Saturday, July 2, 2011

what olivia de havilland means to me

Yesterday Olivia de Havilland celebrated her 95th birthday. I still don't know as much about her as I would like. Word on the street is she's a pretty snazzy lady. What I do know is what she came to mean to me as a kid.

I wish I could put my fedora just so over one beguiling eye and claim that I first knew Olivia de Havilland from Adam in that obscure number on the bottom shelf of filmlandia. That one with the cobwebs all over it and a big red warning sign reading 'insiders only.' But I can't. I'm left standing out in the cold with all the other mugs in line for Gone With the Wind.

Without getting all slobbery let's just say there was a time when I needed a role model.  That time happened to coincide with the year I was taken to a theatrical screening of Gone With the Wind during its re-release in 1998. I was awed. And in it I felt I had found a like soul. Not in that flame thrower Scarlett O'Hara but in her counterpart, Melanie Hamilton.

Yes, that pale faced, mealy mouthed Melanie Hamilton. She was the quiet strength and compassion that found me when I needed to know how to act like a grown up. And I can't even begin to describe the impact.

For me Olivia de Havilland is quite simply the power of film.


  1. This post made me so happy! :-)

    Olivia is quite the awesome lady!

  2. Olivia de Havilland had guts!She took on the might of Hollywood studios to fight for vdecent roles for women & the right to choose! She won it too, so todays female actors owe her hugely.
    I have the most beaituful handwritten Oliva letter written to me when I was 16 & I still treasure it. Shes one of a kind and many many happy returns Olivia- a true aristocrat! xx

  3. I am ever so glad, Miss Millie. She is she is indeed.

    Chrissie-That is so wonderful that you have a letter from Olivia! Thank you for sharing. About the only major thing I know about Olivia is that case, and I'm also very interested in the labor resistance that came before (bette davis, for example) but for such a gutsy lady and such a long life imagine there is more to her that I'll have to delve into at some point.

  4. Olivia de Havilland is amazing. That face! I just love watching her movies so much. This piece you wrote about what she means to you is so sweet.

    P.S. I love this site and your amazing Olivia de Haviland tumblr:) xx

  5. Thanks for the kind comment, Ashley! She's wonderful. Though I fear you have me confused with someone else re: an Olivia de Havilland specific tumblr, unless my secret twin is in charge of it. I wouldn't want to take credit when someone else deserves it.

  6. I'm going to need her to live forever. Seriously.

  7. From your mouth to God and/or Louis B. Mayer's ears, whoever has the higher authority.

  8. Awww, Livvie!! I love that lady so much, both as a person and as an actress. I was so taken by her sweetness and charm--she really made us feel like she loved us, even though we had only just met her! She held my hand and looked right into my eyes and was just a wonderfully open human being. I adore her. Don't ever change, Olivia!!

  9. Lara I'm still so in awe that you were able to meet her, and so happy for you. What a memorable experience to take with you your whole life.