CELEBRITIES I HAVE KNOWN
I have rarely met a celebrity. But I feel I have known many of them through following them, studying them and — yes — loving them. And I have known some of them through letters.
I became thrilled with Olivia de Havilland watching The Heiress over and over — and over again. I then went back to admire her in performances I had taken for granted, her Melanie of Gone with the Wind, the mature portrayal of the spinster in To Each His Own, the heart-breaking woman in love of Hold Back the Dawn . But it was her last five scenes in The Heiress that bowled me over.
And I wrote and told her so. In my hometown library, in who’s Who in America, I found her home address in Beverly Hills. I wrote and told her that Rick was awarding her best actress of the year — and also awarding Ralph Richardson best actor, Miriam Hopkins supporting actress and William Wyler director.
I was bowled over once more to receive a personal letter in ink on stunning blue stationery with an ivory-like monogram. She was glad I liked The Heiress so much and was pleased that I had chosen it for so many of my “bests.” It was a lovely response to an obviously youthful letter, and I still treasure it.
The Heiress received five Academy Awards, including a second best actress Oscar for Olivia de Havilland; but the award for outstanding picture went to the undistinguished All the King’s Men, certainly better than the 2006 version but in the 1949 Hollywood dust way behind The Heiress and A Letter to Three Wives (which won the writing and directing awards).
Olivia de Havilland. The lady is 100 years old this year. Gone with the Wind lives, and so does The Heiress. If you don’t know The Heiress, you deserve to. Turner Classic Movies shows it regularly and is featuring Olivia de Havilland. Try to watch The Heiress as if you were going to the movies: On its initial release, when people were in the habit of walking into movies at any point in the film, no one was allowed inside during the last five minutes of The Heiress.
NEXT FRIDAY POST July 15
See you AT the movies,
Photo credits: The three pictures
are from internet public domain
photo sites; but Turner Entertainment
must currently hold GWTW rights.