Tributes are being paid to Dame Olivia de Havilland after the legendary British-American actress passed away at age 104 over the weekend.
De Havilland, a two-time Academy Award winner and one of the last remaining stars from the so-called “Golden age of Hollywood,” died Saturday of natural causes at her home in Paris, the BBC reports.
De Havilland will forever be remembered for her role as Melanie Hamilton, sweet-natured best friend of Vivien Leigh‘s Scarlett O’Hara, in the 1939 epic romantic movie Gone with the Wind, which remains enduringly popular but in recent years has been heavily criticized for its depiction of Black characters. De Havilland earned the first of her five Oscar nominations for her performance as Melanie, but lost in the Best Supporting Actress category to co-star Hattie McDaniel, who became the first Black person to win an Academy Award.
De Havilland won her two ‘Best Actress’ Oscars a little later: for 1946’s To Each Our Own, in which she plays a woman forced to give up her newborn son after becoming pregnant out of wedlock, and 1949’s The Heiress, in which she plays a wealthy young woman wooed by a suspected gold-digger.
De Havilland’s place in Hollywood history is also assured thanks to her landmark 1940s lawsuit against Warner Bros., the movie studio which had typecast her in relatively uninteresting ingénue roles and tried to use “penalties” to extend her contract beyond its seven-year term. In what became known as the “De Havilland Law,” the California Court of Appeal ruled that no person or company could enforce an exclusive personal services contract beyond the term of seven calendar years in any circumstance.
In a tribute to de Havilland posted on Instagram, actor and musician Jared Leto recalled how his rock band 30 Seconds to Mars used the De Havilland Law “as a source of leverage” in ending their highly unfavorable record contact in 2009.
He revealed that he and De Havilland later struck up a friendship after he wrote to thank her, saying: “I ended up meeting with her in Paris, and we had a wonderful time together. I got to thank her for fighting the system back then so I could battle it now.”
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The legendary Olivia de Havilland passed away yesterday. She was 104. Olivia made a powerful impact in my life and I had the pleasure to spend some time with her in Paris. I thanked her for her bravery and shared how her choices affected me and my brother and gave us opportunities to fight for our creative freedom. She was a class act. I still have the kind and thoughtful letters she wrote me in longhand on beautiful blue stationery. They were of another era. Here’s an excerpt from an interview I did some time ago… We discovered that, despite having sold millions of records, not only were we not going to get paid a penny by our record company, but we were also millions and millions of dollars in debt. We educated ourselves and found out that in California there's a specific labor law which states that you can't be bound to a contract for more than seven years. At that time we were signed for nine years. So we used that labor law as a major source of leverage in our battle. It is called the De Havilland Law and was put into place thanks to the bravery of Olivia De Havilland in the 1940s. I ended up meeting with her in Paris, and we had a wonderful time together. I got to thank her for fighting the system back then so I could battle it now. It was amazing to meet her – she's a legend. We made a movie about our fight, it’s called Artifact.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, director Edgar Wright, and actor Antonio Banderas are among fans and well-wishers posting tributes to de Havilland on social media.
At what age does it change from 'gone to soon' to 'they had a great run'? Well, 104 is a hell of a run and here are just a few of my favourite Olivia De Havilland films. There are many, many more to discover and love. RIP. pic.twitter.com/fWlN2vPy0v
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) July 26, 2020
“To Each His Own,” “The Heiress,” “Gone with the Wind” and so many others. A two-time Best Actress Oscar winner, Olivia de Havilland was a mainstay of Hollywood’s Golden Age and an immeasurable talent. Here's to a true legend of our industry. pic.twitter.com/VYMMNknh4v
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) July 26, 2020
— Antonio Banderas (@antoniobanderas) July 26, 2020
Photographer Julien Mignot, who took de Havilland’s portrait for a New York Times interview feature in 2018, shared a video of the actress, then age 102, in fine form and clearly still relishing life.
De Havilland had lived in Paris since 1960 and is survived by her daughter Gisèle Galante. We recently made her our British Icon of the Week.
Rest in Peace, Dame Olivia de Havilland – and many thanks for your incredible work.Read More