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Olivia de Havilland Torrent

Olivia Mary de Havilland was born to a British patent attorney and his wife on July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan. Her sister, Joan, later to become famous as Joan Fontaine, was born the following year. Her parents divorced when Olivia was just three years old, and she moved with her mother and sister to Saratoga, California. After graduating from high school, Olivia enrolled in Mills College in Oakland. At Mills, she participated in the school play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and was spotted by Max Reinhardt. Reinhardt was so impressed that he picked her up for both his stage version and the Warner Bros. film version in 1935. Greatly impressd, Warner executives signed her to a 7-year contract. Olivia appeared in 3 more films: The Irish in Us (1935), Alibi Ike (1935) and Captain Blood (1935), the latter with Errol Flynn. He and Olivia starred together in 8 films during their careers. In 1939 Warner Bros. loaned her to David O. Selznick for Gone with the Wind (1939). Playing the sweet Melanie Hamilton, Olivia received her 1st nomination for Best Supporting Actress, only to lose out to co-star, Hattie McDaniel. After GWTW, Olivia returned to Warner Bros. In 1941 she played Emmy Brown in Hold Back the Dawn (1941), which resulted in her 2nd Oscar nomination, now for Best Actress. Again she lost to her sister Joan for her role in Suspicion (1941). After that strong showing, Olivia now demanded better, more substantial roles than the "sweet young thing" slot into which Warners had been fitting her. The studio responded by placing her on a 6-month suspension. As if that weren't bad enough, when her contract was up, she was told that she would have to make up the time lost for the suspension. She sued the studio, and for the length of the court battle didn't appear in a single film. In a landmark decision, the court said not only that Olivia did not have to make up the time, but that all performers were to be limited to a seven-year contract that would include any suspensions handed down. This became known as the "de Havilland decision". In 1946, Olivia made up for lost time by appearing in 4 films, one finally won her an Oscar: To Each His Own (1946). Olivia was the strongest performer in Hollywood for the balance of the 1940s. In 1948 she starred in The Snake Pit (1948). The end result was another Oscar nomination for Best Actress, losing to Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda (1948). She made only one film in 1949, but she won a nomination and the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Heiress (1949). After a 3-year hiatus, Olivia returned to star in My Cousin Rachel (1952). From that point on, she made few appearances on the screen but was seen both on Broadway and in some television shows. Her last screen appearance was in The Fifth Musketeer (1979), and her last career appearance was in the TV movie The Woman He Loved (1988). During the hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of GWTW in 1989, she graciously declined requests for all interviews as the only surviving one of the four main stars. Today she enjoys a quiet retirement in Paris, France.
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