Olivia de Havilland stated in her later years that she felt like “a survivor” from “an age that folks now not perceive”.
The actress was a shining star of 30s and 40s Hollywood, working with the likes of Clark Gable and Errol Flynn.
And along with her dying on Saturday, aged 104, our final dwelling hyperlink to that golden age of Tinseltown was gone. Her consultant summed it up by saying: “The world misplaced a world treasure.”
Olivia, a two-time Oscar winner and star of 49 movies, was the final surviving star of the Gone With The Wind solid.
She was a recluse in her closing years however by no means gave up the glamour, dwelling as much as the tip in a Parisian resort suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower, consuming bubbly.
She as soon as stated: “If I have to go away this life, I wish to accomplish that ensconced on a chaise longue, perfumed, sporting a velvet gown and pearl earrings, with a flute of champagne beside me.”
As tributes flooded in, the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, stated: “Olivia de Havilland was a mainstay of Hollywood’s Golden Age and an immeasurable expertise. Right here’s to a real legend of our trade.”
Her Hollywood break got here at 18 in a stage model of A Midsummer Evening’s Dream, when Warner Brothers approached her to reprise the position of Hermia in a movie model in 1935.
She was successful and a yr later appeared reverse Errol Flynn for the primary time, in pirate swashbuckler Captain Blood.
After The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938, she cemented her stardom in Gone With the Wind in 1939 – taking part in Melanie Hamilton, the gorgeous foil to Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara.
The hit roles saved coming however she discovered herself stifled by the trade. Aged 27, feeling typecast, she started to reject presents from Warner Bros.
She was suspended, which means her seven-year contract was lengthened. She risked her profession by taking the studio to court docket in 1943 – and received. The victory ended the tight grip studios had on stars and the legislation handed after her case is named De Havilland’s Regulation.
Nonetheless, as her profession bloomed, so did a bitter rivalry along with her sister, actress Joan Fontaine. Their sibling spats would come to outline Olivia’s life story nearly as a lot as her glittering CV.
Olivia was born in Tokyo on July 1, 1916, to British mother and father Lilian and Walter. That they had Joan in 1917, transferring to California in 1919. When Lilian and Walter cut up she wed George Fontaine.
Ex-theatre actress Lilian taught the ladies drama, music and elocution – and Olivia shortly excelled. However the sisters’ relationship was rocky from a younger age, rooted in rivalry for Lilian’s consideration.
A 1942 profile of the sisters in Life revealed a disturbing anecdote: “At 9, Joan determined she would kill her sister. She would plug Olivia between the eyes.”
Fuelling the feud, Lilian insisted Joan take her stepfather’s surname and method a distinct movie studio.
The primary of Olivia’s 5 Oscar nominations got here in 1942, for Finest Actress in Maintain Again The Daybreak.
Nevertheless it was Joan who received one of many coveted statuettes first. Her profession soared after Rebecca in 1940 and in 1942 she received Finest Actress for Suspicion. She was caught on digicam showing to disregard Olivia’s congratulations earlier than happening stage.
Later, in memoir No Mattress Of Roses – which Olivia dubbed No Shred of Reality – Joan stated of the second: “All of the animosity we’d felt as youngsters … got here speeding again in kaleidoscopic imagery.”
When Olivia then received her Finest Actress Oscar for To Every His Personal in 1947, she snubbed Joan again. She received her second Oscar, for The Heiress, in 1949.
In the meantime, her love life made for the stuff of films. Rumoured to have spurned JFK, she dated tycoon Howard Hughes, actor James Stewart and director John Houston.
She cut up with Stewart when he enlisted within the Second World Battle. When he returned, he took the a part of George Bailey in It’s A Fantastic Life and Olivia was supplied the position of his spouse – however declined it.
She stated: “It will be awkward to work with him due to our many months collectively in a form of highschool pre-war romance, which got here to an finish.”
Nevertheless it was her chemistry with Errol Flynn that brought about a stir. They starred collectively seven occasions and Olivia later admitted she fell for him – however insisted they by no means acted on their emotions as Flynn was married.
She as soon as stated: “Sure, we did fall in love and I imagine that is evident within the display chemistry. However his circumstances prevented going additional.”
Olivia married twice – first in 1946, at 30, to writer Marcus Goodrich, who she later divorced. That they had son Benjamin, who died of a coronary heart assault at 41. In 1953, Olivia met French journal editor Pierre Galante in Cannes. They wed and, at 40, she had daughter Gisele. When she and Pierre cut up in 1962, Olivia remained in Paris.
After the 1950s, she gave up main roles however made her justifiable share of appearances till 1988.
Strolling on stage to current an Oscar in 2003, she received a four-minute standing ovation.
Joan died in 2013, aged 96, and whereas they by no means made peace Olivia insisted “feud” was too sturdy a phrase.
In a chat marking her 100th birthday, she stated: “A feud implies persevering with hostile conduct between events.
“I can’t consider a single occasion whereby I initiated hostile behaviour. On my half, it was at all times loving, typically estranged and, in later years, severed.”
Residing largely as a recluse after Benjamin died, Olivia was made a Dame in 2017 – the oldest particular person to get the honour. A fortnight in need of turning 101, she described it as “probably the most gratifying of birthday presents”.
It was becoming recognition of Hollywood royalty the likes of which the world won’t ever see once more.