Jul 26, 2020 02:47 PM EST

Olivia de Havilland Dies at 104

Olivia de Havilland Dies at 104

Legendary "Gone With the Wind" actress Olivia de Havilland has died from natural causes. She was 104. She was the last surviving star of the iconic "Gone With the Wind" film, portraying Melanie Hamilton. She became one of the top actresses of Hollywood's golden age. 

de Havilland was born on July 1, 1916, in Tokyo. her parents were British and also produced another daughter, actress Joan Fontaine. The sisters would eventually go on to have one of the most well known and long-lived feuds in Hollywood. Her family relocated to California during her childhood and de Havilland gained an interest in acting after performing in a school production of "Alice in Wonderland". 

Professionally, she got her break in acting while working as an understudy for Gloria Stuart (Elderly Rose in Titanic) in a stage production "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Stuart left the role and de Havilland soon found herself under contract with Warner Bros. She was cast in the 1935 film version of the play.

"Gone With the Wind" was, however, the film that really solidified her role in Hollywood history. In 2004, de Havilland explained to The New York Times how she had zero interest in playing Scarlett O'Hara, unlike many of the actresses of the day. 

"Scarlett didn't interest me at all. She was a career girl, after all, and I was a career girl. Melanie was something else. She is a happy woman, she is a loving woman, and you cannot say Scarlett was loving."

After this life-changing role, however, de Havilland had to fight with Warner Bros. over control for her film choices. Under contract, actors and actresses were obliged to take any roles offered or they would have to have time added to said contract. She eventually won her lawsuit against the studio and went on to have a long career, winning two Oscars. She retired from acting in the 1980s. 

de Havilland lived in Paris for nearly six decades and is survived by her daughter, Gisèle Galante. She was predeceased by her son Benjamin Goodrich, in 1991.

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