The end of an era: Remembering Olivia de Havilland, the last star of Hollywood’s Golden Age
On Sunday, July 26, cinephiles everywhere mourned the death of Olivia de Havilland, the 104-year-old stalwart and last surviving mega-star of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Perhaps made most immortal through her role as Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind, de Havilland’s work in 49 feature films throughout her career took her on a journey from stylish starlet to respected powerhouse, eventually earning nominations for five Academy Awards and winning Best Actress twice for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949), respectively. Before her death, she was the oldest-living Academy Award winner, trailing a lifetime of real-life romances and on-screen partnerships behind her (becoming especially well-known for her frequent casting alongside Erroll Flynn), a legacy of fighting for actors’ rights under the oft-restrictive reigns of studio heads, and remnants of a feud between her and her sister, fellow Oscar winner Joan Fontaine.
A familiar storyline in the age of high glamour and studio contracts, one firsthand account of Hollywood competition came to us at inRegister in 2017, when writer Taris Savell traced the tumultuous history of the Baton Rouge-shot Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte and the fraught relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, a dispute which eventually led to de Havilland replacing the latter in the film’s final form.
So another great has left us. Here at inRegister, it got us thinking: who are some of our other favorite leading ladies once linked to the stories and sets of our state? Maybe Geraldine Page opposite Clint Eastwood in the original 1971 version of The Beguiled? Bette Davis in The Little Foxes (which merits another shooting location shoutout to Baton Rouge)? New Orleans-born Patricia Clarkson in the 2006 adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men? Or maybe it’s the witchy duo of Jessica Lange and Angela Bassett in the NOLA-set American Horror Story: Coven.
What’s your favorite Olivia de Havilland role? And what stars do you see following in her footsteps? Let us know in the comments below.