Gone With The Wind star Olivia de Havilland dies aged 104

Dame Olivia de Havilland, who played Melanie Hamilton in Gone With The Wind, has died at the age of 104.

The star passed away in Paris, her representative confirmed, saying the world had “lost an international treasure”.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Dame Olivia was a “mainstay of Hollywood’s Golden Age and an immeasurable talent”.

Image:
1947: Olivia de Havilland receives her best actress Oscar from actor Ray Milland for her performance in To Each His Own

De Havilland appeared in 49 feature films between the 1930s and 1980s, and was made a dame for services to drama in 2017.

She commented at the time: “To receive this honour as my 101st birthday approaches is the most gratifying of birthday presents.”

In the 1930s, she was known for an on-screen partnership with Errol Flynn in films including The Charge Of The Light Brigade (1936) and The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938). The pair never became romantically involved, however.

Following Gone With The Wind, released in 1939 and named by President Donald Trump as one of his favourite films, De Havilland received the first of five Oscar nominations – and the only one for best supporting actress.

She went on to be nominated for best actress for her roles in four movies all released in the 1940s: Hold Back The Dawn, To Each His Own, The Snake Pit and The Heiress, winning for To Each His Own and The Heiress.

She also worked in theatre and television.

Image:
Olivia de Havilland and her sister Joan Fontaine

De Havilland was born in Tokyo to British parents on 1 July 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

The family moved to California when she was three. Dame Olivia had lived in Paris since the 1950s.

Her younger sister Joan Fontaine was also an actress, winning an Oscar for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1941 thriller Suspicion.

Their mother had studied drama in London and passed on her knowledge to her daughters.

After taking the lead roles in school plays, De Havilland was thinking of becoming an arts teacher and won a scholarship to study at Mills College, Berkeley.

But she never took up the opportunity because she was spotted by a scout for director Max Reinhardt while playing Puck in a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Image:
De Havilland at an awards show in Paris in 2011

Dame Olivia is also well known for being behind a landmark 1944 ruling, known as the De Havilland Law, which ended the tight grip that studios had on contract actors.

Gone With The Wind found its way back into the spotlight recently, when it was temporarily removed from the HBO Max streaming service over its depiction of the pre-Civil War South.

It has since returned with a message advising viewers that the film “denies the horrors of slavery”.

HBO said the film includes “racist depictions” that were “wrong then and are wrong today”.

Image:
Gone With The Wind was released in 1939

Gone With The Wind, which also starred Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Hattie McDaniel, tells the love story of Scarlett O’Hara (Leigh), the daughter of a plantation owner in Georgia, and Rhett Butler (Gable), a Southern aristocrat.

The film broke theatre attendance records on its release and won eight Oscars, including best picture, best actress for Leigh and best supporting actress for McDaniel – the first black person to ever win an Academy Award.

However, McDaniel had to sit separately from her co-stars, at a table at the back of the room, and the film has been heavily criticised for its depiction of slavery.