People we love: Olivia de Havilland

Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind

Olivia de Havilland was born on July 1, 1916 in Tokyo, Japan. Her British parents raised her in Califorinia. Her sister was born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, but performed in films under the name Joan Fontaine. Stories of their feud over the same roles are the stuff of Hollywood legend.

She made her film debut in 1935 opposite Errol Flynn in Captain Blood and again in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Perhaps one of her most significant roles was as the long-suffering Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. She was nominated for best supporting actress in that role but that award went to Hattie McDaniel who was the first African American actress to win that award. Incidentially, McDaniel was able to receive the award but along with the other black performers had been barred from the premier in Atlanta.

But de Havilland later won Academy Awards for her performances in To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949).

As one of the last surviving cast members from Gone With the Wind, de Havilland has lived in Paris since the 1950s. She rarely

President George W. Bush presented de Havilland with the National Medal of Arts in November 2008.

make personal appearances. In 2008, she received the National Medial of Arts. In 2010, at the age of 94, Olivia de Havilland was appointed a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur, a decoration awarded by the President of the French Republic.

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