Olivia de Havilland, British actress, wearing a blue dress with a matching blue feather in her hair, sitting on a yellow sofa in a studio portrait, against a black background, circa 1935. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

A Monumental Talent

Two-time Academy Award winner and star of Gone with the Wind, Olivia de Havilland, has passed away peacefully at the age of 104.

De Havilland first rose to fame in the 1930’s when she starred as Errol Flynn’s damsel in distress in several swashbuckling films, like Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood. When she grew tired of being cast in those kinds of roles over and over again, Warner Bros. tried to extend her contract by seven years as punishment for rejecting roles. She brought a legal battle to the studio, eventually winning in a landmark ruling that is known as the “de Havilland Law.”

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Her Roles After the Win

She had already starred as Melanie in Gone with the Wind at this point, which she had earned praise for. After the ruling, though, she led several dramatic, performance-driven films. She earned her first Academy Award for To Each His Own, with her second coming a few years later for The Heiress.

Olivia de Havilland Passes Away at 104

Outside of film, she was proudly liberal and fought extremism on both sides. She opposed the growing Communist sympathies in Hollywood and was even called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities after being labeled a “swimming-pool pink” by TIME Magazine.

She continued to play supporting roles in the 1970’s and transitioned to television in the 1980’s. While acting in television, she would win a Golden Globe for her role in the television movie, Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. Eventually, she would choose to stay to herself with very few public appearances, with a few on-screen appearances here and there.

Personal Trials

Unfortunately, her private life wasn’t always perfect, as she had a falling out with her sister, Joan Fontaine, a fellow actress. Their relationship was fractious already and the two stopped speaking in the 1970’s. Many contribute their falling out to de Havilland’s independent spirit and willfulness, but also acknowledge that her career and talent were directly tied to those as well.

Fontaine passed away in 2013 at the age of 96.

An Actress We Will Remember

Olivia de Havilland was an independent, strong woman who never settled for what others wanted to choose for her. She fought for her own decisions, her own agency, and she will be remembered for her talent and roles she brought to life.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to her family.

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