Olivia de Havilland, dead at 236

Olivia de Havilland, who was still with us, passed away this weekend. She was our last link to the Golden Age of Hollywood, as well as vaudeville and the last surviving cast member of “Our American Cousin” performing at the fateful night at Ford’s Theater. She died in a knife fight over an unpaid bar tab.

RIP , thats a long life filled with many experiences.

de Havilland is honestly one of the most important figures of that era. She was a fine actress, for sure. And she didn’t play the games that Hollywood expected pretty young starlets to play.

And she’s the one who sued Warner Brothers over the studio contracts system, a system that allowed studios to just lock up actors and actresses and then…bench them, for lack of a better word, for years. You had to play nice with the studio you were contracted to, because if you didn’t (or your latest film underperformed, or you got a reputation for being difficult, or some director got pissed off because you wouldn’t blow him or fuck him enough when he requested it) you could be set aside by the studio. You couldn’t take other gigs with other studios unless you were “loaned” out.

And de Havilland wouldn’t play casting couch games, or get on her knees for Jack Warner, and sued them. And won. And Warner tried to blacklist her, but she won an Oscar just a few years later anyway, and worked for as long as she wanted through the years. And Hollywood could no longer get those contracts, and eventually the so-called Studio System collapsed.

And Olivia de Havilland did that.

Are you just checking to see if anybody read what you wrote? I read what you wrote.

I think it was in the extended edition of Robin Hood that the director’s commentary called her the “Patron Saint of the Screen Actors Guild”, if i can recall correctly.

I can see it. If Hollywood has a Curt Flood-like figure (though the analogy isn’t perfect for a lot of reasons) it’s de Havilland. The law enacted in the wake of her court victory is usually referred to as the “De Havilland Law.”

Must be some good genes in that family - her sister, Joan Fontaine, lived to be 96. They each picked up a pair of Best Actress Oscars.

As a westerns fan, it’s my solemn duty to recommend “Dodge City” and “They Died With Their Boots On”, two of her many pairings with Errol Flynn, as standouts (“Santa Fe Trail” is …ok). There’s also “Captain Blood”, one of the few good pirate films out there, and another re-teaming with Flynn.

Post-war, she seemed to concentrate on psychological thrillers. “The Heiress” was easily the best of those, which she won her second Oscar for. If you only ever watch one of her movies besides Robin Hood or GWTW, make it that one.

Sadly, her career wound down as so many of her peers - bit work in shitty 70’s disaster/animal attack films.

RIP, last of the Hollywood OGs.

I was wondering how long she would live. Pretty amazing that someone with a starring role in movies more than 80 years old was still with us until yesterday.

The Adventures of Robin Hood still rules, by the way. “You speak treason!” “Fluently.”


That was a fantastic movie.

Another way to look at it.
Gone with the Wind was released in 1939.
John Lewis was born in 1940.

Another-nother way to look at it
My birth-day is closer in time to the release of Gone with the Wind than I am now to my birthday.