Olivia de Havilland: Career Highlights Of The 104-Year-Old Actress

Olivia de Havilland at the Academy Awards in 1946. She received the Best Actress in a Leading Role award for the film To Each His Own
July 1, 2020 - 12:00 / Cynthia Springer

Olivia de Havilland has been the recipient of multiple Academy and Golden Globe Awards throughout her lifetime. At age 104, de Havilland is one the last actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. Read more on Olivia de Havilland's impressive career right here!

Born on July 1, 1916 in Tokyo, Japan, Olivia de Havilland is turning 104 this year! As the daughter of English actress Lilian Fontaine, Olivia always had a strong interest in drama and theatre starting from the 1920's...

Olivia de Havilland: The beginnings

Although born in Japan, her family moved near San Francisco while she and her sister, Joan Fontaine, were just young girls. Their father eventually decided to move back to Japan to be with his housekeeper. While Lilian would later re-marry, she was still a strong mother to both Olivia and Joan and taught them Shakespeare plays before they were even teens!

Olivia always participated in her school plays, and made her big break when she was discovered by Austrian director Max Reinhardt after finishing high school. On November 12, 1934, she had signed her first contract with Reinhardt and Warner Bros. Studio - a beginning weekly salary of $200.

Olivia de Havilland in the film Call It a Day (1937)

Olivia made her film debut in 1935 with Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream. For the remaining 1930's, she starred in over 15 films, including Captain Blood, Call It a Day, Dodge City and Gone With the WindShe received her first Academy Award nomination for her supporting role in Gone With the Wind. 

The 1940's proved to be an incredible decade for Olivia: she won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for the film, To Each His Own (1946). Additionally, she won the same award for the 1949 film The Heiress, as well as her first Golden Globe Best Actress award for the same film. 

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In 1949, Olivia married screenwriter Marcus Goodrich, and she had her first child with him. The pair would later divorce in 1953. 

By 1955, she had met her second husband, French journalist Pierre Galante, whom she also had a child with. De Havilland and Galante were married up until their divorce in 1979. 

Olivia de Havilland and her second husband, French journalist Pierre Galante (1909 - 1998) with their newborn daughter, Gisèle, in Paris, 23rd July 1956

Olivia de Havilland: Retirement and today

By 1988, Olivia de Havilland appeared in her final screen performance, The Woman He Loved. She retired after this role, but did narrate the 2009 documentary I Remember Better When I Paint.

On September 9, 2010, she was honored with the highest decoration in France: the Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. She had also already received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame years before, on February 8, 1960.

Olivia de Havilland arrives at the 36th French Cesar film awards ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet on February 25, 2011 in Paris, France

The famed actress was more recently honored with Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017. Today, Olivia de Havilland currently lives in Paris, France. We wish all the best in her life and health!

Here's a list of other memorable feature films Olivia has starred in: 

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  • Devotion (1946)
  • The Snake Pit (1948)
  • My Cousin Rachel (1952)
  • The Ambassador's Daughter (1956)
  • Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
  • The Adventurers (1970)
  • The Swarm (1978)