Thursday, June 30, 2016

All About Olivia: 10 Fascinating Facts about Olivia de Havilland on Her 102nd Birthday

Olivia de Havilland looking lovely in the 1940s
Olivia de Havilland is one of Hollywood’s classiest golden era actresses. She fought for good parts, stood up to studio heads, balanced a classy career with raising children, discreet about her distance toward sister Joan Fontaine, and married just twice. De Havilland did all this without scandals, breakdowns, drugs and alcohol, diva meltdowns, or tell-all books. So, just how did de Havilland ever have such a big career? Easy, by working hard and making challenging career choices. 

Here are 10 highlights of the life and career of Olivia de Havilland.

Olivia de Havilland was born in Toyko on July 1, 1916 to British parents.

De Havilland became a naturalized citizen on Nov. 28, 1941, on the eve of Pearl Harbor. Great timing, Olivia!

Olivia left Hollywood to live in Paris in 1956. She wrote a best-seller, pre-dating David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty Some Day, called Every Frenchman Has One, a humorous look at learning the language and customs of France.

Olivia sidesteps sister Joan after her first Oscar win. De Havilland
was upset over a catty remark that Fontaine made about her husband.
Olivia had an on-again, off-again relationship with actress sister Joan Fontaine for decades. Mostly off!

De Havilland is a two-time Academy Award winner for To Each Their Own and The Heiress, in 1946 & 49.

Olivia made 8 films with Errol Flynn. The first, Captain Blood, made them stars. Their last, 1941’s They Died with Their Boots On, was a fictionalized bio-pic of George Custer. Their best? 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, tons of fun in beautiful Technicolor. She and Flynn had a mutual attraction for one another, but de Havilland never acted on it, since Flynn was a notorious womanizer. Where do you think the old expression “in like Flynn” came from?

Olivia and Errol in their prime as Maid Marion and Robin Hood.
De Havilland had romances with such diverse men as eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes, beloved actor Jimmy Stewart, and macho director John Huston.  Olivia married twice, once to author Marcus Goodrich, and a much longer one to Pierre Galante, an executive editor at Paris Match. She had a son with Goodrich, and a daughter with Galante.

The actress sued Warner Brothers in 1943 to get out her contract—and won. Bette Davis had tried once—and lost. The studio system would put actors on “suspension” for turning down roles, without pay. Actors were not free to work elsewhere and the time spent on suspension was added on to the remainder of their contracts! De Havilland won the admiration of fellow actors, but was given the cold shoulder by studio heads for two years. This was an eternity, back when actors appeared in 3 to 4 movies a year. However, the unofficial blacklisting ended when de Havilland signed a two-picture deal with Paramount.

De Havilland only played evil characters twice in her long career: an “evil” twin in 1946’s The Dark Mirror and the two-faced cousin in 1964’s Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Olivia preferred playing heroines over villainesses, despite good reviews for both films.

A recent picture of lovely Olivia!
Olivia in a make-up test as Melanie.
Olivia de Havilland is the last surviving star of Gone with the Wind.  Happy Birthday to Ms. Olivia de Havilland, who ain’t gone yet!

Happy 102nd, Olivia!


  1. loving these little profiles, rick! It's perfectly you

  2. Thanks, Brian...working on some bigger pieces, too!