Actress Olivia de Havilland died on Sunday at the age of 104 at home in her adopted home of Paris, France. The British-American film actress, born in Tokyo, Japan on July 1, 1916, was the last survivor of the legendary acting team from the classic film “Gone with the Wind” (1939). After this extraordinary professional success, de Havilland and the other stars of the film met very different fates.
Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland (1916-2020) not only became a legend because she survived all other “Gone With The Wind” actors for many years. As early as 1935 she had made a name for herself as a love of canvas by Errol Flynn (1909-1959). To get the role of Melanie Hamilton in “Gone with the Wind”, de Havilland had to team up with the wife of studio boss Jack Warner (1892-1978) so that she could shoot for the competitor Selznick International. She later freed herself from the gag contract with Warner in court, thus strengthening the actors’ labor rights.
While she went away empty-handed despite being nominated for best supporting actress in the Oscar round for “Gone with the Wind”, she later won two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes. From the 1950s, de Havilland gradually withdrew from the film business, but always had well-regarded roles and became the first female jury president of the Cannes Film Festival in 1965. De Havilland retired to Paris with her husband Pierre Galante (1909-1998).
Leading actress Vivien Leigh (1913-1967) is probably the most tragic figure from the “Gone with the Wind” cosmos. The actress of Scarlett O’Hara repeatedly struggled with depression and chronic tuberculosis. “Gone with the wind” meant the breakthrough in Hollywood for the British, but in 1940 she returned to England with her second husband (1940-1960), actor Laurence Olivier (1907-1989), where she appeared at the theater and in the UK Productions such as “Caesar and Cleopatra” and “Anna Karenina” participated.
It wasn’t until 1951 that Leigh celebrated another Hollywood success with “Endstation Sehnsucht” alongside Marlon Brando (1924-2004), with which she won another Oscar. Her psychological problems made it increasingly difficult for her to shoot at all and ended her marriage to Olivier. On July 7, 1967, Leigh died at the age of 53 of her tuberculosis disease, which had been recurring since the 1940s.
Clark Gable (1901-1960) was already a superstar when he took over the part of the Rhett Butler. Already in 1935 he had won his first Oscar as the best leading actor, in “Gone with the Wind” he went away empty-handed. In 1942, Gables’ third wife, actress Carole Lombard (1908-1942), died during a war bond promotional tour in a plane crash. Gable volunteered for the military after the funeral and served as a gunner for a B-17 bomber until the end of the war.
For a long time after the war he was unable to build on his previous success. A final highlight was the film “Misfits – Not Sociable”, in which he played alongside Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) the aging cowboy Gay Langland – Gables, in his opinion, his best performance since “Gone with the Wind”. Unfortunately, he no longer saw how the film came to the cinemas: Gable died of a heart attack on November 16, 1960, at the age of 59, shortly after filming ended.
In the role of the slave Mammy, Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952) wrote an important piece of film history: in 1940 she received the Oscar for best supporting actress as the first black actress. At the ceremony, however, she and her companion had to sit at their own table separately from the other stars of the film.
Afterwards, McDaniel mostly played similar roles as a servant or housekeeper, for which she was often sharply criticized by representatives of the civil rights movement. One of her most famous films after “Gone with the Wind” is the Disney musical “Uncle Remus’ Wonderland”. McDaniel died of breast cancer in 1952 at the age of 57.
In “Gone with the Wind” George Reeves (1914-1959) had only a small role as Scarlett’s admirer Stuart Tarleton. Only later did he start with a completely different part: From 1952, Reeves, as the hero of the legendary “Superman” series, became one of the first stars of the TV era. Unfortunately, he was so committed to the superhero that he hardly found any other roles afterwards.
Reeves died on June 16, 1959, three days before his wedding, from a bullet wound under mysterious circumstances. Officially, his death was declared suicide, but theories still exist that it could have been an accident or even murder.
Character-rich supporting actors were always in demand in Hollywood. In 1939, Thomas Mitchell (1892-1962) not only played Scarlett’s proud father Gerald O’Hara, but was also involved in four other classics: “Mr. Smith goes to Washington”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” , “SOS fire on board” and “Ringo”. In 1940 he received the Oscar for best supporting actor for the latter.
With the TV series “The Doctor” and the musical “Hazel Flagg” he became the first actor ever to have an Oscar and an Emmy and Tony Award. Mitchell died of cancer on December 17, 1962 at the age of 70.
Harry Davenport (1866-1949), the actor of Dr. Meade, on the set of “Gone with the Wind”, was awesome treated by his colleagues as a living legend. As a member of an actor family, Davenport first appeared on a theater stage in 1871 at the age of five. After a successful Broadway career and some roles in silent films, Davenport ventured to restart in Hollywood after the death of his wife at the age of 68 in 1934.
He once hated it when men his age would lie on his lazy skin. Davenport died of a heart attack on August 9, 1949, at the age of 83, shortly after speaking to his agent about a new role. In his obituary, he was recognized for the longest acting career in US history.