Olivia De Havilland DBE was a major movie star in a career that spanned five decades. She was born in Tokyo where her father was an English Instructor at Imperial University. Olivia’s paternal cousin was Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, an aircraft designer and founder of the de Havilland aircraft company. She appeared in 49 feature films, and was one of the leading actresses of her time. She was also one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood Cinema, until her death in 2020. Her younger sister was actress Joan Fontaine.
De Havilland first came to prominence as a screen couple with Errol Flynn in adventure films such as Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). One of her best-known roles is Melanie Hamilton in the film classic Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she received her first of five Oscar nominations, the only one for Best Supporting Actress.
De Havilland departed from ingénue roles in the 1940s and later received acclaim for her performances in Hold Back the Dawn (1941), To Each His Own (1946), The Snake Pit (1948), and The Heiress (1949), receiving nominations for Best Actress for each, winning for To Each His Own and The Heiress. She was also successful in work on stage and television.
De Havilland lived in Paris since the 1950s, and received honors such as the National Medal of the Arts, the Légion d’honneur, and the appointment to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
In addition to her film career, de Havilland continued her work in the theater, appearing three times on Broadway, in Romeo and Juliet (1951), Candida (1952), and A Gift of Time (1962). She also worked in television, appearing in the successful miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations (1979), and Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986), for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Movie or Series. During her film career, de Havilland also collected two New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, and the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup. For her contributions to the motion picture industry, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.