Golden Age star Olivia de Havilland died in her sleep last night at her home in Paris, it has been announced, thus closing a chapter of Hollywood that reached back to the early days of the talkies. She first caught the eye of audiences in A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1935, her third appearance, the same year she appeared in Captain Blood with her most enduring leading man Errol Flynn.
Hugely popular as a team, she would star with him seven more times, in films like The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Adventures of Robin Hood (she played the screen's greatest Maid Marian, no pushover but a forthright and dynamic presence), Dodge City and They Died With Their Boots On. Amid this she was the most successful film of all time, Gone With the Wind, and other hits like The Great Garrick and The Strawberry Blonde.
But in the mid-1940s, she found herself in a legal dispute that many predicted would end her career as she fought to get out of an unfair contract at Warner Bros. She won in a landmark decision that has benefited talent to this day, and after three years triumphantly returned to the screen in hits like To Each His Own (winning her first Oscar), The Dark Mirror (as twins), The Snake Pit (a sympathetic portrayal of mental illness), The Heiress (winning her second Oscar in one of the all-time great Golden Age performances) and into the 1950s and 60s with My Cousin Rachel, Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte, Lady in a Cage and television work.
She began to lose the acting bug around this time, and appeared in soapy would-be blockbusters like The Adventurers, Airport 77 and The Swarm before winding down her career in the 1980s. As much a source of fascination for her demure reticence about Flynn as she was for her supposed rivalry with star sister Joan Fontaine, her very longevity won her continued interest. One of the greats has finally left us, her ability in a variety of roles securing that status.