Interview with Olivia de Havilland

The Independent newspaper in the UK published a fascinating interview with Olivia de Havilland earlier this month – I’ve just belatedly caught up with it and am passing on the link for others who had missed it. She says quite a lot about her feelings for Errol Flynn.  Apparently she is hoping to have a first draft of her autobiography finished by September.

The headline is slightly misleading, as it claims she is the last of the 1930s Hollywood legends, whereas in fact there are one or two others still alive, including, of course, her sister, Joan Fontaine – Olivia refused to make any comment in the interview on their famous feud.

StrawberryBlonde4

I actually came across this interview via scarlettohara.org, a blog about Gone With the Wind and Vivien Leigh, so will pass on the link to that too. Since this post is about Olivia de Havilland, I can’t resist including a picture of her with James Cagney from The Strawberry Blonde, which is one of my favourite movies – and yet another one I really want to write about…

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19 thoughts on “Interview with Olivia de Havilland

  1. Love the new look to your site. Very nice!

    Thanks for the link to the Olivia de Havilland interview. Olivia and sister Joan, Maureen O’Hara, Shirley Temple and Gloria Stuart and Luise Rainer (both will be 100 next year) are among the very small group of actresses from the ’30s who are still alive. I wish I could add Jane Bryan to the list (she was in EACH DAWN I DIE, MARKED WOMAN and A SLIGHT CASE OF MURDER, among other movies), but sadly, she died just a few months ago.

    THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE is one of my favorite Cagney movies. As good as Cagney is, Olivia steals the picture!

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    • Thank you, I’m glad you like the new look. I’m interested to hear about the actresses who are still with us – another actress whose career started in the 1930s and who is still alive is Joan Leslie – another leading lady who played opposite Cagney, when she was just a teenager, though that was in the 1940s, in ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’, as I know you will know.:)

      I’m not sure which actors from the 1930s are still alive – Mickey Rooney, of course, and there must be some of the other child stars of the time who are still with us.

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  2. Lovely redecorating here Judy! Great color coordination and typography!

    Well, it’s always interesting to read about Olivia, and as she rarely gives interviews, it even more riveting when you can have her reflect on her life. Of course the one issue (above all others) that we would want to know something about is her multi-decades long estrangement from her sister Joan Fontaine. I can’t say how much I have researched on that eternally fascinating gossip, but like so many it has always hooked me. But the scars there are deep, and as your interview established, she agreed to the interview under the condition that Joan not be brought up. Professional jealousies and family slights are at the root of the sustained animosity it seems.

    Of course there is much here that is still engrossing, including her lifelong love for Errol Flynn. I do look forward to this autobiography. Her finest performance? Well, it’s one of the ones of course that is provided at the bottom of the interview–her Oscar winning turn in THE HEIRESS. But ROBIN HOOD, TO EACH HIS OWN and Melanie in GWTW rank highly. This is a fabulous subject for a post.

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    • Thank you for the kind comments and encouragement, Sam. I must admit that WordPress do all the site design (well, except for the header). I just picked the theme off the shelf, so to speak.

      In all honesty, I hadn’t even realised until recently that Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine were sisters – it seems sad that they have had such a long estrangement, but I suppose the world may never learn the reason why, unless of course de Havilland sheds any light on it in that projected autobiography. In any case, I would certainly look forward to learning more about her career and her memories of all the greats she worked with over the years.

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  3. Judy,

    I almost wrote a follow up comment last night when I remembered the gracious Joan Leslie. We’re on the same track. How fun!

    You know, Mickey Rooney is the only surviving male actor from the ’30s I can think of. That’s a good question—are there any other male stars alive from that time? It would be interesting to know if there are any others. HAGD!

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    • Thanks! I’ve been racking my brains, and the only other one I’ve come up with is Jackie Cooper, who was the youngest ever nominee for best actor Oscar at the age of nine. I’m sure there must be other male actors from the 1930s still alive, but I suspect not many, if any, leading men, since they tended to be quite a bit older than the leading ladies.

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  4. Judy – thanks for sharing the article. Thanks to the internet, items like this can be shared with people no matter where they live. Here is this fancinating article and one I certtainly would have missed if it were not for you and the internet. Of course, you also get to “meet” people with like minded interest. Thanks for sharing and the new look is great.

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    • Thank you, John – glad to have found this article and to be able to share it! I do agree it is a big advantage of the internet that we can “meet” and chat to people who share similar interests – I very much doubt I’d meet anyone else who likes classic films in “real life”. I’m also glad you like the new look.

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  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much for posting this! I can’t tell you how excited I was to find this! If it hadn’t been for your blog I would never have known that finally, FINALLY, we can expect the grand lady’s autobiography! I’ve linked your story to my site–the world must know!!

    :)

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    • Thank you Kitty, and sorry to be slow in replying, but I’m on holiday at the moment and only have occasional internet access! I’m looking forward to the autobiography very much too.:)

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  6. When I first clicked here, I thought I’d come to the wrong blog, but then when I read the text I knew it was you. I no longer remember the previous one (how easily things get erased in our minds), but this one is lovely.

    Now I didn’t know Olivia de Haviland and Joan Fontaine were sisters either. To understand them it seems one must look to parents then, for it’s unlikely both did well without some connections. I don’t see anything on wikipedia or elsewhere which tells so I suppose both have been intensely discreet. Fontaine was in _Letter from an Unknown Woman_ as well as the first _Jane Eyre_ and _Rebecca_. De Haviland tended to play the virtuous types, but I remember her from _The Heiress_ (based on James’s Washington Square) where she was much more ambivalent.

    The GWTW site seems to me sheer fandom and too much effort to sift to get any worthwhile insight or information but that’s what happens when one is caught up in a cult.

    I’ve never seen _Strawberry Blonde_. He looks petulant in the still and she the generous mother-woman comforting him :).

    Sorry it’s taken so long for me to catch up here.

    Ellen

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    • Dear Ellen, in haste, thanks for commenting. ‘The Strawberry Blonde’ is a lovely movie, one of my favourites – Cagney is actually tired from overwork rather than petulant in that still and yes, de Havilland is comforting him. I’d like to see more of both de Havilland and Fontaine’s films.

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  7. I just simply adored “Strawberry Blonde”….didn’t realize until recently that Olivia played lead opposite Mr. Cagney..Would Jeannie Cagney be considered a star of the 30’s. Does anyone know if she is still with us? She played opposite her brother in “Yankee Doodle Dandy”…..another classic. I just watched Ms. Olivia in “Hush,Hush, Sweet Charolette”(?) last night. I can remember going to the theater to see that one. I am a big fan of the ol’ classic’s. You just can’t help but fall in love with “Ms. Melanie” in GWTW.. A TRUE CLASSIC

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    • Hi Sandee, thanks for commenting! Just checked at the imdb and I’m afraid Jeanne Cagney died in December 1984, a little over a year before James. I don’t think she ever got star billing but I agree with you she was a fine actress – if you get a chance to see ‘A Lion is in the Streets’, I think she’s brilliant in that, again opposite her brother. The funny thing is that I had failed to look at the credits and forgotten she was in it – they don’t look as alike as usual in this movie, as she is dark-haired and slim in it and he is heavier than usual. Then, in a key scene, I started wondering who the actress was who had the same kind of burning intensity as Cagney, and had to laugh when I realised the answer! On Olivia de Havilland, I really like her in all the films I’ve seen her in and would like to see more of them.

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  8. She is amazing! One of my favorite actress. Was doing her on what she is doing today and learned she is the narrator of a 2009 documentary – take a listen on this youtube trailer to the film:

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  9. In talking about actresses working in the 30s that are still alive why is Deanna Durbin not mentioned. She was probably the biggest star of all with the exception of Shirley. Deanna is still with us at 88.

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  10. I m glad that Olivia is alive.I thank her for her role on “Gone with the Wind”. She is a very
    good actress. May our God of the Heaven and Earth bless her….

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