Olivia de Havilland, Classic Film and 'Gone With the Wind' Star, Dead at 104

Academy Award-winning actress Olivia de Havilland reportedly passed away on Saturday at the age of 104. De Havilland was known for a number of classic movie roles in her time, including playing Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind. Her passing was confirmed by her publicist, Lisa Goldberg, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

De Havilland died peacefully in her sleep of natural causes, Goldberg said. She was at her home in Paris, where she has reportedly lived for over six decades, despite her deep roots in the American entertainment industry. The actress has a long and remarkable legacy in Hollywood, spanning changes to the medium of filmmaking itself, as well as tectonic shifts in the industry behind the scenes. Through it all, she remained a pillar of the industry, known for her strong principles and for fearlessly speaking truth to power.

De Havilland is best-known to fans for roles in classic films of the 20th century, such as Melanie in Gone With the Wind, or Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood opposite Errol Flynn. She also starred in The Heiress as Catherine Sloper, and in The Snake Pit as Virginia Stuart Cunningham.

Others may remember de Havilland for her transition to TV acting starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She won a Golden Globe Award for her starring role in the TV movie Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. However, even by then, she spent most of her spare time in Paris, France, living as privately as possible. De Havilland's last credited on-screen role was in 1988.

Off-screen, de Havilland was fiercely political in a time when movie stars could face serious consequences for being too outspoken on hot-topic issues. A self-identified liberal, she condemned communism and any Communist party sympathy in Hollywood, though this was not enough to protect her from McCarthyism. She worked with other civic-minded entertainers like Groucho Marx, Bette Davis, Gregory Peck and Humphrey Bogart, but she actively denounced any Communist Party material in their work together.


In 1958, de Havilland was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in secret and asked to recount her experiences working with other entertainers and organizers. "I realized a nucleus of people was controlling the organization without a majority of the members of the board being aware of it. And I knew they had to be Communists," she recalled in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

De Havilland is survived by two children, both adults living between France and the United States. As news of her passing spread, she received a number of glowing tributes on social media. Her sister and fellow actress, Joan Fontaine, died Dec. 15, 2013.