Olivia de Havilland, 'Gone With the Wind' Star, Dead at 104
By Latifah Muhammad
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Olivia de Havilland, a two-time Academy Award-winning actress, and last surviving cast member from Gone With the Wind, died peacefully from natural causes at her residence in Paris, France, on Sunday, ET confirms. She was 104.
Although she was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1916 to British parents, de Havilland was raised in California with her younger sister, Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine. Despite making history as the only sisters to win Oscars in leading roles, the estranged siblings had a longstanding rivalry that lasted until Fontaine’s death in 2013.
De Havilland made her onscreen debut in Max Reinhardt's 1935 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. That same year, she landed her breakout role in Captain Blood, starring opposite Errol Flynn, and went on to appear in film classics like The Adventures of Robin Hood,The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, prior toher Oscar-nominated role as Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind.
The British-American film legend, who once dated actor James Stewart and famed aviator and film tycoon Howard Hughes, was also close friends with Bette Davis. In 2017, de Havilland sued Ryan Murphy and FX over how she was portrayed in the series Feud: Bette and Joan based around Davis and Joan Crawford’s noted rivalry. Catherine Zeta-Jones played de Havilland in the series.
Although the Feud lawsuit was dismissed, de Havilland scored a landmark legal victory against Warner Bros. decades earlier in 1944. The court ruling, which freed de Havilland from her film contract, set a legal precedent in Hollywood, but led to de Havilland being temporarily blacklisted from the industry. Her career rebounded in 1946’s To Each His Own. The film earned de Havilland her first Academy Award for Best Actress. She won in the same category again for 1949’s The Heiress.
Her last leading motion picture roles were in 1964’s Lady in a Cage and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, the latter of which co-starred Davis. After walking away from the big screen, de Havilland transitioned into television, making her final onscreen appearance in the 1988 TV drama, The Woman He Loved.
De Havilland married journalist Marcus Goodrich in 1946, with whom she welcomed a son, Benjamin Goodrich. The couple divorced in 1953.
Two years later, de Havilland moved to France and wed French magazine editor Pierre Galante. The two shared a daughter, Gisele Galante, and remained friends after separating in 1962 and divorcing a decade later. Galante died from lung cancer in 1988, while de Havilland’s son and first ex-husband died in 1991.
In the latter years of her life, de Havilland lived a relatively quiet life in France, and earned several honors for her film career including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the National Medal of Art, which she was presented in 2008. She also received the Legion of Honor from France in 2010 and was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017.