Old Hollywood has died: Olivia de Havilland, 104, is gone

To paraphrase Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind: It’s a historic moment. You can tell your grandchildren how you watched Old Hollywood disappear one night.

Olivia de Havilland, the last major star of the Golden Age of movies, has died at age 104.

The legendary actress is perhaps best remembered for co-starring in GWTW, the highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation. But she was much more: a two-time Oscar winner (The Heiress, To Each His Own), three-time nominee, ambassador of culture and champion of actor rights.

In 1943, she won the “de Havilland decision,” which freed performers from restrictive studio contracts and guaranteed them increased negotiating power. And even when she lost, she won victories for actors: Her loss of the supporting-actress Oscar to Hattie McDaniel in 1939 was a monumental moment for Black actors in America.

With de Havilland’s death, Mickey Kuhn, 87, who played young Beau Wilkes, is GWTW‘s last surviving credited cast member. However, 81-year-old Greg Giese (baby Beau and baby Bonnie) is still alive, along with 101-year-old Caren Marsh Doll (a guest at the Wilkes barbecue and the Atlanta bazaar) and about 10 other extras. (Interestingly, Doll was Judy Garland’s stand-in on The Wizard of Oz, making her the last surviving person to have worked on both films.)

Speaking of her character in GWTW, de Havilland said, “There is a special place in my heart for … Melanie. She was a remarkable character – a loving person – and because of that, she was a happy person.”

De Havilland was also remarkable, and loving. And I hope she was happy. Because the world is sad today.

Read more about de Havilland in Variety.

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