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Oscar Winner Olivia de Havilland Dies at 104


Olivia de Havilland, the two-time Oscar winner that starred in such films as Gone With the Wind, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Snake Pit, and The Heiress, has died at the age of 104.As reported by THR, De Havilland, who was the last remaining star of Gone With the Wind, passed away on July 26, 2020, from natural causes at her home in Paris, where she had lived for more than 60 years. Her publicist Lisa Goldberg announced the news.

The legendary star won her best actress Oscar awards for 1946’s To Each His Own and 1949’s The Heiress. Her first Oscar nomination was for supporting actress in Gone With the Wind, but she lost to co-star Hattie McDaniel.

Besides her incredible career in acting, De Havilland also made an even greater impact on Hollywood with what is now known in legal circles as The De Havilland Decision.

In 1943, she came away from the soundstage when she sued Warner Bros. to gain freedom after her seven-year contract had expired.

Back in those days, Hollywood lawyers would say that a contract should be considered suspended when the actor/actress was not working, meaning a seven-year contract would last much longer than that.

De Havilland, took issue when the Warners tried to prolong her contract following her being suspended for rejecting roles she deemed inferior to where she was in her career. She sued the studio and, in 1945, won the case and became free from her contract and ensured that future artists would be limited to the calendar terms of their deals.

“I was deeply gratified when, returning to MGM after his long and distinguished military service, Jimmy Stewart asked the court on the basis of that decision for a ruling on his contract — and thus the contracts of other actor-veterans — and received, of course, a favorable verdict,” de Havilland said in a 1992 interview with Screen Actor.

“When I won the final round of my case on Feb. 3, 1945, every actor was now confirmed as free of his long-term contract at the end of its seven-year term, regardless of how many suspensions he had taken during those seven years. No one thought I would win, but after I did, flowers, letters and telegrams arrived from my fellow actors. This was wonderfully rewarding.”

Olivia Mary de Havilland was born in Tokyo, Japan, on July 1, 1916, and she moved to California with her mother and sister when she was three years old. She went to Mills College in Oakland, and was signed to her first film by Max Reinhardt after performing in a Hollywood Bowl production of Midummer Night’s Dream.

Her sister, Joan Fontaine, was also an Academy Award-winning actress and died in December 2013 at the age of 96.

De Havilland is survived by her daughter, Gisele, son-in-law Andrew, and niece Deborah.

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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

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