Olivia de Havilland performed in forty-nine feature films and won multiple Academy and Golden Globe awards. But her career almost ended well before stardom.
Deeply passionate about drama while in high school, Olivia won the role of Elizabeth Bennet in a school fundraising production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Her parents, however, did not permit extracurricular activities. “I shall have nothing to do with it. You will have to ask your stepfather,” was how Olivia’s mother responded to her daughter asking for permission to perform.
Olivia chose not to ask her father, studying her lines at night with a flashlight. Upon learning of Olivia’s preparation to perform, her stepfather gave an ultimatum – leave the show and continue living at home, or play the role and no longer be welcome at home.
Not wanting to let her school and classmates down, Olivia kept her role and moved out.
“Actress Olivia de Havilland: a snapshot biography” sources: Fontaine, Joan (1978). No Bed of Roses. New York: Morrow. / Portrait of Olivia de Havilland is a publicity photo taken in 1938 by Warner Bros. / Wikimedia Commons