Olivia de Havilland, last surviving cast member of "Gone With the Wind," dead at age 104

The two-time Oscar winner spent her last several decades living in Paris, laughing at her own longevity.
Image: Olivia de HavillandOlivia de Havilland in Paris on June 18, 2016.Thibault Camus / AP file

By David K. Li
Olivia de Havilland, an iconic actress of Hollywood's Golden Age and last surviving cast member of "Gone With the Wind," has died at age 104, her representatives said Sunday.

"Last night, the world lost an international treasure, and I lost a dear friend and beloved client," her former lawyer Suzelle M. Smith said in an email to NBC News. "She died peacefully in Paris."

The Northern California-raised de Havilland had been living in Paris for decades, following her marriage to the late Pierre Galante, executive editor of famed French magazine Paris Match. Galante died in 1998.

De Havilland poked fun at her remarkable longevity — even all the way back in 1962 — in her memoir, "Every Frenchman Has One." The venerable actress wrote more than 50 years ago that most people must believe she's dead.

“And so, when I wonder if you know that I live in France, I’m sure you don’t, because I am certain that you think me peacefully interred, and in good old native American soil. If that’s the case, you’re in for a surprise," de Havilland wrote. "By golly, I'm alive, all right, and I do live in France, and not under but on top of solid Parisian limestone."

De Havilland was nominated for five Oscars and took home best actress honors twice: in 1947 for "To Each His Own" and in 1950 for "The Heiress."

But she'll be best remembered for her work in "Gone With the Wind," picking up a 1940 best supporting actress nomination for playing Melanie "Mellie" Hamilton.

While "Gone With the Wind," and its romanticized take on the Antebellum South, hasn't aged well, de Havilland said the movie — and seeing old friends on screen — brought her joy late in life.

"Luckily, it does not make me melancholy," she told Entertainment Weekly upon her 99th birthday. "When I see them vibrantly alive on screen, I experience a kind of reunion with them, a joyful one."

"Gone With the Wind" produced the first Black Oscar winner: Hattie McDaniel won best supporting actress for her role as Mammy.

On the night of the 1940 Oscars, de Havilland said she was crushed that she didn't win and jokingly believed the slight showed "there was no God." It took her two weeks to realize the historical impact of a Black actress winning Hollywood gold.

"Two weeks later, still brooding about the fact that there was no God, I woke up one morning and thought, 'That’s absolutely wonderful that Hattie got the award!' Hattie deserved it and she got it," de Havilland told the Associated Press in 2004. "I thought I’d much rather live in a world where a Black actress who gave a marvelous performance got the award instead of me."
Image: Olivia de Havilland Gone with The Wind
Actress Olivia de Havilland and Hattie McDaniel in a scene from the movie "Gone with the Wind".Donaldson Collection / Getty Images file

In recent years, de Havilland was the star of her own courtroom drama as she sought to file suit against makers of the FX series "Feud: Bette and Joan," which centered on the rivalry between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
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