Most people would have placed Vivian Leigh’s role as Scarlett above that of Olivia de Havilland’s performance as Melaine Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. However, I am not most people. Olivia’s portrayal of the enduring, loving and compassionate alter ego of Scarlett was one of the finest performances in the movie. She captured my heart the moment she appeared on the screen. While the film’s producers scoured the nation looking for an actress to play Scarlett O’Hara, de Havilland was one of the few ‘name’ actresses at the time not pleading for the role. Instead she wanted to play Melanie, a supporting role, and she convinced Warner Brothers to “loan her out” to a rival studio for the production.
Many say her role was not a big stretch, as she was much like Melanie. This may or may not have been the case, but she made Scarlett seem so much more self-centered and sometimes even vile. Her constant presence kept Scarlett real and humane.
Olivia is the last remaining principal cast member of Gone with the Wind and lives in Paris, France at the age of 91.