“Gone With the Wind” star Olivia de Havilland, considered the last surviving actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood, died on Sunday at the age of 104, the Hollywood Reporter said.
She died of natural causes at her home in Paris, where she had lived for more than 60 years, it said, citing her publicist.
De Havilland’s acting career included two Academy Awards, a victory over Hollywood’s studio system and a long-running feud with sister Joan Fontaine that was worthy of a screenplay.
She first drew attention by playing opposite swashbuckling Errol Flynn in a series of films starting in the 1930s and made an enduring impression as the demure Southern belle Melanie in “Gone With the Wind” in 1939.
Later she would have to fight to get more challenging roles – a battle that ended up in court but paid off with Oscars for “To Each His Own” in 1946 and “The Heiress” in 1949.
De Havilland, a naturalized American who was born to English parents in Japan, had lived in Paris since 1953. She made few public appearances after retiring but returned to Hollywood in 2003 to take part in the 75th Academy Awards show.
De Havilland’s family moved to California when she and Joan were children. She began her movie career after director Max Reinhardt saw her in a California production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and cast her in his 1935 film version of the play. Warner Bros. was impressed and, as was the custom at the time, signed the teenager to a seven-year contract.
Warners loaned her out to make “Gone With the Wind” in 1939 and de Havilland’s gentle but willful personality helped make the role of Melanie one of the movie’s most intriguing parts. The role earned her the first of her five Oscar nominations.
“I felt very drawn to Melanie,” de Havilland later said. “She was a complex personality compared to the heroines I’d been playing over and over.”
“Gone With the Wind,” which also starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, won eight Academy Awards, including best picture.