Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland dies at age 104

By Zach Harper

Olivia de Havilland, one of the last stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, has died at age 104. The two-time Oscar winner passed away at home in Paris in her sleep.

Olivia was born in Tokyo to British parents in 1916. Her sister, the actress later known as Joan Fontaine, was born there a year later. The family returned to England after World War I, but later relocated to San Francisco.

Olivia and Joan are still the only siblings to ever both win leading actress Oscars, though their relationship was strained.

Olivia began acting when she was a teenager, making her debut in a Saratoga Community Players production of Alice in Wonderland and school productions of The Merchant of Venice, Hansel and Gretel and Pride and Prejudice. She intended to begin a career as a school teacher, but destiny called in 1934, when Austrian director Max Reinhardt visited California in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She went on to sign a film contract with Warner Bros., making her debut in the 1935 screen adaptation of the Shakespeare play.

She soon found work with James Cagney in The Irish in Us that same year and Captain Blood alongside Errol Flynn, who was then unknown actor. By 1937 she had achieved a starring role in Call it a Day, and starred with Bette Davis in It's Love I'm After that same year.

Olivia with Errol in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Photo: © Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

By the end of the 1930s, she was a major star, appearing with Errol again in The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938 and landing her most well-known role in Gone with the Wind a year later. She received her first Oscar nomination for the part.

Further work followed with Errol and Bette in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex before working with Ronald Reagan on Santa Fe Trail. She continued to work with Errol and Bette through the Second World War. In 1947, she won her first Oscar for To Each His Own. Her second followed just two years later for her acting in The Heiress opposite Montgomery Clift.

Olivia with both of her Oscars. Photo: © Mondadori via Getty Images

In the '50s, she relocated to Paris, where she married Pierre Galante, the editor of Paris Match. She gave birth to a daughter named Gisele, her second child, in 1956, and returned to the screen two years later. She began to move into stage work in 1962 after separating from Pierre, and made her final film appearances in 1964's Lady in a Cage and Hush... Hush, Sweet Caroline the same year.

The late 1960s and 1980s saw her career branch out into television. She played the Queen Mother in the 1982 TV film The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana and appeared in ABC's North and South, Book II. She had another turn as a royal in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, in which she played Dowager Empress Maria, Tsar Nicholas II's mother. She won a Golden Globe Award for her work.

Olivia as the Queen Mother in the 1982 TV movie The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana. Photo: © Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images

She not only had an interesting, rich, full life, but she dated many interesting people, as well. Her loves included aviator Howard Hughes, James Stewart and film director John Huston, along with her first husband, author and journalist Marcus Goodrich. They had a son together, Benjamin, and divorced in 1953.

After retiring in 1989, Olivia was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen, becoming the oldest woman ever to receive the honour. Throughout her career, she received more than a dozen honours.

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