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Olivia de Havilland Turns 100: How ‘Gone With the Wind’s’ True Rebel Fought the Studio System and Won

30 June 2016 2:11 PM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

July 1 marks the 100th birthday of Olivia de Havilland, an actress who made Hollywood history in more ways than one. She is best remembered as Melanie in the 1939 “Gone With the Wind,” as well as her roles opposite Errol Flynn, including “The Adventures of Robin Hood”; she’s also one of the few to have won two leading-actress Oscars.

But her influence on the movie industry goes far beyond that: She helped bring an end to the studio system, thanks to her landmark lawsuit against Warner Bros. in 1944.

The actress had made her film debut in 1935, at age 19, in a version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that starred James Cagney and Mickey Rooney. Eventually WB signed her to a seven-year contract, which was the standard for studios when they wanted to hold onto actors.

The studio suspended her seven or eight times for refusing to play certain roles. When de Havilland’s contract expired, »

- Tim Gray

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