Class act

Olivia de Havilland was asked if she watches “Feud” and her rejection letter is priceless

Olivia de Havilland is the only major star depicted on FX’s Feud who is still alive, but if you think she’s tuning in each week for the gags and the shade like the rest of us, you’re sorely mistaken.

Havilland, 100, is played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the Ryan Murphy drama, and she has about as much interest in the show as Anne Bancroft did in her 1963 Best Actress Oscar. Which is to say, none.

Related: Yup, that bizarre Bette Davis musical number from last night’s ‘Feud’ is very real

The Hollywood Reporter made repeated attempts to reach out to Havilland to get her to comment on the show, the animosity between its lead characters Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and the above-mentioned 1963 Academy Awards ceremony.

Her rejection letter is somehow both curt and flowery, and altogether perfect:

“I have received your email with its two questions,” De Havilland replied. “I would like to reply first to the second of these, which inquires of me the accuracy of a current television series entitled Feud, which concerns Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and their supposed animosity toward each other. Having not seen the show, I cannot make a valid comment about it. However, in principle, I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves.”

De Havilland added, “As to the 1963 Oscar ceremony, which took place over half a century ago, I regret to say that I have no memory of it whatsoever and therefore cannot vouch for its accuracy.”

And just for kicks, here’s the real-life theatrical trailer for 1964’s Lady in a Cage starring Olivia de Havilland that featured in last week’s Feud:


Related: Bette Davis who? Jessica Lange’s real-life feud is all too real.

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15 Comments

  • MacAdvisor

    “I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves.”

    Really? She was a lead in The Great Garrick about the life of English actor David Garrick, as well as The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, about Queen Elizabeth I. She played the title character in That Lady, the story of Ana de Mendoza, a swashbuckling, sword-toting princess who lost an eye in a duel defending the honor of her king Philip II. While her career was mostly playing fictional characters in romantic comedies or costume pictures, she did play actual people who were not alive to judge the accuracy of the accuracy of her performance or the events of the movie.

    de Haviland is a class act. Her performances were always terrific. I think what she really means is she not going to gossip about people she worked with. Good for her.

  • Tobi

    The Hollywood Reporter expected Olivia de Havilland to comment on a feud, given the lifelong one she ran with her sister, Joan Fontaine?!

  • Darrellx

    is that Britney at 1:50?

  • Jere

    I agree with MacAdvisor…de Havilland is taking the high road here. I’m sure, if she chose, she’d have enough to say to fill a book. If she ever started in on FEUD, as much as I love it, she’d probably take it apart line by line, shot by shot, and give Ryan Murphy an earful about how the real story was nothing like anything that he’s portrayed. And she would probably send Catherine Zeta-Jones fleeing from the room in tears.

  • He BGB

    In my opinion watching Feud, I think Ryan Murphy makes Joan out to be the bigger villain, well, maybe until this last episode where Bette is on set as a producer of Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte. Anyway, the dialogue has to be fiction unless everyone was carrying around a tape recorder all the time. Ryan can’t do the feud between Olivia and the other Joan until Olivia dies, so he’s doing Charles and Diana next. But I digress, Ryan was a friend of Bette and a huge fan so naturally he’s going to make her the victim more in Feud.

    • OzJosh

      It’s pretty hard to avoid making Joan the bigger villain. Even some of her friends thought she was borderline crazy, if not actually certifiable. She also acted far more out of malice and vanity, as almost everything written about her confirms. Davis was a tough old broad and a hard taskmaster, but she wasn’t nuts. Even in that last episode where she seems like a bitch – to Joan at least – she is merely being a stickler for dramatic authenticity, and the changes she was demanding were entirely within her rights as a producer/star. Obviously the dialogue is invented, but it mostly has a ring of truth about it. While I am largely dismissive of the Shaun Considine book (The Divine Feud) that inspired the series, I have to admit that Murphy has brought an impressive level of research and background detail to the project, adding a degree of authenticity that I never expected.

  • Jack Meoff

    That trailer is hilarious pure B grade schlock. How acting has changed over the decades.

  • Bob LaBlah

    Well that was curt. Personally honey I always thought you and Katherine Hepburn were over rated. It turns out I was right.

  • Greg

    Did Joan Crawford really have a person she called “Mamacita”? What happened to Miss Jenkins?

    • jjdeg

      Yes. Real name Anna Marie Brinke and she did work for Crawford. She was German but Crawford called her by a Portugese nickname. According to her son she did quit because Crawford threw things at her.

      Her role inthis production was probably overstated however.

  • jckfmsincty

    I always thought that deHavilland’s acting was smug.

  • JessPH

    She’s a terrific actress. My favorite performance of her is in the move The Heiress.

  • pen name

    Why is the rejection letter “priceless?”

  • william_mcrae

    The lady is old school. Stars of that era did not air their grievances with each other out openly for the public to feast over it. Even Bette and Joan maintained a cordial tone when asked by reporters what they thought of each other.

    She knew these people and doesn’t wish to indulge in gossip long after they have gone. It’s respect. Slandering the dead doesn’t win you any points, no matter what they were like in their personal lives. .

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