Over the weekend, Golden Age movie star Olivia de Havilland passed away at the age of 104. The two-time Best Actress Oscar winner’s career spanned 5 decades and impacted the worlds of film, television, and theatre. De Havilland gave stunning performances in films like “The Heiress,” “The Snake Pit,” and “To Each His Own,” but possibly her most famous role is as Melanie Hamilton in 1939’s “Gone with the Wind.”
The photo above shows (left to right) Olivia de Havilland, Susan Myrick, and Vivien Leigh on the set of “Gone with the Wind.” Susan Myrick was a dialect coach who was hand-picked by “Gone with the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell to assist the film’s stars with their Southern accents. Above, Myrick is seen instructing De Havilland and Leigh, who both had British roots, in order to improve the authenticity of their Southern speech.
Vivien Leigh played leading lady Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind.” Her performance as the spoiled Southern belle catapulted her to fame and earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Leigh’s other notable credits include 1951’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which she starred in alongside Marlon Brando, 1940’s “Waterloo Bridge,” and 1941’s “The Hamilton Woman.” Leigh died in 1967 as a result of tuberculosis.
Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland held each other in high regard. In a 2006 interview, De Havilland recalls what it was like to work with Leigh on “Gone with the Wind:”
“Vivien [Leigh] was just a marvel,” De Havilland gushes. “She was a hard worker, highly professional (…) she was fabulous.”
When the world lost Olivia de Havilland, it lost its last true link to Hollywood’s Golden Era. Nonetheless, the work of Leigh and De Havilland will remind future generations of the Golden Era’s splendor, significance, and timeless style. Their names are eternally engraved in the history of cinema and their legacies will endure for years to come.