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A Celebration of Olivia de Havilland
August 23, 2020  | By Mike Hughes
 


For any Hollywood star, this may be a record: After making her most famous film, Olivia de Havilland lived another 81 years.

She was 23 when she co-starred in Gone With the Wind (1939) as sweet-spirited Melanie, getting an Academy Award nomination; she was 104 when she died July 26.

Today, August 23, highlights of her career will rerun on Turner Class Movies. Many movies will be running throughout the scheduled 24 hours, but her most famous, Gone With the Wind, will anchor the night, from 8 p.m. to midnight ET. (And that's without commercials; this runs three hours, 58 minutes.) That will be followed by the two films she won Oscars for – The Heiress (1949) at midnight, ET, and To Each His Own (1946) at 2:15 a.m. ET.

Ms. de Havilland was featured or starred in nearly 50 feature films in her career (as well as a number of movies and series on TV) that ran the genre gamut.

Ms. De Havilland did something in 1944 that the demure Southern belle, Melanie, would have thought improper – she sued Warner Brothers to escape the final six months of her contract.

"While most stars feared losing their livelihoods, (she) found the courage to sue her home studio," Jeanine Basinger wrote in American Cinema (Rizzoli, 1994). She won a suit that "freed stars from studio bondage."

That doesn't automatically mean she made better choices (or films), but at least she was free to make them.

And her most well-known role of Melanie was an Oscar-winning performance for de Havilland, part of a life filled with rich details.

She was born in Japan, raised (by an English mother) near San Francisco, died in France, but was a person of Hollywood – and the Civil War South, Sherwood Forest, Dodge City, the open seas, and the hearts of millions of fans.

 
 
 
 
 
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