A boyhood crush passes away

Many great people have died in the past week, Congressman John Lewis, leading the pack through his advocacy and courage. Yet, someone this old fart had a crush on passed away over the weekend – Olivia de Havilland. Here is a brief snippet (courtesy of Wonderwall) of an article that tells more about her to those with whom her name is not familiar.

“Olivia de Havilland, an icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age and the last living star of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ has died at 104. The five-time Oscar nominee, who twice won the Academy Award for Best Actress, passed away “peacefully” in her sleep at her home in Paris, her publicist announced on Sunday, July 26. De Havilland became a household name after starring alongside Errol Flynn in films including 1935’s ‘Captain Blood’ and 1938’s ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’ As she took on more serious roles, like that of a patient at a mental institution in ‘Snake Pit’ (1948), awards poured in for the actress. That continued through the end of her career and included a National Medal of Arts honor in 2008. Shortly before her 101st birthday, Queen Elizabeth named the star a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. De Havilland was also known for a long-running feud with her sister, actress Joan Fontaine, and for her historic 1943 court victory over Warner Bros., in which Hollywood’s unfair suspension clause was deemed unlawful.”

While she won her two Oscars for Best Actress in “The Heiress” and “To each his own,” this young boy remembers de Havilland for her work with Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood” and as Maid Marian in “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” She said in an interview, she was smitten with Flynn, but never acted on it. This is apparent when Flynn’s Robin Hood climbs up to her room and her Maid Marian blushes way too easily. For little boys, we were Errol Flynn, and she was the object of our affection.

While she is best known for playing Melanie in “Gone with the Wind,” she won her awards when she demanded better parts. However, playing Melanie was so well done, I remember my mother saying how she did not like how Melanie’s husband Ashley Wilkes treated her. Melanie deserved better than the wishy-washy Wilkes’ inattentiveness. De Havilland made us pull for Melanie even more. Please note, I am setting aside the disservice this movie did for how it portrayed slaves.

I recognize fully de Havilland is not a John Lewis or a CT Vivian. But, for this grown-up boy, she will forever be the woman blushing in the window with Robin Hood.

6 thoughts on “A boyhood crush passes away

  1. Note to Readers: Even though Errol Flynn’s merry men wore cheesy costumes, as a boy, it remains my favorite Robin Hood. Kevin Costner did not measure up, nor did Russel Crowe, although that version was good with such a great cast. Cary Elwes starred in a Mel Brooks’ spoof called “Robin Hood, Men in Tights” which was funny. And, there have been a couple of TV shows that were pretty good. I recall one with Sean Connery playing an aged Robin Hood and I think HBO had a series that was good.

    The scenes I remember most about the de Havilland/ Flynn version is what I mention above and when Flynn comes across the real King Richard.

  2. As soon as I saw the title of this post, I knew it would be about Olivia de Havilland. Believe it or not, I never knew she and Joan Fontaine were sisters! She was, indeed, one of the great actresses of her time!

    • Jill, I did not either until I saw a lead-in by Robert Osborne before the movie “Rebecca” which starred Fontaine. I agree on your assessment. Plus, she has some good genes to live to 104. Keith

      • When I was telling my daughter that Olivia had died, she asked how old she was. I replied “104!!!” And it started me thinking how amazing that is, and also … that I don’t really want to live to 104! Not that I’m likely to, being a heavy smoker and having numerous health issues, but … I think there comes a point where the body is just too worn out for life to have much quality left.

      • Jill, most people that live into their nineties are in better health than those who are destined to pass in their eighties. It may be genes, body shape, exercise, eating habits, being ambulatory, having mental acuity, etc. or all the above. And, they need not be teetotalers, as some drink a glass of something (or two) a day. Stop smoking, though, as that causes most of my father’s woes. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: Last night, the movie “Captain Blood” was on. When the station put Olivia De Havilland’s dates of birth and death, it struck me she was only 18 when this movie was filmed.

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