How Olivia de Havilland Bucked Dalton Trumbo And Helped Save Hollywood From Itself

Somehow, the celebrations of the 101-year-old two-time best actress Oscar winner overlooked her finest moment.

Legendary actress Olivia de Havilland received many tributes when she celebrated her 101st birthday on July 1. Appearing in 49 feature films spanning 1935 to 1988, she was Errol Flynn’s romantic partner in movies like The Adventures of Robin Hood, nominated for a supporting actress Oscar for Gone With The Wind (1935) and was the winner of best actress Oscars for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949). Also noted were her successful efforts to break the old studio system, known as the studio-contract system, where actors were bound to work solely for the company that had signed them.

Chafing against the inferior roles she believed Warner Bros. was giving her, she sued the firm in 1943. It was, The Los Angeles Times noted, a “landmark lawsuit that altered the business of Hollywood forever” resulting in the collapse of the long-term contract system by which Hollywood operated. In her honor, it is referred to as “the De Havilland Law.”

But she received little recognition for the other important political battle she fought and won—ending the alliance of Communists and liberals in Hollywood. During WWII, the United States and the Soviet Union were allies in the war against fascism and liberals and Communists worked together to support the war effort and the Roosevelt administration.

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