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.