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Olivia de Havilland dies at 104

Updated 3:28 PM ET, Sun July 26, 2020
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Olivia de Havilland remains one of the last survivors of Hollywood's glamorous heyday of the 1930s and '40s. The star celebrates her 100th birthday on Friday, July 1. De Havilland, the personification of kind and genteel ladies in the movies, initially wanted to be a schoolteacher. But she began acting professionally at 18 and enjoyed a career that spanned from the mid-'30s to the late '80s. Here, in an uncharacteristic pose, she relaxes at home with a cigarette and beer in the early 1940s. Bob Landry/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
The actress was born Olivia Mary de Havilland on July 1, 1916, to British parents who were living in Tokyo. With Japanese nurses in attendance, she appears here with her father, patent attorney Walter Augustus de Havilland, and her mother, Lillian, circa 1917. Her parents' marriage grew strained, and soon her mother left Japan and settled in Saratoga, California, to raise Olivia and her younger sister, Joan. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
De Havilland caught the acting bug in school plays as a teenager. She made her film debut as Hermia in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1935) after appearing in a successful production of the play at the Hollywood Bowl. Warner Bros. quickly signed the young actress to a film contract. De Havilland warmly recalled working with Mickey Rooney, left, who played Puck in the film. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The actress appeared in two other movies before "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was even released, but she shot to stardom in her fourth film, "Captain Blood" (1935), a swashbuckling adventure with Errol Flynn. The two became one of the great romantic screen teams of the 1930s and '40s, starring in eight films altogether. The actress later admitted to having a crush on her handsome co-star, but she refused to succumb to his roguish charms. Archive Photos/Getty Images
De Havilland was Maid Marian to Flynn's outlaw from Sherwood Forest in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), a rollicking film that was perhaps their most memorable together. By now, however, the actress was growing bored with decorative roles that required little acting ability. "They Died With Their Boots On" (1941), about George Custer, would be the last of the de Havilland-Flynn pairings. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Most actresses were dying to play Scarlett in the film of Margaret Mitchell's best-seller, "Gone With the Wind," but de Havilland, center, had her eyes on Melanie. The actress pushed for Warner Bros. to loan her out to producer David O. Selznick for his 1939 epic. She received the first of five Oscar nominations, losing to co-star Hattie McDaniel, left, as best supporting actress, while Vivien Leigh, as Scarlett, took home the best actress award. De Havilland recently told Vanity Fair that McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar, "was the best" and "it was wonderful that she should win." Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images
Back at Warner Bros. after "GWTW," de Havilland had to play second fiddle to Bette Davis, left, in "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" (1939). The two actresses would become good friends, and Davis hailed de Havilland's court victory against Warner as a major win for actors. The studio tried unsuccessfully to extend de Havilland's seven-year contract, but the courts ruled in her favor. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
De Havilland's contentious relationship with her younger sister, Joan Fontaine, right, no doubt wasn't helped when the latter became an actress, too. Fontaine, who died at 96 in 2013, took home an Oscar first for "Rebecca," beating out her older sister in 1941. Their sibling rivalry was one of Hollywood's most famous feuds. Silver Screen Collection/Moviepix/Getty Images
De Havilland was off the screen for nearly three years while she battled Warner Bros. After winning her court case, she was free to chart her own career and scored her first Academy Award in "To Each His Own" (1946), here with Bill Goodwin. The part required a greater range from her than earlier roles as she matured from a young unwed mother into a older career woman. Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images
De Havilland almost always played sympathetic parts, but her dual roles as twins in the thriller "The Dark Mirror" (1946) proved to be an exception. Lew Ayres, center, was a psychiatrist trying to figure out which twin was a disturbed murderess. ullstein bild/Getty Images
The actress, far left, appears in the winners' circle with Harold Russell, Cathy O'Donnell and Anne Baxter at the Academy Awards in 1947. De Havilland won for "To Each His Own," while Russell picked up the best supporting actor Oscar and an honorary award for playing a disabled veteran in best picture winner "The Best Years of Our Lives," featuring O'Donnell as his girlfriend. Baxter, right, was best supporting actress for "The Razor's Edge." Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Hollywood began to tackle more serious subjects in the post-World War II era, and de Havilland's role in "The Snake Pit" was a prime example. She played a young woman who is committed to a mental institution after spiraling into illness. The demanding role proved de Havilland had become one of Hollywood's top dramatic actresses by the late '40s. Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images
Perhaps de Havilland's finest hour on the screen came with her second Oscar-winning role, Catherine Sloper in "The Heiress" (1949), from a play based on Henry James' novel "Washington Square." Initially awkward and shy, her character turned the tables on her cold, unloving father (played by Ralph Richardson) and a fortune-hunting suitor (Montgomery Clift). John Springer Collection/Corbis/Getty Images
Richard Burton made his American screen debut with de Havilland in the film version of the Daphne du Maurier mystery "My Cousin Rachel" (1952). The actress was effective in an atypical and ambiguous role: Was she a sympathetic heroine or an unscrupulous killer? Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images
The actress left Hollywood behind when she married Paris Match editor Pierre Galante in 1955. The two had a daughter, Gisele, and eventually divorced in 1979. De Havilland's son from an earlier marriage, Benjamin Goodrich, died in 1991. Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images
The star's career began to wind down after the 1960s, but she occasionally returned to Hollywood, appearing in such all-star disaster flicks as "The Swarm" (1978), pictured here, and "Airport '77" (1977). She also turned to television, receiving an Emmy nomination for one of her last appearances, "Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna" (1987). Warner Bros. Entertainment/Getty Images
De Havilland joined the parade of older stars who made guest appearances on the popular ABC TV series "The Love Boat." Here, she appears with series star, Gavin MacLeod, right, and Joseph Cotten in a 1981 episode. The actress earlier had starred with Cotten in "Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964). ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images
The two-time Oscar winner introduces other former acting winners at the Academy Awards in 2003. De Havilland is one of only 13 actresses who have won two or more best actress Oscars. A.M.P.A.S./Getty Images
U.S. President George W. Bush presents de Havilland with the National Medal of Arts at the White House in November 2008. The star was recognized "for her lifetime achievements and contributions to American culture as an actress." JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
De Havilland and fellow actress Jacqueline Bisset receive the Legion of Honor, one of France's top awards, at the Élysée Palace in Paris in September 2010. The "Gone With the Wind" star has called the French capital home for six decades. ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images