Olivia de Havilland, perhaps most well known for her Oscar-nominated performance as Melanie Hamilton in the 1939 silver screen production of Gone with the Wind, died July 26, 2020, at her home in Paris at the age of 104.
Details of de Havilland’s estate have not been released publicly at this point, so it is not yet clear who will inherit her wealth. Her legacy, however, includes more than five decades of stardom. She was linked romantically over the years to Howard Hughes, Jimmy Stewart, and John Huston. Married twice, de Havilland had a son in 1949 (Benjamin) and a daughter in 1956 (Gisele.) Benjamin predeceased his mother in 1991.
In addition to her on-screen roles, de Havilland is also known for her successful lawsuit against Warner Brothers in 1944 for peonage. The California Supreme Court ruled in 1945 that Havilland had honored her seven-year commitment to the studio and was free to pursue other roles. Those roles led to her winning multiple Oscars, despite Warner Brothers claiming that her career would be over if she pursued her suit.
De Havilland had a lifelong feud with her younger sister, Joan, who died in 2013. One anecdote says that de Havilland was tasked with a school assignment to compose her ‘last Will and Testament.’ She reportedly included a line stating “I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister, Joan, since she has none.”
Both Olivia and Joan, also a Hollywood actress, were nominated for Oscars in 1941. To Olivia’s dismay, Joan won the Oscar that year. Joan reportedly boasted about achieving success before her sister in an interview in 1978, saying “I married first, and won the Oscar before Olivia did. And if I die first, she’ll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it.”
While specifics about de Havilland’s estate plan are not known yet, one thing is certain: She was a remarkable woman.
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