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.”
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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.