Olivia de Havilland was one of the most famous names of Classical Hollywood, as shown by her numerous awards and accolades for her acting. Currently, her name has been in the news because she is suing the people behind Feud: Bette and Joan for a dramatization that she sees as having crossed the line, which could have an impact on docudramas as a whole. Here are five things that you may or may not have known about Olivia de Havilland:
Born in Japan
Both De Havilland and her sister were born in Japan. In fact, their parents met in Japan, where their father served as an English professor at the Imperial University in Tokyo. When De Havilland and her sister were still children, her mother persuaded her father to bring them back to England because the two were not faring so well at the time.
Raised in California
With that said, the family never managed to make it to England. Instead, they stopped in the state of California because De Havilland had to be treated for her tonsillitis. Later, when De Havilland’s sister managed to develop pneumonia, their mother made the decision to settle in a place called Saratoga, which is situated to the south of San Francisco. In contrast, their father abandoned them before returning to Japan, where he got married to his Japanese housekeeper.
Became an Actress Because of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
De Havilland wanted to become an English teacher. However, she ended up becoming an actress instead because of the Shakespearean play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For those who are curious, what happened was that she was offered the position of second understudy of Hermia for a production of the play that would be premiering at the Hollywood Bowl. When both the actress and the first understudy left the production no more than a week before the play was supposed to start, De Havilland was chosen to play the part, which led to her involvement in the subsequent tour as well as the subsequent movie.
Both She and Her Sister Have Won Oscars for Lead Acting
Although she is not so well-known in modern times because of her age, De Havilland was nonetheless one of the most celebrated actresses of her time, as shown by the fact that she has won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Lead Role not once but twice. However, it is interesting to note that her sister Joan was a celebrated actress, as shown by the fact that she has won the same award. In fact, it is interesting to note that the two are the sole set of siblings to have won Oscars for leading roles so far.
The Sisters Were Rivals
Speaking of which, De Havilland and her sister Joan were rivals, which seems to have started up when the two were still children. For example, De Havilland had problems accepting the idea of a sister when she was still a child. Likewise, her sister Joan was troubled by her belief that De Havilland was their mother’s favorite child. In later life, this resulted in a number of incidents when either one sister or the other would spurn the other in some manner, which in turn, led to periods of estrangement. Still, De Havilland’s reaction to her sister’s passing in 2013 makes it clear that she did care about her in her own way in spite of their contentious relationship.