Olivia de Havilland Dies – Last of the Great Movie Stars
A couple of weeks ago Turner Classic Movies was showing Captain Blood. The 1935 Michael Curtiz directed adventure film stars Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Donald Meek, Lionel Atwill, Guy Kibbee and a 19-year-old making her fourth film – Olivia de Havilland. Except for Flynn and de Havilland, the names are mostly forgotten except to the hardiest of film fans.
As I was watching there was a great satisfaction in knowing that in Paris, there was the possibility that a 104-year-old woman could watch her teen self on the small screen anytime she wanted.
Did Olivia remember her big break in 1934 being cast as Hermia in the Max Reinhardt play, Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Originally the part was Gloria Stuart’s, famous as the “older” Rose in Titanic 60 years later. But Stuart’s filming conflicts prevented her participation in Reinhardt’s live production. De Havilland got the stage role and reprised it in her 1935 film debut to great acclaim, leading to a long term Warner Bros. contract. Though Midsummer was Olivia’s first film, it was not released until September 1935 after the release of two films Olivia made in the interim, Alibi Ike and The Irish In Us.
What memories Olivia de Havilland possessed of her time in Hollywood from the early 1930s and onward have now gone to the grave with her. Olivia de Havilland, the last of the truly great movie stars died on July 25, 2020 in Paris, France where she had lived since 1953.
As pointed out in our article on Olivia’s 100th birthday, Olivia was cast alongside every major star in film roles. The stories she could tell would illuminate times and people that are now just distant memories. Olivia was working for many years on her autobiography.
A Tell All? Probably Not.
I heard through publishing circles a great deal of the book was complete. Yet, the general feeling is that this classy woman was not going to reveal things she believed should remain private while she was still alive. What will become of Olivia’s writing?
If her estate allows it, look for some sort of book release in the near future. Then maybe we’ll understand, the cold relationship with her actress sister Joan Fontaine. Unfolding in those pages the true depth and details of the feelings towards Olivia’s frequent co-star Errol Flynn.
When she was just 18, Olivia told columnist Joe Thomas, “Romance doesn’t seem to mix with a career in pictures.” Olivia went on, “Our hours of work are so irregular that it is frequently necessary to break dates. Boys don’t like that. So I’m not even going to think about romance until I’m finished in pictures.”
Olivia did not marry until 1946. She divorced first husband, screenwriter Marcus Goodrich in 1953 and in 1955 married Pierre Galante in 1955. They remained married until divorcing in 1979. Her children Benjamin Goodrich and Giselle Galante survive her.
There are stories are to be told.
We have thespian Olivia de Havilland forever on celluloid. Maybe we can soon read about the last legendary star’s life in her own words.
Goodbye, for now Olivia. But as long as there is film, new generations will make your acquaintance.
I actually respect how de Havilland and Fontaine never really hid their mutual dislike. Not all siblings get along, and they never pretended to, except for the random publicity shot. Were they ever photographed together after 1945 or so?