In the spirit of the Oscars, I am counting down the next seven days by honouring some of the strongest women in Classic Film. On and off the screen they all showed beauty, grace, talent and undying resolve.

My inspiration comes from – oddly – Nancy Meyer’s movie “The Holiday”. Iris-a journalist, played by Kate Winslet, switches homes with an L.A. movie trailer producer, Amanda, played by Cameron Diaz. Iris’ passion for the greats – the women with gumption- is contagious. These women inspire Iris to find her own voice – her own gumption – to throw out a man who never really saw her greatness. I always yearn for Classic Hollywood when I watch this film.  Anyway, I digress.

Olivia De Havilland

  • Appeared in 49 feature films
  • Is best known for: Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Gone With the Wind (1939), and through television – Roots: The Next Generation (1979)
  • Won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two New York Film Critic Circle Awards, the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress, and the Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup.
  • 28th Actress to receive an Academy Award

Did you know? De Havilland is well-known for her court victory against Warner Brothers in the mid 40’s (many others had sued Warner’s but failed), which stopped Warner’s from adding suspension periods to actors’ contracts and therefore meant more freedom for actors in Hollywood. The decision was one of the most significant and far-reaching legal rulings in Hollywood. The decision came to be informally known, and is still known to this day, as the “De Havilland law”.

 Why I like her: Her strength and resolve both onscreen and off. Ponder her explanation of the Golden Age of Hollywood:

“(Sexism) was a fact of life I simply had to accept. Men felt threatened and mistrustful of women who had good ideas, and one had to employ immense tact when dealing with directors and producers. As to remuneration for one’s work, women were resigned to receiving less financial compensation than a man for their work.”

Favorite Quote

Melanie (from Gone with the Wind) was someone different. She had very, deeply feminine qualities … that I felt were very endangered at that time, and they are from generation to generation, and that somehow, they should be kept alive, and … that’s why I wanted to interpret her role. … The main thing is that she was always thinking of the other person, and the interesting thing to me is that she was a happy person … loving, compassionate.