Born Olivia Mary de Havilland in Japan on July 1, 1916. Her father was a British patent attorney working in Tokyo at the time of her birth. Three years later, in 1919, her parents seperated and Olivia's mother moved to Saratoga, California with Olivia and her younger sister - who would also gain fame as an actress (Joan Fontaine).
Olivia was involved in her high school dramatic club, which lead to her discovery by a talent scout working for director Max Reinhardt. She was cast in Reinhardt's Hollywood Bowl pageant production of A Midsummer Night's Dream which led to her first film role as Hermia in the 1935 Warner Bros. film adaptation of the play. Olivia at that point decided to turn down a college scholarship and sign a seven year contract with Warner Bros. at the age of nineteen.
de Havilland considered herself to be a classical actress and tried to turn down numerous roles offered to her by the studio. She had little interest in the artless, innocent young girl roles she was becoming frequently cast in. It was not until 1939, when Warner Bros. loaned her out to David O. Selznick for Gone With The Wind, where she potrayed Melanie Wilkes, that she received her first Oscar nomination. Upon her return to Warner Bros. she became disenchanted with the fact that the studio continued to refuse to grant her more substantial acting roles. When better roles continued not to come from Warner, even after her Best Actress nomination for the film Hold Back The Dawn, for which she was loaned out to Paramount, she started refusing parts and often received suspensions from Warner Bros. for her refusals.
de Havilland made three more films for Warner Bros. before announcing in 1943 that her contract with Warner Bros. was complete. When the studio opted to add six months to her contract due to the time she spent on suspension, an eighteen month legal battle followed. During that time she was not permitted to work in Hollywood. Her victory in the fight resulted in what is known as the "DeHavilland Law" which effectively prohibited studios from arbitrarily or otherwise unfairly extending the contract time of their contractees.
At the end of the legal battle, Olivia began to freelance in an effort to land more challenging acting roles. In 1946 she earned a Best Actress Oscar for her role as an unwed mother in To Each His Own. She would be nominated in 1948 for playing a mental patient in The Snake Pit and would win her second Oscar in 1949 for her role in The Heiress.
Her later roles would be more challenging, and sometimes controversial, but her films would be lesser in frequency. In 1964, she would appear in two significant films, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte with Bette Davis and the controversial Lady In A Cage which was all but condemned in the United States and banned in England due to its subject matter, which dealt with a woman trapped in an elevator who goes to the brink of total madness.
As for 2001, she is alive and living in Paris. She was married twice, and in 1989 was the only member of the cast of Gone With The Wind alive for the 50th Anniversary of the film. She turned down almost every request to be part of that particular circus.
I do confess that years ago in my youth I developed an obsession with Olivia de Havilland after seeing her numerous times on the UHF dial in any of her nine films with Errol Flynn. I hope this makes up for the impure thoughts I was having at the time.