Hollywood icon Olivia de Havilland dies at 104

“Gone with the Wind’ star Hollywood actress Olivia de Havilland is no more. The two-time Oscar winner died peacefully in her sleep. She was 104 and she died of natural causes at home in Paris where she had been residing for over 60 years, her publicist Lisa Goldberg announced.

“A two-time Best Actress Oscar winner, Olivia de Havilland was a mainstay of Hollywood’s Golden Age and an immeasurable talent. Here’s to a true legend of our industry,” said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Japan-born British-American actress had an active career in films for over five decades from 1935 to 1988, during which time she appeared in 49 feature films. She was considered one of the leading stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Her mother was the late English actress Lilian Fontaine and her sister, late Joan Fontaine, was also a major Hollywood star of the era and an Oscar winner.

De Havilland rose to stardom featuring opposite Hollywood action superstar of the era, Errol Flynn, in several swashbuckling hits of the 1930s. Her most prominent roles in that early phase were in “Captain Blood” (1935) and “The Adventures Of Robin Hood” (1938). In all, De Havilland worked with Flynn in around eight big films, and the duo became the most saleable on-screen pair of their time.

Over the years, she would go on to carve her space as a versatile artiste, beyond just playing Lady Marian to Flynn’s Robin Hood. She made her mark in genres as varied as historicals (“The Charge Of The Light Brigade”; 1936), rom-coms (“Hard To Get”; 1938), Westerns (“Santa Fe Trail; 1940”), film noir (“My Cousin Rachel”; 1952), and psychological horror (“Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte; 1964).

Her most notable roles were in films of the drama genre, such as “In This Our Life” (1942), “The Snake Pit” (1948), and “Light In The Piazza” (1962).

Beyond courting fame as an artiste, De Havilland also hit the headlines when she took on the mighty Warner Bros. in a legal battle over a contract that the studio tried to extend, in a bid to intimidate her when she refused certain roles. The court had ultimately ruled in her favor.

De Havilland won her first Oscar as Best Actress for the 1946 romantic drama, “To Each His Own”, where she played a young mother who gives birth to a child out of wedlock but has to give it up.

Image courtesy of Academy of Motion Picture

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