HOLLYWOOD—Actress Olivia Mary De Havilland died Sunday, July 26, at her home in Paris, France where she lived for almost 60 years. She died at the age of 104 of natural causes making her the last major surviving star of the Golden Age Era of Hollywood. She was the longest living cast member of the Oscar-winning film, “Gone With the Wind” (1939).
She was born to a stage actress and a professor in Tokyo, Japan on July 1, 1916 and starred in 49 films during her career. Her sister is actress Joan Fontaine who died in 2013.
De Havilland received five Oscar nominations during her career including a Supporting Actress nomination for her performance in “Gone With the Wind.” She also earned nominations for her performances in “The Snake Pit” (1948) and “The Heiress” (1949) and won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for “To Each His Own” (1946).
Not only is de Havilland known for being a well decorated actress, but for taking Warner Bros. to court in 1943 for adding time to her contract in retaliation for her turning down film roles. She was backed by the Screen Actors Guild while filing her lawsuit on August 23, 1943. The court ruled in the actress’ favor resulting in the De Havilland Law.
The court ruled unanimously on December 8, 1944, that the seven years of service in the contract must mean seven calendar years. De Havilland’s contract had been renewed six times after her initial signing on May 5, 1936. The law granted actors with more freedom with which studios they worked with, starting with Olivia de Havilland herself.