Friday sees the 100th birthday of the legendary actress Olivia de Havilland and she will be enjoying celebrating the milestone with some “dear, dear” friends.
Nominated for five Oscars and star of the iconic film Gone With The Wind, de Havilland sat down with People to talk about her fascinating life, her career, and her romances.
Her start to life was a little complicated. Olivia was born in Japan to English parents but was naturalized and raised in Los Angeles. Since then, she has become an internationally recognized film star over a period of an amazing eight decades.
De Havilland says she is honored to be called the last star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and golden it was indeed. According to a report by The Wrap, Olivia first debuted in Midsummer Night’s Dream back in 1935 and has experienced eight on-screen romances with Errol Flynn. She later starred with Bette Davis in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte and with James Caan in Lady in a Cage. Olivia also starred opposite Montgomery Clift in The Heiress.
— People Magazine (@people) July 1, 2016
However, De Havilland is probably best known for her role as Melanie Wilkes in the classic film Gone With The Wind.
Surprisingly, she also turned down some classic movies, including It’s A Wonderful Life and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Olivia told People that, right in the middle of her Hollywood career and while going through a divorce, she moved to France. It was after she attended the 1953 Cannes Film Festival and met and “married the very first Frenchman I’d met in France.” They later had a daughter and she bought her Paris home.
She has lived in that home in Paris for over 60 years, describing it as “a little white house, as tall and narrow as a chimney,” and she said how content she was with the role life has given her, thrilled to be able to say she is now a centenarian.
Looking back on her life, when asked what advice she would give to her younger self, she replied, “Take a long leave of absence from the Warner contract and go to Mills College, where the scholarship I had won in 1934 is still waiting for me!”
— Variety (@Variety) June 30, 2016
Not only was she a Hollywood actress with her own star on the Hollywood Boulevard, however, as she also has a California law named after her.
Back in the day, Olivia challenged Warner Bros over the terms of her contract and the new law that ensued was the 1944 de Havilland Decision, which “made it clear that California law limits to seven years the time an employer can enforce a contract with an employee.”
Surprisingly de Havilland was contacted by none other than Jared Leto back in 2010, whose attorneys were citing her law as precedent to get him out of a recording contract.
“I was more than surprised to hear from Jared Leto,” she said.
“I was enchanted! He came to my house to thank me for the de Havilland Decision, which he and his band, 30 Seconds to Mars, had utilized victoriously in a similar contractual dispute,” said Olivia.
De Havilland added that it is wonderful to know the decision continues to be used by artists and other professionals to this day.
Happy 100th birthday to a legend and the last star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Olivia de Havilland.
[Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images]