The last great survivor of the golden Hollywood lives in retirement in Paris and still retains the lucidity of yesteryear, when she was one of the great stars of cinema with films like ‘Gone with the Wind’

“Walking with you through life was very nice, ma’am.” Back in 1941, the phrase was said by a heroic general Custer to his wife in “They died with their boots on” ; or what is the same: an Apollonian Errol Flynn to his Olivia de Havilland . That was the last film of the most emblematic couple of the sword and cloak cinema of the 30s. It would also be a perfect epitaph for the future death of Olivia. However, prospective obituary writers will have to wait. The last survivor of that contemporary Olympus that was old Hollywood turns 104 this Wednesday.

After the deaths of Doris Da y and Kirk Douglas , Golden Age vacancies are greater than ever. If we start counting, there are very few big stars in that unreal cinema full of lights that continue in this world. The main one is, without a doubt, the good one of Olivia.

Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland, in a 1938 image. (Cordon Press)

The latest photographs dating from her still show her with vitality and some of the great beauty that she once was. Taken by Agence Photo in December 2018, the snapshots teach us why the Melita of the now controversial ‘Gone with the Wind’ is a survivor (paradoxically, she was the only character who died on the film). Also why he had enough energy to denounce in court that the series ‘Feud’ was making malicious use of his image (in that series about the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford it was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones ).

 

A little over two years ago, the California Court of Appeals ruled that the creators of ‘Feud: Joan vs. Bette’ were right: their creative freedom prevailed over the lawsuit brought by the mythical actress when she was portrayed as a ‘vulgar gossip’ in Fiction. The court also considered that the description made of the Olivia de Havilland that Zeta-Jones embodied in the series was not “defamatory”.

The demand for the protagonist of ‘The heiress’ or ‘Gone with the wind’ , who at her age maintains a surprising lucidity, arose from watching the series. Shocked at the portrait that was made of her, telling gossip of David and Crawford and calling her sister and eternal enemy ‘fox’ Joan Fontaine , she decided to sue the producers for slandering her and for “bad publicity” by representing her as a gossip that To top it all off, he said that kind of outrage about his own family.

His famous enmity with Joan Fontaine

Winner of two Oscars and considered one of the best actresses in history, Olivia de Havilland has also been the talk of all Hollywood for her enmity with Fontaine. Three years ago, she dared to talk about a subject, that of the supposed hatred for her sister, who she had dodged for decades. “A dispute involves hostile conduct between two parties. I cannot think of a single case in which hostile behavior began , but I can think of many times when my reaction was defensive in the face of her inconsiderate behavior.”

Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland. (Cordon Press)
Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland. (Cordon Press)

Their bad relationship, which is part of the history of Hollywood gossip, dates back to the 1942 Oscar ceremony, when the two competed for the best actress award. However, Olivia confesses in the interview that the suspicion between the two arose when they were just girls. “My demeanor towards her has always been loving, sometimes distant, and in recent years the relationship has broken down.” In the report, Olivia also had to describe Joan’s personality . “She was a brilliant person, with multiple talents, but with astigmatism regarding her perception of people and events, which made her react often unfairly and prejudicedly.”

Olivia de Havilland, in a file image.
Olivia de Havilland, in a file image.

Born in Tokyo in 1916, the contract she signed with Warner in the mid-1930s allowed her to become one of the best-known faces on the big screen thanks to the couple she formed with Errol Flynn on films like ‘Captain Blood’ ( 1935) or ‘Robin of the woods’ (1938) . The actor, known for his reputation as a rogue and a womanizer, knocked him down despite being married to actress Lili Damita. However, Olivia has recognized that despite rejecting him, she was in love with him.

In time, De Havilland wanted to prove his worth beyond adventure cinema and, contrary to Jack Warner’s wish , which he would end up denouncing for the abusive contracts that the stars suffered at the time, he ended up getting the role of Melania in ‘What the wind took away ‘(1939) . Thanks to his complaint, a law called ‘de Havilland’ was created, which those of his profession always thanked him for ending the strict control that the studios exercised over the actors. Characters such as ‘Viper’s Nest’ (1948) or ‘The Heiress’ (1949) gave her prestige and made her one of the best actresses in history. She personally married twice: the first to Marcus Goodrich and the second toPierre Galante , whom he also divorced in 1979 and who, despite his differences with him, cared for on his deathbed. Since then, the actress has preferred to live without “sentimental complications” in her small house in Paris, from where she appreciates all the displays of affection that come to her as one of the last survivors of golden Hollywood. The enmity with her sister, in the minds of all the cinephiles who followed their careers, has also survived the passage of time, as their public appearances faded.

When she presented a tribute to the Oscar-winning historical figures in 2004 , there was no public figure who didn’t shake her ass from her seat and stood up to applaud her. Many will say that it is a matter of survival, but the reality is quite different. Olivia was a great actress and is also one of the last belongings of a type of cinema that magnified the lives of those who saw her with her epic lies. So it is an honor to continue with us. That is why we say, as that General Custer would say with the egregious face of Errol Flynn: hopefully, at 104 years old, she will have many walks through life, madam.

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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