July 1, 2016

Olivia de Havilland is 100 years old today.

She played Melanie in "Gone with the Wind" and won Oscars for "To Each His Own" in 1947 and "The Heiress" in 1950, and she famously feuded with her sister, the actress Joan Fontaine.
"If Dragon Lady were alive today (for my birthday), out of self-protection I would maintain my silence!" she declared, revealing perhaps that not everything has been forgiven.

For her years, de Havilland is in surprisingly good health, and has a keen sense of humor - even calling her interviewer a "rascal" for one too probing question. Though age-related macular degeneration has damaged her vision, the centenarian is still able to read black and white printed text clearly and answer written interview questions.

She climbs stairs regularly every day in her luxurious Paris residence, and linked the secret to her longevity to three L's: "love, laughter, and learning."...
Not only can she still speak, she's wily enough to wield the verb "garner":
"By 1951, television had already made such inroads on the income garnered by motion picture companies that the Golden Era which had prevailed until then was beginning to disintegrate. And by 1953, it had come to an end. Hollywood was a dismal, tragic place....  All the artists I had known during the Golden Era (live) elsewhere... including the after world."

30 comments:

David said...

"She climbs stairs regularly every day in her luxurious Paris residence, and linked the secret to her longevity to three L's: "love, laughter, and learning."..."

Also luck.

May her good luck continue.

coupe said...

I've often wondered why Parisians all don't live past 100. I mean, free health care, cheap transportation, lots of parks.

Having an ulcer in Paris must mean you are stressed by sitting.

chickelit said...

For those of us obsessed with WW I aircraft, she was related to Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, an aircraft designer and founder of the de Havilland aircraft company. The DH.2 was the Porsche/VW of fighter planes with the engine in the rear and a machine gun mounted up front.

dreams said...

"love, laughter, and learning."..."

"Also luck."

Mostly good genes, her sister lived to age 96.

wholelottasplainin' said...

If I live to that age, I plan to attribute my longevity to "Two packs of Camels and a pint of Jack every day, and a new woman every time I can get my hands on one."

p.s. Paris not stressful? After Charlie Hebdo? The car-burning no-go banlieues?

Puh-leeeze!!!

mockturtle said...

Impressive career! I thought Joan was the better actress but Olivia was prettier.

Freeman Hunt said...

I love her, and I love that she, a star of the thirties, is still alive.

Robin Eatmon said...

Lovely to know she is alive and doing well. Happy 100.

Michael K said...

My mother finally gave up martinis at 99. She hated to do it but it was time. She lived to almost 103. She did live in three centuries.

navillus said...

All Olivia de Havilland fans should immediately use the Althouse Amazon portal link to order OdH's hilarious memoir of her married life in France- "Every Frenchman Has One." It's back in print for the first time in years to celebrate her 100th birthday. Reading that book as a youngster of 12 made a lifelong Franco-phile out of me.
In case you're wondering, the organ referenced in the book's title is not the obvious one, but the body part the French really obsess over- the liver.

The Drill SGT said...

She was great in

"The Adventures of Robin Hood"

she did 8 films in 6 years with Errol Flynn

MikeD said...

Navillus, you've got the thread winner!

CatherineM said...

Oh, bless her. I know genes play a role of course, but I agree with her. I think being interested, "learning" is too. I think having a purpose is key. A reason to get up in the morning keeps you going if you beat the degenerative physical diseases or cancer.

My grandma lived to 93 and in her last years (88) started learning golf. Not playing, but watching games, reading about the rules, following the players...she was healthy as a horse (cataract surgery and minor things) until her last three months when her organs began to shut down. Her mind was always engaged until the slow organ shutdown meant a lack of oxygen to her brain.

Also the Queen of England and her husband. Her father and sister died so young from smoking, but she didn't smoke (neither have her mother and husband) and is so engaged and active like her mother. Touring Northern Ireland this week and Scotland next week. Upon meeting some NI minister this week who inquired about her well being she said, "Well I'm not dead." Very funny. Very British.

edutcher said...

A great lady, a great actress, a great beauty, and a great American.

Nothing fits her as well as the last line Errol Flynn spoke to her onscreen,

Walking through life with you, madam, has been a very gracious thing.

Laslo Spatula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laslo Spatula said...

When she was ten if she met a black person in their sixties that same black person could have very well been born a slave.

Things in the Mirror are closer than they appear.

I am Laslo.

dreams said...

I liked her and Errol Flynn in the movie "They Died With Their Boots On." I like the scene where Flynn is on his way to visit Olivia de Havilland but stops at a bar after overhearing some fellow soldiers having a good time. While there he drinks, sings and eats some green onions which is one of his favorite foods before finally arriving at de Havillands house. After Flynn manages to talk his way past her initial feigned resistance, they are getting on well when de Havilland gets a whiff of the green onions smell blurting out before realizing that Flynn is the source so to save him embarrassment she asks a bewildered Hattie Mc Daniel to bring them some of those fresh green onions. She didn't really share Flynn's love of green onions but she had to eat them.

kjbe said...

"Raffles" was on at Dotties, tonight - fun, old movie to watch. This explains why it was on...

edutcher said...

Turner is doing her movies all night long.

Fernandinande said...

The Tucson Desert Museum had a couple named OLivia de Javelina and Gregory Peccary.

William said...

Sibling rivalry doesn't lead to an early grave.......She has quite a distinguished resume, but the movie that springs to mind is Robin Hood. That's up here with Star Wars and Indiana Jones for an adventure flick. She had a benign, quiet presence that made the men on screen next to her look even more swashbuckling. I understand that she's been signed to play Diana Riggs' mother in next season's GOT.

MayBee said...

She has the smallest hands on the Hollywood walk of fame.

Sydney said...

She is still lovely, even at age 100, but it's too bad she can't find it in her heart to forgive her sister. I can understand separating yourself in life from someone who won't give up a grudge, but you can still forgive them and not wallow in hate. Even though her sister is dead, Olivia de Havilland is keeping the grudge alive.

rehajm said...

On a related note the de Havilland Beaver will be 69 in August!
Beaver shot.

MayBee said...

GWTW was about as distant in time from the Civil War as we are from WWII.

Ron said...

If they ever reshoot The Wrath of Khan with two women as the leads, they should model their feud after OdH and Joan Fontaine...."From Hell's Heart I stab at thee"

When Joan finally passed away, I imagined Oliva saying "I Won!"

dreams said...

"When Joan finally passed away, I imagined Oliva saying "I Won!""

Oliva had already won by the birth order, being the oldest child provides an advantage in longevity. Joan Fontaine went though life playing catch-up which usually doesn't ever happen.

Roughcoat said...

No Maid Marian was fairer. Happy birthday, Olivia.

Roughcoat said...

When she was ten if she met a black person in their sixties that same black person could have very well been born a slave.

Closer than you think, Laslo:

I went to school with black kids with grandparents who were born into slavery.

My great-grandfather Billy Burke and four great grand-uncles, all born in Ireland, all fought in the Civil War (Union Army, Illinois volunteer regiments). Three were killed in battle, all were wounded; Billy Burke died young (age 53) due to complications of his wounds, gotten as a Union a cavalryman. His wife, my great-grandmother Lizzie Luttrell, also born in Ireland (Dublin) and came to America before the outbreak of the Civil War, lived to age 99 and attended the wedding of my mom and dad. She passed just a couple of years before I was born.

I remember when the last Civil War veteran, a Union soldier, died (in the 1950s).

I saw, on the 1950s quiz show "I've Got a Secret," a veteran of Custer's 7th Cavalry: his secret was, he fell off his horse and broke his leg the day before the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and was left behind with the baggage, and was thus spared the fate that overtook all of his fellow cavalry troopers.

Our lives pass in the blink of God's eye. The past is not a foreign country, it's the next town over.

traditionalguy said...

Olivia was the only perfect Episcopalian lady in Hollywood history. But her style attracted the men. If I remember, Jimmy Stewart was once her lover.