The last great star of classic Hollywood has died of natural causes in Paris, the city where she lived

Olivia de Havilland , the last remaining classic Hollywood star, has died at the age of 104 in Paris, of natural causes. The winner of two Oscars for Best Actress for her roles in The Intimate Life of Julia Norris in 1946 and The Heiress of 1949, she was nonetheless remembered for her portrayal of the stoic Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in the 1939 classic Gone With the Wind. led .

Her sister, Joan Fontaine , to whom she was united, that is to say, a deep rivalry, had passed away in 2013. They had been barely a year, Olivia was the oldest, and that’s why it was Joan who had to find a stage name, so that no one related them, because they hated each other.

Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine in 1945 (Silver screen collection)
Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine in 1945 (Silver screen collection)

Both were born in Tokyo , where their father, the British Walter de Havilland, practiced as a lawyer. The mother, Lilian Rusel, was instead an actress. The marriage did not materialize, and the two sisters who were already so loathed traveled with their mother to California, where Lillian married a certain Fontaine. Both debuted in Hollywood at the same time, just in the same year 1935, and had more or less even races, although Olivia was always the greatest.

Two Oscars for Olivia

Joan only got an Oscar, for Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941), and her film career was much shorter, she retired from cinema in the late 60’s. Olivia took longer to be rewarded, but she took two, and she did not retire until the 1980s. Her first statuette came with The Intimate Life of Julia Norris, a great melodrama by Mitchell Leisen in which she gave life to a woman who was following from afar the life of her illegitimate son, whom she had been forced to abandon to avoid the usual scandal, and another for the no less melodramatic The Heiress (1949), by William Wyler, in which he fell in love with Montgomery Clift, who perhaps was more in love with his money. Neither of them congratulated the other on their golden statuette.

Olivia de Havilland (Keystone / Getty)
Olivia de Havilland (Keystone / Getty)

Olivia also beat Joan in terms of number of unsuccessful nominations. The first came as a secondary for Gone with the Wind at the 1940 ceremony, for a role Joan boasted of having rejected before being offered to her; the second nomination, already as the protagonist for If it did not dawn (1941), another great film by Leisen, and was also nominated for the nightmare Nest of Vipers (1948), where she descended into the underworld of a mental institution for women.

All very dramatic roles, to the liking of the Hollywood Academy, although Olivia de Havilland not only came to Hollywood to make rivers of tears flow, her early years were more casual, often accompanying Errol Flynn on adventures led by Michael Curtiz as El Captain Blood (1935), Robin de los Bosques (1938) or Dodge, city without law (1939), among others. In total, she participated in more than 60 films and television series, before retiring permanently in 1988.

Jacqueline Bisset and Olivia de Havilland (Philippe Wojazer / Reuters)
Jacqueline Bisset and Olivia de Havilland (Philippe Wojazer / Reuters)

Even the death of their beloved mother could not reconcile them. It served only to cross reproaches. Curiously, Olivia only made peace with Joan once she was dead and buried. She wanted to bring those responsible for the Feud series to the United States Supreme Court, because her character, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, called her sister a whore. The court dismissed the case. Although freedom of expression was appealed, the rivalry between the two sisters, scattered like stardust, may have been too famous. Now they can make peace.

 

 

 

Amelia Warner– After graduating from NYU with a master's degree in history, She was also a columnist for many local newspapers. Amelia Warner mostly covers Entertainment topics, but at times loves to write about movie reviews as well.

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