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Olivia de Havilland, ‘Gone With the Wind’ star, dies at 104

Olivia de Havilland, lone survivor of the top stars of the movie "Gone With the Wind," speaks to a crowd attending a 1967 screening of the movie. She called it a "joyful reunion." The movie first premiered in Atlanta Dec. 15, 1939.
Olivia de Havilland, lone survivor of the top stars of the movie "Gone With the Wind," speaks to a crowd attending a 1967 screening of the movie. She called it a "joyful reunion." The movie first premiered in Atlanta Dec. 15, 1939.

Oscar-winning actress Olivia de Havilland, the last surviving major star from the 1939 film “Gone With the Wind,” has died at age 104.

She died Saturday in Paris of natural causes, said her New York-based publicist Lisa Goldberg.

>>RELATED: A detailed appreciation of de Havilland’s career, written largely by former AJC movie reviewer Eleanor Ringel Cater

De Havilland, more than eight decades ago, played the kind, mild-mannered Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in “Gone With the Wind,” receiving an Academy Award nomination for supporting actress.

Her film and TV career spanned more than six decades and she was considered one of Hollywood’s biggest stars during that era. In 1946, she won an Academy Award for best actress for 1946′s “To Each His Own,” and a second in 1950 for “The Heiress.”

De Havilland sued Warner Bros. in the early 1940s over onerous contract restrictions. Warner Bros. tried to extend her contract for refusing to take on roles. She ended up winning, a ruling now known as the “de Havilland law.”

“Gone With the Wind,” based on the Margaret Mitchell novel of the same name, is considered the most popular motion picture of all time in America when box office grosses are adjusted for inflation. The $400 million it grossed in theaters at the time would be adjusted to more than $3.4 billion in 2020 dolllars. The film is now available on HBO Max streaming service with an introductory commentary by Turner Classic Movies host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart providing historical context.

Stewart noted that the movie “presents the antebellum South as a world of grace and beauty without acknowledging the brutality of chattel slavery upon which this world was based.”

>>RELATED: Olivia de Havilland in photos over the years

Her last appearance in Atlanta was in 1967 for a special screening of “Gone With the Wind.” She was given an extended standing ovation at the 2003 Oscars and received a National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush in 2008. In 2017, de Havilland sued the producers of the FX series “Feud: Bette and Joan” for a negative depiction of her but the case was ultimately dismissed.

De Havilland, who quietly lived out her final decades in France, is survived by her daughter, Gisele Galante Chulack, her son-in-law, Andrew Chulack, and her niece, Deborah Dozier Potter.

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