Editors note: Olivia de-Havilland sadly died on 26th July 2020 only a few weeks after her 104th birthday, but leaving a beautiful legacy in stage and film. The last of a golden era in film. Vale Olivia.
100 years young.
Olivia de Havilland, one of the last Hollywood actress from the golden era of the motion picture in America. The 30’s 40′ and 50’s. Born on July 1st, 1916 in Tokyo, Japan to English parents Lilian and Walter de Havilland. In 1917 Olivia’s mother persuaded her husband to move back to England. But it was a journey that would be interrupted.
Young Olivia fell ill on the ship, giving the family cause to stop over in San Fransico to provide the vulnerable infant time to recover when her sister Joan also took ill with pneumonia. Two sick children were enough for their parents, Lilian and Walter, to decide on staying in sunny California for a time. However, an already troubled marriage soon ended, and Walter returned to Japan to marry the housekeeper. As they say, the heart wants what it wants and, Olivia and Joan were raised as naturalised Americans by their mother.
I remember seeing Olivia presenting at The Oscar’s back in 2003. At the time she would have been a mere 86 years. Age had not detracted from her beauty, grace and poise, uniquely Olivia. Her serenity seemed to come naturally.
Of course, I know not if this was the case in her personal life, as it’s no secret she had a life-long feud with her sister Jane Fontaine and took aim any chance she could. Maybe, that’s her secret, not to bottle up any pent up emotions. I don’t know.
Two-time Oscar winner.
Both Olivia and Joan went on to become film actresses, with Olivia signing to Warner Bros. in 1937. A year later, Olivia absconded her contractual obligations to play alongside Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in perhaps her most remembered role as Melanie, in Gone with the Wind to which she was nominated an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1940. Olivia didn’t win, but the trajectory of this star was well and truly in motion.
Olivia was nominated by the Academy four more times for best actress. Winning twice in leading roles for her performance in, To Each His Own in 1947 and The Heiress in 1950.
In 1953 at the invitation of the French Government, Olivia travelled to attend the Cannes Film Festival where she met her future husband, Pierre Galante. He at the time was the executive editor for the journal Paris Match. They married in 1955 and had a child together, Giselle Galante. Olivia has lived on in Paris ever since.
Olivia de Havilland in pictures, celebrating 100 ageless years.
When someone reaches the grand age of 100, we all marvel at how they made it. For me, what seems particularly marvellous about Olivia de Havilland is not the turning 100 (although that’s inspiring), but it’s her demeanour of elegance and grace. The featured image of this article is a testament to that. How spectacular she looks in profile.
I ponder, perhaps Olivia is so beautiful at 100, because she always was, and lived her life as that Hollywood Movie Star. Real or not, she remains one of the last from an era of authentic beauty and glamour. We could all live with just a little more glamour, couldn’t we?
It’s the never giving in or giving up that I love about her—a true Hollywood legend.
See you next time,