Celebrity Then And Now
Olivia de Havilland
Name: Olivia de Havilland
Birthdate: July 1, 1916
Famous Years: 1935-1988
Currently Known For: Retired Actress
Networth: $20 MillionFamous For: Gone with the Wind, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Snake Pit
Olivia de Havilland
Name Olivia de Havilland
Birthdate July 1, 1916
Famous Years 1935-1988
Currently Known For Retired Actress
Networth $20 Million
Famous For Gone with the Wind, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Snake Pit

In 1939, Hollywood was introduced to one of the biggest films of all-time when “Gone with the Wind” was adapted from the pages of a novel to the big screen. Among those that had starring roles in the film was Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie Hamilton at Twelve Oaks. The film was considered to be an expensive epic at the time with a budget that came in at nearly $4 million, but would pull in nearly $200 million at the box office. When adjusted for inflation, the movie made more than $1.8 billion in the United States alone, setting it far and away ahead of number two all-time (“Star Wars”). de Havilland would be able to parlay this early role into a long career in Hollywood, and is still fondly remembered to this day as she’s now a centenarian.

de Havilland was born in Tokyo, Japan on July 1, 1916 to British parents, as her father was in the country teaching English at a college. While she was still young, de Havilland found herself in the San Francisco, California area where she grew up learning to perform music and act on stage. She quickly became the leading star at her school during every production, but wanted to become a teacher instead.

However, de Havilland had dazzled audiences so much that her local stage performances caught the attention of those in Hollywood. At just 18 years old, de Havilland was offered a contract to star in movies with Warner Bros. for several years, which was too much for a teenager to turn down. With that, she made her debut in 1935 with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and had three more films in the very same year with “Alibi Ike”, “The Irish in Us” and “Captain Blood”.

It didn’t take long for de Havilland to become a star as her clout in the studio had grown and she was being featured in more prominent roles. This included playing the role of Maid Marian in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” with Errol Flynn, followed up by “Dodge City” and “Hard to Get”. Of course, the big role would come when she became Melanie in “Gone with the Wind”, which earned her her first Oscar nomination, coming in the Best Supporting Actress category.

The actress has said that she still watches “Gone with the Wind” having seen it dozens of times now. The reason being she wants to see all of her co-stars again. “Luckily it does not make me melancholy,” she said. “Instead, when I see them vibrantly alive on screen, I experience a kind of reunion with them, a joyful one.”

Over the next decade, de Havilland would no longer be in the supporting roles, but instead the leading lady that garnered Oscar buzz on an almost yearly basis. In 1942 and 1949, she was nominated for Best Actress in “Hold Back the Dawn” and “The Snake Pit”. In 1947, she’d have her first win with “To Each His Own” and earned a second in 1950 with “The Heiress”.

de Havilland then continued to be the leading lady in films during the 1950s in films such as “That Lady” and “The Proud Rebel”, and slowed down her film career in the mid 1960s with her last big lead coming in “Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte”. At this point, de Havilland was in her 50s and studios tended to lean toward younger star actresses, so she decided to try her hand in television.

If you’re expecting to see the 102 year old in another movie, you can probably bet that it’s not going to happen. de Havilland’s final role came in 1979 when she played Queen Anne in “The Fifth Musketeer”, though she did pop up on the big screen once since then in a voiceover role. That came in 2009 when she was the narrator for the film “I Remember Better When I Paint”, which is a documentary about Alzheimer’s disease.

de Havilland would appear on the small screen a handful of times following her final film role, starting with an episode of “The Love Boat” where she played Aunt Hilly. de Havilland then followed that up with a pair of TV movies in 1982 with “Murder is Easy” and “The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana”, the latter of which she played Queen Elizabeth. In 1986, de Havilland would star in a miniseries with Patrick Swayze called “North and South: Book II” and then had a Golden Globe award winning performance as Dowager Empress Maria in “Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna” that same year. Her final role would come two years later in the form of the TV movie “The Woman he Loved”.

That doesn’t mean that de Havilland hasn’t been out of the spotlight completely, however. She’s made many public appearances over recent years and was a focus on the first season of the show “Feud” about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. de Havilland was played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and de Havilland of course spoke up about the series. “I find it extremely offensive that the producers of ‘Feud’ chose to use my life, reputation and name in such a dishonest way for their own commercial purpose in sensationalizing their show,” she said.

It was rare to have her give an interview about the situation, but many were happy to hear from the actress. After talking about how she wouldn’t give up fighting her depiction on the series, de Havilland was asked about why she walked away from acting. “I would like to answer your question with another,” she said. “How many roles of significance are written for women of advanced years?”