By: LUCHINA FISHER, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Olivia de Havilland, the last living star from the epic film Gone with the Wind and the oldest living actor to have received an Academy Award, has died.
The two-time Academy Award winner died “peacefully from natural causes on July 26 at her residence in Paris, France,” her publicist, Lisa Goldberg told Good Morning America.
She was 104 years old.
De Havilland was best known for playing the role of Melanie “Mellie” Hamilton in the Civil War drama — a role that her younger sister Joan Fontaine had reportedly turned down and suggested go to de Havilland instead. After appearing in Gone with the Wind in her early 20s, de Havilland went on to star in dozens of movies and TV shows.
She was often paired with Errol Flynn, starring opposite him in eight films, including, Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade and The Adventures of Robin Hood.
De Havilland won two Oscars, for 1946’s To Each His Own and 1949’s The Heiress, making her and her sister Fontaine the only siblings to have won lead acting Academy Awards (Fontaine won for 1941’s Suspicion). The reported rivalry between the sisters, born 15 months apart, was considered something of Hollywood legend.
Olivia Mary de Havilland was born July 1, 1916, in Tokyo to British parents. Her parents, Lilian Augusta, a former actress, and Walter Augustus de Havilland, an English professor and patent attorney, divorced when de Havilland was three, and she moved with her mother and sister to Los Angeles.
Both sisters expressed an interest in acting but de Havilland broke into the business first after she was spotted in a community production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She later appeared in the Warner Bros. film version of the play and was signed to a seven-year contract with the studio. De Havilland famously challenged the rules of the studio system in court and won, changing the way performers were treated thereafter.
She made her final appearance on camera in the 1988 TV movie, The Woman He Loved, before stepping away from the spotlight and enjoying a quiet retirement in France.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.