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Olivia de Havilland

by Academy of Achievement

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An illustrious star of Hollywood's Golden Age, Olivia de Havilland made her screen debut at 19 and soon became the screen's favorite romantic heroine, starring in a popular series of adventure films with leading man Errol Flynn, including such favorites as Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Charge of the Light Brigade. She made movie history with her unforgettable performance as the selfless Melanie in Gone With the Wind, often voted the greatest movie ever made. Her long struggle with the studio system to gain better roles for herself, and fairer treatment for actors generally, culminated in a landmark court decision, which liberated actors from onerous long-term contracts and opened the door to a new era of artistic freedom in cinema. Her experiences visiting traumatized soldiers during World War II led to a serious interest in mental health issues. Her performance in the film The Snake Pit exposed the shocking conditions prevalent in many mental institutions in the United States and led to widespread reform of mental health practices. She won Best Actress Oscars for her moving portrayals in To Each His Own and The Heiress. In a brilliant cinematic career spanning more than four decades, her beauty and intelligence charmed her first audiences; her courage and eloquence inspire new generations wherever her films are shown.

Olivia de Havilland
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