For example, a few who are firmly on my lists of favorites that are (somehow!) not on her’s are Olivia de Havilland, Veronica Lake, Gene Tierney, Ida Lupino, Abbott and Costello, Clint Eastwood, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Lauren Bacall.
There were also a couple of her “absolute favorites” who didn’t quite make my list: Grace Kelly, Laurence Olivier, Myrna Loy, and Ingrid Bergman. Not that I don’t like them, mind you.. .they simply aren’t my favorites. I mean, they can’t ALL be, right??!
Because she is one of my absolute TOP favorites, I had to question her about not listing the beautiful and talented Olivia de Havilland. I had a feeling that I KNEW the reason, but I wanted to interrogate her to be sure. As I’d suspected, she’d only seen her in Gone With the Wind.
That’s the only explanation there could be.
Melanie was a lovely character in one of the greatest movies of all time, but the role did very little to showcase Olivia de Havilland’s talent, beauty, and personality. The same can certainly be said for Leslie Howard as Ashley. The characters of Rhett and Scarlett were written larger than life and they were directed in a manner to loom larger than the rest of the cast – although, in my personal opinion, Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen – along with Clark Gable – were the ones who truly stole the show. Melanie and Ashley were vital to the story but were never meant to outshine the stars.
While their performances were, obviously, wonderful, they didn’t show all they have to offer. This is especially true (in my opinion) with Olivia de Havilland. The actress is a real force to be reckoned with – ironically, she has a great deal of “Scarlett O’Hara” fire in her… certainly more Scarlett than Melanie.
Her personality is as large as her face is beautiful – and that’s saying a great deal.
A few of my favorite Olivia de Havilland roles:
- Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood
- Charlotte Bronte in Devotion
- Rachel in My Cousin Rachel
- Josephine in To Each His Own
- Emmy in Hold Back the Dawn
- Catherine in The Heiress
- Virginia in The Snake Pit
- Okay, so maybe there are too many to name..
I’ll leave you with the same words I left my fellow “Old Hollywood” lover with… If you’ve never seen Olivia de Havilland in anything besides Gone With the Wind, DO SO! She is about as far from Melanie as you can conceivably get. The vast majority of her roles are filled with passion, fire, personality, and fun. To give you an idea of the type of personality we’re talking about here, when she was nine years old, Olivia made a will in which she stated, “I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister Joan, since she has none”.
Wonder what Melanie would think about that?!
Facts About Olivia de Havilland:
- Born in Tokyo, Japan on July 1, 1916.
- Sister of actress Joan Fontaine.
During a time when women “simply did not” make waves, she did just that. She took Warner Brothers to court in the mid 1940s and won. Her victory stopped Warner Brothers from adding suspension periods to actors’ contracts. The “de Havilland decision” meant more freedom for actors in Hollywood and she is remembered for her boldness to this day.
In 1965 she became the first female president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival.
She made a special appearance at the The Academy Awards in 2003 and received a standing ovation.
- Won the Oscar for Best Actress for To Each His Own in 1946.
- She and Joan Fontaine were the first sisters to win Oscars.
Her mother named her Olivia from a heroine in William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”.
- She received the Medal of Arts honor from President George W. Bush in 2008, “for her persuasive and compelling skill as an actress in roles from Shakespeare’s Hermia to Margaret Mitchell’s Melanie. Her independence, integrity, and grace won creative freedom for herself and her fellow film actors.“
- Was offered the role of Mary in It’s a Wonderful Life but turned it down.
- In 1950, she won the Best Actress Academy Award for “The Heiress.”