An incredibly sad weekend filled with many incredible losses has taken another Hollywood legend, as veteran actress Olivia de Havilland has reportedly passed away. Perhaps best known for her role as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in Gone with the Wind, Havilland was the last surviving star of the iconic movie. A legend of the screen with dozens of acclaimed credits to her name, de Havilland was also one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood Cinema and was one of the most popular leading actresses of her era.
Olivia Mary de Havilland was born in Tokyo on July 1, 1916. She was the older sister of actress Joan Fontaine, who was born to the family the following year. Citizens of the United Kingdom by birthwright, the girls relocated with their mother to California in 1919. Starting with ballet as a child, de Havilland later began performing on stage in amateur theater and high school plays as a teenager. While still in high school, de Havilland moved out of the family home and in with a friend when her stepfather told her to choose between staying at home or appearing in a school production of Pride and Prejudice. She continued to act on stage when she attended Mills College in Oakland, initially pursuing dreams of becoming an English teacher.
After getting noticed by the right people while performing in plays, de Havilland was working in movies by 1935 when she appeared in A Midsummer Night's Dream. After appearing in movies like Anthony Adverse and Captain Blood, de Havilland was given top billing when she appeared in the Archie Mayo comedy movie Call It a Day in 1937. She followed this up with an acclaimed performance in the comedy It's Love I'm After alongside Leslie Howard and Bette Davis. De Havilland would continue to get roles in movies like Hard to Get, Dodge City, and Wings of the Navy.
In 1939, de Havilland took on her most well known role when she was cast as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. As a fan of the novel, de Havilland had interest in playing the character in the movie adaptation, and producer David O. Selznick was keen on casting her in the movie. Although she was under contract to Jack Warner, de Havilland had managed to get an exception to do the movie by asking Warner's wife. With de Havilland getting the role, the movie was released to theaters in December of that year, establishing itself quickly as one of the best movies of all time. The acclaim also included ten Academy Award wins, including Best Picture, along with a Best Supporting Actress nomination for de Havilland.
Following Gone with the Wind, de Havilland picked up Academy Award wins for Best Actress for To Each His Own and The Heiress. She was also nominated for her roles in Hold Back the Dawn and The Snake Pit. For her work on Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, she was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1960, she was commemorated with her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Reportedly, de Havilland died at her home in Paris due to natural causes. She was 104 years old. Her survivors include her daughter, Gisele, son-in-law Andrew, and niece Deborah. Our condolences go out to them at this time. May she rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Hollywood Reporter.