Olivia de Havilland, a retired American actress, was one of the leading film stars during the golden age of Classical Hollywood. She was born on July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, to English professor-turned-patent attorney, Walter de Havilland and English actress, Lilian Fontaine. Now, the 102-year-old has been in the headlines for her lawsuit against Feud, an FX series, which is the dramatization of actual events. Now, the Supreme court has declined to revive the lawsuit by the actress. Here’s everything you need to know about the lawsuit and more facts you didn’t know about her.
1. Why is the Lawsuit Dismissed?
The first season aptly titled, Bette and Joan, depicts the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during the production of a film, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). The role of Bette’s friend, Olivia is portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Olivia claims that she is demonstrated as a vulgar gossipmonger and the series put false words in her mouth.
Her lawsuit, which asserted the violation of her right of publicity and false light, has been dismissed by the Supreme Court. On Monday, the high court said that it wouldn’t take the case. A California Court of Appeal ruled in 2018 that California law and the First Amendment required the case’s dismissal. The 2nd District Court of Appeal stated,
“Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star – 'a living legend' – or a person no one knows, she or he does not own history. Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator's portrayal of actual people.”
The judges stated that the battle behind Olivia’s claim would make legal action possible against all “books, films, plays and television programs that accurately portray real people.”
2. Turbulent Upbringing
Olivia and her sister were born in Japan and their mother insisted to return to England after both girls suffered from ill health, but settled in Northern California. Later, their parents divorced, and their father married his Japanese housekeeper and mother married a respectable businessman. The strict parenting of their stepfather generated rebellion in both sisters and led Olivia being forbidden to pursue acting led her to leave home. After Olivia was offered a lead role in a school fundraising production of Pride and Prejudice, her stepfather gave her two options, either to stay at home or not return home. She chose to leave the home forever and moved in with a family friend. Undoubtedly, her independent journey was certainly not easy until she found fame as an actress.
3. Sisters Feud
Olivia’s second Oscar nomination for her performance in Hold Back the Dawn (1941) created a sourness in her relationship with sister, Joan Fontaine. Fontaine, who always thought that their mother favored Olivia more than her, won an Oscar for her role in 1941’s Suspicion and humiliated Olivia publicly when she tried to congratulate Joan her on her win. The war of the sisters got worse when Olivia took her turn to snub Joan after winning her first Oscar for To Each His Own (1946). The tension between them ignited in their childhood days when Olivia wasn’t happy to have a younger sister and Joan’s frequent illness led to their mother’s overly protective expression, “Livvie can, Joan can’t.” Their feud ended with Joan’s demise on Dec 15, 2013. Olivia stated that she was “shocked and saddened” by the news of her sister’s demise.
4. Secrets to Longevity
This Hollywood centenarian attributes her amazingly healthy longevity to the three L’s – love, laughter and light, which she learned in Camp Fire Girls. She also loves to drink Champagne and does the New York Times crossword puzzle everyday for which she developed a passion during her teenage. She says that she is in no hurry to write a memoir as she plans to live to 110 years. Perhaps, her memoir might also offer the closing chapter on Olivia-Joan story as it has been reported that they had secretly reunited.
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