Celebrating Seniors – Olivia de Havilland Turns 99 – Pt 2/2
When Warner Brothers told actress Olivia de Havilland in 1943 that an extra 6 months had been added to her 7 year contract because of suspensions for rejecting roles, de Havilland sued (with support from The Screen Actors Guild). The case went to the Supreme Court of California, whose ruling in her favour became known as the “De Havilland Law“. Unfortunately Warner Brothers was not as admiring as her peers and she was blacklisted for a couple of years. Before the blacklisting, she had starred in the WWII movie 1943’s Princess O’Rourke. Below from left, Julie Bishop, Robert Cummings, and Jack Carson hover over Olivia de Havilland in Princess O’Rourke.
(Princess O’Rourke Publicity Photo: Warner Bros. | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
By now a naturalized U.S. citizen, in 1944 Olivia de Havilland campaigned for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s re-election and visited the American WW II troops overseas. Post-war, she joined an advocacy group – the Independent Citizens’ Committee of the Arts, Sciences and Professions – and made speeches in 1946 aligned to the pro-Soviet, Communist Party propoganda. According to de Havilland, she later realized that a small cadre of Communist members were attempting to control the Committee, and started removing the pro-communist content from her speeches, replacing it with anti-communist sentiments. Although she resigned from the Committee when it was clear that it could not be swayed from it’s pro-communist direction, Time magazine castigated her for her involvement in it. 12 years later, she was called before the House Un-american Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1958 to give testimony about her involvement in the Committee.
In 1946 Olivia de Havilland married for the first time and became author and screenwriter Marcus Goodrich‘s fifth wife.
They divorced 6 years later in 1952, after having son Benjamin Goodrich in 1949; strangely, both Benjamin and his father Marcus would later die within three weeks of each other, in 1991.
Olivia De Havilland with son Ben Goodrich circa 1952. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Below, Richard Burton and Olivia De Havilland co-starred in the 1952 film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic gothic romance novel, My Cousin Rachel.
(My Cousin Rachel 1952 Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
In a 2013 interview with Scott Feinberg for The Hollywood Reporter, de Havilland said that after her divorce, she took her young son Ben to the 1953 Cannes film festival and noticed a strange man watching her constantly. Paris Match editor and journalist Pierre Galante finally spoke with her and courted her openly until she agreed to marry him. Upon their marriage in 1955, Olivia moved to Paris, where she lives in the same home today on Rue Benouville near the Bois De Boulogne.
Olivia de Havilland and Pierre Galante’s daughter Gisèle Galante was born in 1956, when Olivia was 40.
Right, Olivia with husband Pierre Galante and newborn daughter Gisèle Galante (b. July 18, 1946). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Although Olivia and Pierre separated in 1962, they remained friends and didn’t divorce until 1979. She helped take care of him when he became ill with cancer (he was living across the street by then), until his death in 1998.
Olivia de Havilland’s 1962 book Every Frenchman Has One is about her adaptation to living in France and the French culture.
In her 50+ and senior years, despite continuing to live far from Hollywood in Paris, Olivia de Havilland was seen in occasional movies and on television. She appeared in The Screaming Woman (1972), a made-for-television movie co-starring Ed Nelson (Peyton Place), Joseph Cotten, and Laraine Stephens.
Her last big-screen movie role was in 1979’s The Fifth Musketeer. As a 70-year-old septuagenarian senior citizen, Olivia de Havilland was nominated for an Emmy and won the 1987 Golden Globe for her television mini-series role as Dowager Empress Maria in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. Below, Olivia de Havilland accepting her Golden Globe in 1987, presented to her by James Brolin and Stephanie Beacham.
Olivia de Havilland’s last role on-screen role as Aunt Bessie in the 1988 television miniseries The Woman He Loved (about the abdication of Edward VIII) resulted in nominations for both an Emmy and Golden Globe Award.
In a 2006 Associated Press interview, de Havilland said that her acting career for the remainder of the 1990’s was limited, as she spent her time supporting her family through illnesses; son Ben died in 1992, ex-husband Pierre in 1998, and daughter Gisele Galante suffered from bouts of depression.
In 2006 as her 90th birthday approached, de Havilland told the Associated Press “I can’t wait to be 90! Another victory!” She went on to say about acting, that “Life is too full of events of great importance. That is more absorbing and enriching than a fantasy life.“
She wasn’t done with acting yet however – in 2009 at 93 years of age, she narrated the Alzheimer’s Disease documentary I Remember Better When I Paint, and presented the film at a special screening in Paris in 2011.
As a nonagenarian senior citizen, Olivia de Havilland has been decorated by the governments of both France (2010 chevalier (knight) of the Légion d’honneur) and the United States (2008 National Medal of Arts).
Right, with President George W. Bush. (2008 Photo: James Kegley / National Endowment for the Arts | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Below, Olivia de Havilland from younger to older, circa 1936, 1948, and 1959.
(Photo Sources: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain | Photo Montage: Senior City)
Happy 99th Birthday, Olivia de Havilland!
More Olivia de Havilland:
Baby boomer Anita Hamilton lives in Hamilton, Ontario with her family and 3 mini-dachshund minions. She’s a lifelong voracious reader who enjoys researching and has extensive experience in sales, marketing and copy writing. Senior City was inspired when she had difficulty finding local housing, products and services online for her elderly parents.