Olivia de Havilland: the lady who challenged the Hollywood Star System

I bet those people who love movies definitely already saw the classic movie ‘Gone with the Wind’ leading by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. Though this movie ran 3 hours 40 minutes, I believe that I am not the only one to see this movie for more than one time.

The love story between Scarlett and Rhett could not be more tortuous; however, any of you remember Melanie? To be honest, I cannot even recall my memory of the character named Melanie at the first time.

Melanie played by Olivia de Havilland

The character of Melanie in the movie is always kind, generous and positive, it is said that good character setting will never be going to be stand out, that might be the reason Scarlett seems more popular as she always goes to the opposite direction.

As a matter of fact, Olivia de Havilland, who played the Melanie is a ‘fighter’ in the real life, she is the first person who challenged the so-called ‘Hollywood Star System’.

Olivia de Havilland

What is the ‘Hollywood Star System’? As a matter of fact, ‘Hollywood Star System’ still exist, but more flexible nowadays. However, back to the Classic Hollywood period, actors were nothing but property of studios. As soon as you signed the contract, you have to play all the characters you been told, and most of the time, in order to maintain their personas, they always been told to play the similar characters, not only in the film but also extended to their private life.

Olivia de Havilland

Many of top stars would like to take over the control, but they were all failed. Until 1943, Olivia de Havilland, who continually refused the roles assigned to her by Warner Brothers. When she has been asked to add extra 6 months to her contact, she is not only refused but also sued the studio.

Olivia de Havilland

As you already know, she won. She indeed became the first person legally beats the studio and cracked the ‘Hollywood Star System’. Her trial also contributes to the new ‘De Havilland Law’ (aka De Havilland decision) which is the informal name of California Labor Code Section 2855. Though the price was she did not show up in any movies for 2 years.

However, everything was worth for it, and surprisingly, her career did not end because of no exposure during the trial. She was nominated for Academy Awards for 5 times and Golden Globes for 3 times, and she won 2 Oscars as well as 2 Golden Globes all after the historical change.

Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland

Olivia de Havilland is the pioneer, she might be the lucky one, but I can image that she must have the extreme courage to make the decision. After all, back to that time, if she failed, she might never get any chance to go back to the big screen again.

The 100-year-old lady was born in Tokyo, pursued her career in Hollywood, and now living in Paris.

Recently, a new show Feud: Bette and Joan will be on-air at FX on 5th of March, Catherine Zeta-Jones plays this legend lady in the show, though this character is not the leading role, still worth to see a tough woman who is not only survived but shined in the rough time.


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