Grace and Serenity: Olivia de Havilland's Battle to Defy Hollywood Stereotype

Updated on January 11, 2020
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Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 12 years.

Two time Academy Award winner who always displayed a level of dignity

Even when her characters were becoming emotionalky unhinged onscreen

Always managed to show a level of class and elegance wherever she was

On the big and small screens; of course in real life as well

Loved to go against the grain when it came to her working life

Managed to get out of her film contract with Warner Bros studios

Through legal action, perseverance and a unique talent

Forced into various work suspensions by Jack Warner to prolong it

Found a way to stand her ground and managed to work on her terms

Made moviegoers tempted to root for Melanie over Scarlett in Gone With the Wind

Displayed a quiet femininity that offset Vivien Leigh's combustible character

Worked with the likes of Errol Flynn and as his romantic foil for countless films

Paired up with the ever so talented Bette Davis onscreen four times

Was considered to be a good friend of hers off-screen as well

Played the titular character in My Cousin Rachel who managed to charm

Even the most hesitant of costars in Richard Burton on camera of course

Who knows what it truly was like behind the scenes

Had a very complicated relationship with her sister Joan Fontaine

A fellow actress and Academy Award winner in her own right

Hollywood Press liked to play up a rumor that there was a rivalry between them

Hard to say if there was one, but the relationship remained complex at best

Until the day Fontaine died in 2013 and put an end to all of it

Never deemed appropriate to discuss private family matters

In past and in today's times as well; although some love to air theirs everywhere

A sense of oversharing that many could relate to, but left little mystery

She preferred to have more mystery than to be a complete open book

Displayed a level of integrity that allowed her to control her career

Chose when to work and what films to be in

Also, when it step back and let others have their time in the spotlight

Might have been by choice or by societal circumstances

Could have been a combination of the two

Stellar scripts with top notch roles often dried up when actresses

Hit a certain number in their age in Hollywood

An unfair stereotype that only women in their youth were interesting

That their stories stopped needing to be told after they reached 40

Oh well, nevertheless Olivia has lived the life she wanted to live off-camera

In the City of Lights: Paris where she remained to this day

Living longer than her counterparts at the age of 103

Defying the odds and still having plenty of stories to tell

Just her own this time.

de Havilland strikes a memorable pose.
de Havilland strikes a memorable pose.

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