Olivia de Havilland, the dogged Oscar-winning actress and last surviving star of Gone With the Wind who feuded with sister Joan Fontaine, and bucked the old Hollywood studio system, died in her sleep at the weekend, according to Entertainment Weekly. She was 104.
The star’s former lawyer, Suzelle M. Smith, said in a statement, “Last night, the world lost an international treasure, and I lost a dear friend and beloved client. She died peacefully in Paris.”
A fighter to the end, de Havilland marked the day before her 101st birthday with a lawsuit: On June 30, 2017, she sued FX and producer Ryan Murphy over her depiction in the Emmy-winning backstage docudrama series Feud: Bette and Joan. In 2018, the California Court of Appeal of the Second District ruled against de Havilland, and her attempt to appeal the decision was declined.
During a screen career that endured for more than 50 years, de Havilland won two Best Actress Oscars, her first for 1947’s To Each His Own and then for 1950’s The Heiress.
De Havilland and Fontaine, a Best Actress winner for 1942’s Suspicion, are the only siblings and sisters in Oscar history to have each claimed a statuette in the lead-acting categories.
De Havilland was nominated for a total of five Academy Awards. Other notable credits include The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Snake Pit.
Her most famous screen performance was as the unwaveringly good Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. Released in 1939 when de Havilland was just 23, the Civil War epic won eight Oscars and reigned as the all-time box-office champ for more than 25 years. When its grosses are adjusted for inflation, the movie remains Hollywood’s top money-maker, though this year it has been at the center of controversy regarding its depictions of slavery and now comes with a disclaimer on HBO Max.
Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Leslie Howard, whose characters along with de Havilland’s comprised Gone With the Wind’s central love quadrangle, all passed away decades ago. The other featured members of the cast are gone, too, including Hattie McDaniel, who beat out de Havilland for the 1939 Best Supporting Actress Oscar.