Dame Olivia Mary de Havilland DBE (born 1 July 1916) is an American actress. At age 102, she is one of the last living leading ladies of The Golden Age of Hollywood and has had a career spanning over 50 years. She won two Academy Awards for Best Actress during her illustrious career, first in 1946 for To Each His Own and secondly in 1949 for The Heiress. She is best known for her roles in Gone with the Wind and other classics like Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, many of them collaborating with Errol Flynn. She is the last surviving actress of most of these film (Gone with the Wind still has Mickey "Beau Wilkes" Kuhn in addition to her).
De Havilland and Flynn appeared in eight films together and were considered to be among Hollywood's best film couples. In fact, Olivia admitted to having a crush on him, but despite Flynn being The Casanova "he never had his wicked way with me." Flynn himself confessed to be in love with her in his autobiography, though he died too soon for the two of them to begin a relationship. De Havilland's responses on his mutual crush have varied; at times she claimed to have been surprised that he was also attracted to her, at other times she claimed to have been aware of it but turned him down because he was too volatile for a married life.
Olivia was also at the center of many feuds. After planning to leave Warner Bros. so she could seek out more varied roles, the studio responded by using Loophole Abuse to lengthen her contract for every part she rejected. De Havilland struck back by filing a lawsuit that established the De Havilland Law, freeing performers at the cost of Olivia never again being hired by Warner Brothers.
One of her largest feuds was her lifelong one with her sister, fellow actress Joan Fontaine. The two had an uneasy relationship since their childhood, and Joan had been viewed as The Un-Favourite, hence why she was not allowed to act with her birth family name. The two often competed for roles and movies, and were even nominated simultaneously for an Academy Award. The sisters remained estranged from each other, and their silence to each other during their mother's funeral cemented this for good. When Joan passed away on December 16th 2013, Olivia stated that she was "shocked and saddened" by the news.
Today she lives in France at the ripe age of 102. She occasionally returned to America for brief appearances, such as her speech at the 75th Academy Awards and for the 65th anniversary of Gone With The Wind, for which she provided a behind-the-scenes commentary. Her most recent role was as the narrator of the 2009 documentary I Remember Better When I Paint. She was rather forcibly dragged back into the spotlight by the release of Feud in 2017, where she was deeply offended by her portrayal and sued FX. She is also the oldest person ever to be awarded a damehood, which was announced about two weeks before her 101st birthday.
She is also the first cousin of famous British airplane designer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland.
De Havilland films with their own trope page:
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) (film debut)
- Captain Blood (1935)
- Anthony Adverse (1936)
- The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936)
- It's Love I'm After (1937)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
- Four's a Crowd (1938)
- Hard to Get (1938)
- Dodge City (1939)
- Gone with the Wind (1939)
- Raffles (1939)
- Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
- The Strawberry Blonde (1941)
- They Died with Their Boots On (1941)
- In This Our Life (1942)
- Princess O'Rourke (1943)
- To Each His Own (1946)
- The Snake Pit (1948)
- The Heiress (1949)
- My Cousin Rachel (1952)
- Libel (1959)
- Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
- Airport '77 (1977)
- The Swarm (1978)
Tropes related to this actress' work include:
- Good Is Boring: Inverted. Frequently cast as wholesome good girls, but didn't mind the typecasting."Actually I think playing bad girls is a bore; I have always had more luck with good girl roles because they require more from an actress."
- I Am Very British: Despite never living in the UK at any point in her childhood, De Havilland recalled in an interview that her mother made her and Joan talk RP throughout their schooling, and they were often mocked by their American classmates.
- The Ingenue: Frequently played these roles, including her most famous one as Melanie.