One of the last remaining movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Olivia de Havilland, turns 100 years old today. Best remembered as Melanie in “Gone With the Wind,” she’s one of the few to have won two leading-actress Oscars. Her 1944 lawsuit against Warner Bros. helped bring down the studio system that treated actors as property that had no say in their own careers. WATCH a Clip… (1916)
She played opposite Errol Flynn in 8 films, including “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, earned Academy Awards for “To Each His Own” (1946) and “The Heiress” (1949), and won praise for her portrayal of mental illness in “The Snake Pit” (1948) —see video below. The film led to changes in the conditions of mental institutions in the United States. In 1949, Herb Stein of Daily Variety wrote “Wisconsin is the seventh state to institute reforms in its mental hospitals as a result of The Snake Pit.
De Havilland and her sister Joan Fontaine are the only siblings to have won Academy Awards in the lead acting category. She wrote a book about her Hollywood escapades, and falling in love with a Frenchman, with Every Frenchman Has One.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- The Medicare federal insurance program for health care went into effect in the U.S. (1966)
- The Nuclear non-proliferation treaty was signed by the US, Soviet Union, Britain and 58 other nations (1968)
- East Germany and West Germany reunited, merging their economies under the Deutsche Mark currency, with help from Western countries that granted subsidies to pay bills for the East and ease the deep gap in budgets (1990)
- Vermont’s civil unions law went into effect (2000)
- 500,000 people marched in Hong Kong to protest a new anti-subversion law…. one year later, 530,000 rallied for democratization and universal suffrage (2003)
- For the first time in history, the U.S. Navy promoted a woman, Adm. Michelle J. Howard – also the first African-American – to become a four-star admiral (2014)
And, today is Canada Day, a national holiday celebrating Canada’s founding, and the date in 1980 when the song, O, Canada, became the national anthem. It is also Independence day in Somalia (1960); Rwanda (1962); and Burundi (1962)