferry Princess Olivia around Hollywood Boulevard. Seriously, this is one dysfunctional family—and at the 1947 Academy Awards, they really let it all hang out.
36. She Won an Oscar
Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine’s feud had reached epic proportions by the time they both attended the Oscars in 1947. This also just so happened to be the year de Havilland won her first Oscar for To Each His Own, so she was in a triumphant mood when Joan approached her backstage to bury the hatchet. De Havilland’s reply only added fuel to the fire.
37. She Spited Her Sister
When Fontaine held out her hand to congratulate her sister on her win, de Havilland pulled the ultimate “I don’t know her” move and turned away, acting as if Joan wasn’t even there. The cut went so deep, the sisters didn’t utter another single word to each other for five long years. But as we’ll see later, their enmity only grew more tragic as time wore on.
38. John F. Kennedy Had a Crush on Her
De Havilland’s beauty brought her many admirers, but probably no one was as famous or influential as a young John F. Kennedy, who had a whopping crush on the actress. The boy was so smitten, he even once arranged to go to de Havilland’s home and have tea with the star. Only, well, it ended in utter disaster.
39. She Made Men Stupid
Kennedy brought a friend with him for support when he went to see de Havilland, and the American royal was so nervous that de Havilland remembered that, “His friend did most of the talking. He just sat there, those great big eyes staring”. Staring, that is, at her. Not a great way to get a date…and then Kennedy had to go and make it worse.
40. She Embarrassed the Future President
When Kennedy finally got up to leave, he was apparently so flustered that he went out into the hallway and triumphantly opened…de Havilland’s closet door, causing a bunch of her summer hats and tennis rackets to fall on his head in a glorious feat of clumsiness. Thing is, that wasn’t the last de Havilland even saw of Kennedy.
41. She Ghosted Her Lover
Some days after their ill-fated meeting, John Kennedy was at it again, and asked de Havilland out for dinner. Obviously unimpressed with the Kennedy zion, she declined, giving the (pretty lame) excuse that she had to “read her lines”. This was a lie—she was actually going on another date—and it came back to bite her in the worst way.
42. She Was Caught Red-Handed
After brushing Kennedy off, de Havilland went out to a restaurant to meet up with her intellectual Romeo, the much older writer Ludwig Bemelmans. But, as fate would have it, Kennedy was in the restaurant too, and utterly aghast at the sight of her and her lover. He apparently turned to a friend and asked, “Do you think it was me walking into the closet? Do you think that’s what really did it?” Um, yeah buddy, I do.
43. Her First Marriage Was Scandalous
In 1946, de Havilland was finally ready to settle down, and she married cultured, literary man-about-town Marcus Goodrich—yes, she had a type—that August. Yet while Goodrich was her first husband, de Havilland was his…fifth wife. The pair had one child, Benjamin, in 1949, but the good times quickly stopped rolling.
44. Her Relationship Was Dysfunctional
As it turned out, Goodrich had your typical artist’s temperament—that is, he was “unstable,” angry, and tended to take it out on de Havilland. Less than five years after the birth of their child, they had already split up. De Havilland didn’t know it at the time, but she had a much more glamorous man in her future.
45. Her Sister Rubbed Salt in the Wound
De Havilland’s sister Joan must have been overjoyed to hear about Olivia’s divorce, because she had never much liked Marcus. Goodrich was the author of the 1941 novel Delilah, but hadn’t written anything since—and at the outset of the ill-fated marriage, Fontaine had sneered, “It’s too bad that Olivia’s husband has had so many wives and only one book”.
46. She Took a French Lover
In 1955, de Havilland found love again, this time with the debonair Paris Match editor Pierre Galante. After a romance worthy of a Cannes Film Festival movie, the pair settled down in Paris and raised a daughter, Gisele, together. Their relationship was so French, in fact, that even after they split up, Galante just moved across the street.
47. She Had a Famous Falling out
Eventually, even de Havilland and her long-term screen partner Errol Flynn had a falling out. De Havilland was dissatisfied with being cast as “that girl,” and had been taking her frustrations out on Flynn. She only accepted a part in their eighth film together, They Died With Their Boots on, because Flynn demanded it. It would lead to a heartbreaking farewell.
48. Her Art Imitated Her Life
The final scene of With Their Boots on is a farewell between Flynn’s character and de Havilland’s. As she recalled, Flynn was beside himself that day, since “I think he knew it would be the last time we worked together”. It was. And in an ironic twist of fate, one of the last words his character speaks is, “Walking through life with you, ma’am, has been a very gracious thing”.
49. She Got Sloppy Seconds
De Havilland almost didn’t get to play her final role alongside Errol Flynn in With Their Boots On after all. Before Flynn stumped for his friend Olivia, the studio originally offered the part to none other than Joan Fontaine. It was only after Fontaine turned the role down that de Havilland finally got her hand-me-downs.
50. Her Co-Star Deeply Insulted Her
Originally, the studio planned to reunite de Havilland with Flynn for the film The Heiress. However, Montgomery Clift won the part because he was, frankly, a much better actor. But this wasn’t a good thing. Clift was also arrogant about his skills, and constantly degraded de Havilland on set about her own acting chops. Eventually, all this professional turmoil pushed de Havilland to the brink.
51. She Fell Into Depression
De Havilland struggled with her self-image and insecurity around this time. In 1939, she was so tired of studios not taking her seriously that she began to become unreliable, stressed, and difficult to work with. While filming Dodge City, she confessed, “I was in such a depressed state that I could hardly remember my lines”. On the set of one of her next films, though, it reached an intense pitch.
52. She Was Self-Destructive
By the time de Havilland was working on Princess O’Rourke, she was so unhappy that she was suffering from dizzy spells and anxiety, and she turned into a diva overnight. She came to set late, and then would storm off the minute things weren’t going her way. Eventually, she put her foot down and said enough is enough.
53. She Made Diva Demands
De Havilland knew her worth, and she made sure everyone knew it, too. As she grew from ingénue to bona fide star, she started getting sick of all the flimsy parts Warner Bros. was throwing at her, and took the almost unprecedented action of turning down her assigned parts. That? Was a huge faux pas, and her old enemy Jack Warner got a brutal revenge.
54. The Studios Tried to Force Her Hand
First, Warner Bros. slapped de Havilland with several suspensions for each of the parts she turned down, signalling that if she didn’t want to work in the films they chose for her, she wouldn’t work at all. But in 1943, when de Havilland’s contract was over and she thought she was finally free, Jack Warner twisted the knife in.
55. She Challenged Authority
Instead of letting de Havilland go nice and easy, Warner informed her he had tacked on six months to her contract to account for all her naughty suspensions, a tactic that other studios often used. Well, instead of lying down and taking it from Jack Warner and all the other industry players, de Havilland took them to court. What happened next was Hollywood history.
56. She Won a Landmark Victory
In November 1943, de Havilland successfully sued Warner Bros. for unfair practices, and in so doing dealt a crushing blow to the studio system that had reigned since the beginning of the Golden Age. The aftermath of the ruling is still called “De Havilland’s Law” today. Honestly, picture the best mic-drop courtroom moment from Law & Order, and then double that. That was our girl—but she paid so dearly for it.
57. The Studio Got Revenge on Her
There was no way in heck the studios weren’t going to retaliate, and now Jack Warner really had it in for de Havilland. After his embarrassing defeat at the hands of his own starlet, Warner sent a letter to other Hollywood studios defaming de Havilland, which virtually blacklisted her from making movies for the next two years. When she came back on the scene, though, it was with a vengeance.
58. She Went to the Depths of Insanity
When de Havilland starred in The Snake Pit in 1948, she came across her darkest acting challenge yet. The film sees her playing a woman thrown into an asylum against her will, and de Havilland spent hours upon hours visiting mental institutions to understand the part and observe the patients. But the actress went even further than that.
59. She Starved Herself
To properly portray a woman under such inhumane conditions, de Havilland not only dieted intensely to make herself underweight, she also shirked hairdressers throughout her time filming, and refused to wear a bra for her scenes in the asylum, all to give the picture of a woman on the edge. But no amount of prep could help her through the chilling conditions on set.
60. She Underwent Experiments
To film certain scenes in The Snake Pit, the director required de Havilland to go through “hydrotherapy,” where she would sit in freezing cold or piping hot baths, as well as simulated electric shock therapy. At a tiny 5 foot 4, these scenes were incredibly difficult to film, but de Havilland didn’t back down. I mean, when did she ever?
61. She Turned Down an Iconic Part
Even though de Havilland landed iconic roles like Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind and Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood, she didn’t always have the best radar. Just after having her first child, she turned down the legendary role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire because she couldn’t relate to DuBois’ selfish ways.
62. Her Director Taunted Her
With her intelligent eyes, de Havilland was a director’s actress to the bone—but that didn’t mean that every director liked her. When she filmed Noon Wine with Sam Peckinpah, the starlet and head honcho clashed on set, and Peckinpah was particularly dissatisfied with her acting in the tense final sequence of the film. So he came up with a cruel trick.
63. Her Director Lied to Her
After making de Havilland perform the final scene over and over, Peckinpah finally huffily declared a wrap, then confronted de Havilland and cruelly insulted her acting talents. She, naturally, got angry right back at him and launched into a vitriolic rant. Well, that was exactly what Peckinpah wanted. He was secretly recording her the entire time, and used the footage in the finished project.
64. She Went Method
Before Christian Bale made method acting look scary, Olivia de Havilland made it look cool. To play her Oscar-winning part of a cosmetics tycoon in To Each His Own, de Havilland incrementally lowered her voice as her character aged, and wore a different perfume for each period of her character’s life. No wonder she bagged a statuette.
65. She Knew Her Best Angles
De Havilland’s sharp wit and her ambition were obvious even on her first feature film, the 1935 adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. While on set, the teenaged Olivia impressed the camera crew with her questions on lighting and focus, and later used what she’d learned to make sure she was always the best-lit actor in the production, natch.
66. She Got Involved in a Famous Feud
One of de Havilland’s best friends was film icon Bette Davis, which made her firmly on “Team Bette” in Davis’s legendary feud with Joan Crawford. In fact, de Havilland gleefully helped stoke the fires. In 1964, Davis was supposed to star opposite Crawford in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, but Davis ended up elbowing Crawford out and asking her BFF de Havilland to come on board instead. De Havilland was all too happy to accept.
67. She Was Smarter Than People Knew
De Havilland was always the sharpest tool in the shed. When she was a child, she learned to read before she reached the age of six, and her mother often forced her to recite Shakespeare passages with perfect elocution. These hard lessons served her well; at the height of her fame, her distinctive, clear voice was one of her signatures.
68. Her Sibling Rivalry Flared up Again
You’d think that as they grew into dowager stars, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine’s feud would cool, but it only got icy hot, especially as their mother was on her deathbed. The siblings disagreed on how to treat Lilian’s cancer—but when Lilian actually passed in 1975, de Havilland committed an unforgivable act.
69. She Snubbed Her Sister
According to Fontaine, when her mother passed, de Havilland didn’t even bother informing her. In fact, de Havilland had sent word while Fontaine was away touring in a play…but she’d sent a telegram that took two weeks to arrive, at which point it was too late. Yeah, that’s not exactly trying that hard, Olivia. But that wasn’t all.
70. She Didn’t Want Her Sister at the Funeral
Besides not informing her sibling of their mother’s death, Joan claimed that de Havilland didn’t even invite her to the funeral. In a case of soapy she said / she said, de Havilland’s side of the story is even more twisted. She asserted that she did invite Fontaine, but Fontaine just brushed her off. The awkwardness didn’t end there, either.
71. She Acted Like a Child
In 1979, both de Havilland and Fontaine were invited to an Academy Awards celebration of previous Oscar winners, but the two doyennes acted like little school girls the entire time. When all the stars got together for a “class photo,” the siblings insisted on sitting as far apart from each other as possible, and didn’t speak at all. And that was just in public…
72. She Couldn’t Be in the Same Room as Her Sister
When the siblings were yet again invited to another Oscars ceremony a full decade later, their feud was now bitter beyond imagination. Some higher-up had happened to put them in adjacent hotel rooms, so Joan defiantly changed her room and swore she would never go to another ceremony again. Guess what? She never did.
73. She Had a Sweet Nickname
For all that Joan Fontaine and de Havilland fought like cats and dogs, there could be genuine affection between the sisters. It was actually Joan who first called de Havilland “Livvie,” a nickname that stuck for the rest of her life.
74. She Was Funny
De Havilland also never lost her sense of humor. In a 2006 interview, the actress said, “I suppose you’d like to know how actresses of my day differ from actresses of today,” before drawling with a raised eyebrow, “the actresses of today are richer”.
75. Her Sister Abandoned Her
In the end, de Havilland and Joan Fontaine’s Hollywood feud ended in tragedy. On December 15, 2013, Fontaine passed peacefully in her sleep at the age of 96, after once quipping, “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!” Yet de Havilland’s reaction was much different.
76. She Had a Love-Hate Relationship
Instead of using Fontaine’s passing as way to get the last word in, de Havilland issued a rare and heartfelt statement about her sister, saying she was “shocked and saddened” to hear that her family member and fellow star was no longer with us. Of course, de Havilland must have known then that she’d follow her sister soon enough.
77. She Never Stopped Causing Trouble
As de Havilland grew older, she didn’t lose her flair for the dramatic. When Catherine Zeta-Jones portrayed the veteran actress in Ryan Murphy’s Feud, de Havilland—now over a century old—did not take kindly to the portrayal. The 101-year-old woman promptly sued the network for using her likeness. I get it, Livvie, you gotta stay in that news cycle.
78. She Was the Last of Her Kind
On July 26, 2020, de Havilland passed peacefully in her home in her beloved Paris, France of natural causes. The screen legend was an incredible 104 years old, and many consider her passing the end of an era. She was the last true Old Hollywood star from the studio system…and she had one last claim to fame.
79. She Was a True Icon
Before her passing, de Havilland was the last surviving member of Gone With the Wind, even though ironically her character Melanie is one of the only main characters in the enormous cast to perish. The feat wasn’t lost on the actress. In 1999, de Havilland said, “It’s ironic, isn’t it? Melanie dies . . . and I didn’t die. I haven’t, and I don’t intend to”. Hey, 104 freaking years old is about as close as that gets.
80. She Gave Her Sister a Disturbing Gift
Long before she passed, de Havilland wrote up a last will and testament for her sister and rival Joan Fontaine—and she left her a disturbing “gift”. Let’s just say, their feud goes way back. At the tender age of nine, de Havilland scrawled out a “will” to Joan that read, “I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister Joan, since she has none”. OUCH, Olivia.
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