Born on July 1, 1916 in Tokyo, Japan, Olivia de Havilland turned 104 in 2020! As the daughter of English actress Lilian Fontaine, Olivia always had a strong interest in drama and theatre starting from the 1920s...
Olivia de Havilland: The beginnings
Although born in Japan, her family moved near San Francisco while she and her sister, Joan Fontaine, were just young girls. Their father eventually decided to move back to Japan to be with his housekeeper. While Lilian would later re-marry, she was still a strong mother to both Olivia and Joan and taught them Shakespeare plays before they were even teens!
Olivia always participated in her school plays and made her big break when she was discovered by Austrian director Max Reinhardt after finishing high school. On November 12, 1934, she had signed her first contract with Reinhardt and Warner Bros. Studio - a beginning weekly salary of $200.
Olivia made her film debut in 1935 with Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream. For the remaining 1930s, she starred in over 15 films, including Captain Blood, Call It a Day, Dodge City, and Gone With the Wind. She received her first Academy Award nomination for her supporting role in Gone With the Wind.
The 1940s proved to be an incredible decade for Olivia: she won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for the film, To Each His Own (1946). Additionally, she won the same award for the 1949 film The Heiress, as well as her first Golden Globe Best Actress award for the same film.
In 1949, Olivia married screenwriter Marcus Goodrich, and she had her first child with him. The pair would later divorce in 1953.
By 1955, she had met her second husband, French journalist Pierre Galante, with whom she also had a child. De Havilland and Galante were married up until their divorce in 1979.
Olivia de Havilland: Retirement and death
By 1988, Olivia de Havilland appeared in her final screen performance, The Woman He Loved. She retired after this role but did narrate the 2009 documentary I Remember Better When I Paint.
On September 9, 2010, she was honored with the highest decoration in France: the Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. She had also already received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame years before, on February 8, 1960.
The famed actress was more recently honored with Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017. Olivia de Havilland lived in Paris, France up until her death on July 26th, 2020 at the age of 104.
Here's a list of other memorable feature films Olivia starred in:
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
- Devotion (1946)
- The Snake Pit (1948)
- My Cousin Rachel (1952)
- The Ambassador's Daughter (1956)
- Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
- The Adventurers (1970)
- The Swarm (1978)