Hollywood lost one of its true legends over the weekend: Olivia de Havilland, the two-time Oscar-winning star of classic films like Gone with the Wind and The Adventures of Robin Hood, died at 104.
In her old age, the actress was the last living major star of Hollywood’s golden age. She was the oldest living Oscar winner and nominee.
De Havilland first gained fame in the 1930s as one of Hollywood’s top ingénues, memorably starring in swashbuckling adventure films opposite Errol Flynn, including the classics Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood.
She finished the decade with perhaps her best-remembered role: Melanie Wilkes in the classic Gone with the Wind, often ranked as one of the best Hollywood films of all time and, adjusted for inflation, still the highest-grossing film ever made.
As the kindhearted best friend and confidant to Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara, de Havilland provided the heart of the film, giving a classic performance that earned her her first Oscar nomination.
But her other biggest contribution to Hollywood came off screen: in 1943, she sued Warner Bros. over the terms of her exclusive contract, wanting the freedom to pursue roles with other studios.
She won the lawsuit, striking a blow on behalf of actors and reducing the control the studio system had on them. To this day it’s known as “The de Havilland Law.”
It also meant de Havilland was able to break her ingenue stereotype at Warner Bros and pursue more dramatic roles, which paid off: She received two Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role, for 1946’s To Each His Own and and 1949’s The Heiress, among other honors.
In 1960, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2008 she was honored with the National Medal of Arts.
De Havilland made her last screen appearance in 1988, but survived as one of the last members of classic Hollywood.
She passed away on Sunday at the age of 104. Hollywood paid tribute to the legend and her incredible career.
Actress Jane Seymour recalled working with her on a film, calling her “larger than life” and “a brilliant actor.”
And one of the most personal tributes came from an unlikely source: actor Jared Leto, who recalled meeting de Havilland in Paris and discussing how the actress’ legal victory impacted his own career.
“I thanked her for her bravery and shared how her choices affected me and my brother,” Leto wrote on Twitter.
And fans even honored de Havilland with tributes on her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
What an extraordinary life and career. Rest in peace to a true Hollywood legend! Share this story with your favorite memories of Olivia de Havilland.
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