Today we're wishing a true Hollywood great, and one of the original ladies of the Golden Age of Hollywood—Olivia de Havilland—a happy 99th birthday!
Born July 1, 1916, in Tokyo to English parents, de Havilland and family moved to California along with her younger sister, Joan Fontaine (yes, that Joan Fontaine!), in 1919—though her father eventually relocated back to England. Her mother Lillian was an actress and though she retired from the profession upon becoming a mother she continued to impress upon her daughters the importance of the fine arts and acting by teaching them Shakespeare and music.
Olivia made her screen debut in the Oscar-winning 1935 "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with James Cagney and Dick Powell, where she played the role of Hermia. Along with the role she earned a coveted seven-year contract with Warner Bros.
The studio soon paired her with one of the leading men of the day—Errol Flynn—and it was onscreen magic. Her first screen appearance with Flynn was in the 1935 adventure drama "Captain Blood," which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The pair went on to shoot eight pictures together.
Of course, de Havilland is probably best known for her role as Scarlett O'Hara's soft-hearted cousin Melanie Hamilton in "Gone with the Wind." Though it is not without controversy for its sympathetic view of the Antebellum South, it is one of the most popular and profitable movies of all time. It is #4 on the American Film Institute's Top 100 films and will no doubt continue to inspire filmmakers for generations to come.
Her career continued to thrive after "Gone with the Wind" and de Havilland went on to make films and television appearances into the 1970s and '80s. Having had a full and successful career, the actress eventually retired to Paris. Take a look through this photo gallery for an even closer look at Olivia's life and film career in photos.