Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving star of the film Gone with the Wind, has died at the age of 104. As the Hollywood Reporter revealed on Sunday, de Havilland was at her home in Paris where she died of natural causes.
De Havilland starred in films such as The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Snake Pit, and The Heiress. She won two best actress Oscars, one for To Each His Own and one for The Heiress. In the first film, she played an unwed mother forced to give up her child. In the second, she portrayed a woman who fell in love with a man that her father disapproved of.
She famously played Melanie in Gone with the Wind in 1939, for which she received an Oscar nomination. She ultimately lost to Hattie McDaniel, the Black American actress who portrayed Mammy in the film.
She moved to Paris 60 years ago after a landmark legal battle with Hollywood that helped pave the way to change the studio system, as The Guardian notes.
“I was told I would never work again, if I won or if I lost,” she later said of suing Warner Bros. in 1943. “[But] when I won they were impressed, and didn’t bear a grudge.”
While she did continue to work in Hollywood through the 1940s and mid-’50s, she began to appear less frequently in films after moving to Paris. She appeared in several television shows in the 1970s, but focused on teaching Sunday school at her local church in her later years.
She explained, after winning the National Medal of Arts in 2008 and appearing in a 2009 Alzheimer’s documentary, that she had lost her taste for acting for the most part, noting that real life was full of events that were more important than playing a fantasy.
“That is more absorbing and enriching than a fantasy life. I don’t need a fantasy life as once I did. That is the life of the imagination and I had a great need for it. Films were the perfect means of satisfying that need.”
More recently, de Havilland sued FX and Ryan Murphy over the way she was portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the show Feud, as The Inquisitr reported.
De Havilland often played so-called “good girls,” a role that she once said she preferred.
“Playing bad girls is a bore,” she said. “I have always had more luck with good-girl roles, because they require more from an actress.”