Actress Olivia de Havilland, one of the last remaining links to the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood, has died at the age of 104, multiple media outlets reported Sunday.
De Havilland died in her sleep of natural causes Saturday at her home in Paris, France, where she had lived since 1960, according to Entertainment Weekly.
She was most known for her role as Melanie Hamilton in 1939’s “Gone With The Wind,” but also had starring roles opposite Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood” (1935) and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938). Her other credits included “Hold Back the Dawn” in 1941, “The Snake Pit” in 1948 and “The Heiress” in 1949.
She was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning best actress for “The Heiress” and 1946’s “To Each Her Own.”
Born in Tokyo on July 1, 1916, the British De Havilland was also known for her fierce independence, fighting the studio system to gain more clout over her career. Her sister, Joan Fontaine, was an actress of equal stature, but the two famously did not get along, and reportedly did not speak to each other for decades in the later lives.
Fontaine died in 2013 at age 96.
“Olivia de Havilland was not only beautiful and talented, she was a courageous visionary and an inspiration to generations,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement Sunday. “She was a founding member of Screen Actors Guild in a time when organizing and joining a union was often a dangerous enterprise. She sued her studio, Warner Bros., in 1943 for extending her contract past its original seven-year expiration date. SAG-AFTRA members will be forever grateful to Ms. de Havilland for her contributions to the founding of our union and the protection of its members. She was a marvel and a legend. Rest in peace.”
De Havilland’s name was in the news in recent years after she brought legal action against FX Networks for her portrayal in the network’s 2017 miniseries “Feud: Bette and Joan.”
In the complaint filed on behalf of De Havilland, her attorneys argued she “has built a professional reputation for integrity, honesty, generosity, self-sacrifice and dignity. A key reason for the public’s deep respect for Olivia de Havilland is that in her 80-plus year career, she has steadfastly refused to engage in typical Hollywood gossip about the relationships of other actors.”
The case was settled in 2019 in the studio’s favor in a status conference before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elaine Lu. The state Supreme Court denied review of the case in July 2018 and the U.S. Supreme Court did the same on Jan. 19, 2018.
The actress had obtained her only court victory in September 2017, when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Holly Kendig rejected FX Networks’ claims the suit she filed that June should be dismissed on free-speech grounds.
Catherine Zeta-Jones portrayed de Havilland in the series, which starred Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis.