Olivia de Havilland and the 11th Airborne

Olivia de Havilland in her 11th Airborne jacket

Dame Olivia Mary de Havilland, born 1 July 1916) was a British-American actress. Her career spanned from 1935 to 1988.  She appeared in 49 feature films, and was one of the leading movie stars during the golden age of Classical Hollywood.   She is best known for her early screen performances in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and  (1939), and her later award-winning performances in To Each His Own (1946), The Snake Pit (1948), and The heiress (1949).

Olivia de Havilland pin-up

Born in Tokyo to British parents, de Havilland and her younger sister, Joan Fontaine, moved with their mother to California in 1919. They were brought up by their mother Lilian, a former stage actress who taught them drama, music, and elocution.  De Havilland made her acting debut in amateur theatre in Alice in Wonderland. Later, she appeared in a local production of Shakespeare’s  A Midsummer’s Night Dream, which led to her playing Hermia in Max Reinhardt stage production of the play and a movie contract with Warner Bros.

Olivia de Havilland at Hollywood Canteen, 1943

De Havilland became a naturalized citizen of the United States on November 28, 1941, ten days before the United States entered  WWII militarily, alongside the Allied Forces.  During the war years, she actively sought out ways to express her patriotism and contribute to the war effort.

Olivia de Havilland visits the injured in Alaska

In May 1942, she joined the Hollywood Victory Caravan, a three-week train tour of the country that raised money through the sale of war bonds.  Later that year she began attending events at the Hollywood Canteen, meeting and dancing with the troops.

In December 1943 de Havilland joined a USO tour that traveled throughout the United States, Alaska, and the South Pacific, visiting wounded soldiers in military hospitals.  She earned the respect and admiration of the troops for visiting the isolated islands and battlefronts in the Pacific.  She survived flights in damaged aircraft and a bout with viral pneumonia requiring several days’ stay in one of the island barrack hospitals.   She later remembered, “I loved doing the tours because it was a way I could serve my country and contribute to the war effort.”

Olivia de Havilland in Kodiak, 1943

In 1957, in appreciation of her support of the troops during World War II and the Korean War, de Havilland was made an honorary member of the 11th Airborne Division and was presented with a United States Army jacket bearing the 11th’s patch on one sleeve and the name patch “de Havilland” across the chest

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Mildred Baum – Venetia, PA; Civilian, US Army JAG (D.C. office), WWII

Hilbert Ditters – Ferdonia, ND; US Army, WWII, PTO, Japan Occupation

Billy Joe Hash – Whitley County, KY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Purple Heart, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Jim Honickel – Summit, NJ; US Army, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Harold D. Langley – Amsterdam, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO / author, military historian

Jimmy Morrison – Hazelton, IN; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam

Robert Payán – Gallup, NM; US Army Air Corps, German Occupation, medic

Ronald Rosser – Columbus, OH; US Army, Korea, Medal of Honor

Salvador Schepens – Gulfport, MS; US Merchant Marines, WWII / US Navy, Korea, USS Wasp & Hornet, (Ret.)

Donald Terry – Apollo Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Cone (DD-866)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on September 3, 2020, in Home Front, Post WWII, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 133 Comments.

  1. The earlier actresses were magnificent with their natural beauty, and no Botox. They actually had real human expressions such as frowning when angry or in anguish. Subtle makeup and they didn’t all look the same from cosmetic surgery.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea she lived such a long life. Inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed Captain Blood with Errol Flynn. It is in black and white though. Apparently she had to keep him at arm’s length. I don’t think I would be a as tough as her!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a fascinating lady I must investigate her films now I’ve learnt a bit about her.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. She was something else.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A beautiful post on Dame Olivia Mary de Havilland gp, always enjoy seeing her name on the screen in old movies, an extremely patriotic lady and well worth the legacy of being a very vital memory to many ex servicemen.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    As always, a very interesting post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I didn’t know Olivia de Havilland was made an honorary member of the 11th Airborne! This post made me think of the old Phil Silvers show with Sgt. Ernie Bilko and Sgt. Joan Hogan. Not only was Sgt. Hogan beautiful, she was smarter than Bilko. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a wonderful story! Thank you, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. In the past i had heared about her, but not really much to understand. Now its much more better, and she needs to be honored for her work on distraction and motivation for the troups. Thank you for sharing GP! Have a beautiful weekend! Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Fijn dat ze de troepen ondersteunde.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I had no idea that she was related to the de Havillands of aircraft fame, and I’d completely forgotten that she played Melanie in GWTWind. She was such a gracious lady: as the soldiers of her time might have said, “A classy dame!” She certainly did her part for the war effort — during the war years, and afterwards.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Hedy Lamarr was another Hollywood star who contributed to the war effort.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Olivia was a treasure indeed

    Liked by 3 people

  15. A tribute to a great lady! I always remember her as Melanie on Gone With The Wind. It was a different Hollywood at that time. First time I see her in that jacket! Love it!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I was very sad to hear of her passing a short while ago 😦 Such a wonderful lady on and off the screen!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Olivia was a one of a kind treasure. I’ll always remember her as Melanie.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Olivia’s life impressed me as she came here from another country. But when she became a naturalized citizen, she dedicated herself to finding ways to lift the morale of the troops and support ‘her’ country. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people today felt that kind of patriotism, those that were born here as well as those here from other countries?

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Thanks for your like of my post, “End Times 23, The False Prophet;” and others. Please keep up your own good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A great tribute to a great lady – thank you, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I enjoyed this post on Olivia de Havilland, GP. She and her sister Joan Fontaine were two of my favorite actresses from that period. They were both very talented and didn’t realize their mother was instrumental in their careers as a former actress. Not sure if you’ve done any previous post on the Hollywood Canteen but I enjoyed that period of World War II, too. So many Hollywood stars donated their time and effort both at the Canteen and, as you mention, traveling for soldiers. Not to mention the actors who actually served, including some of our top stars. What a great time of patriotism!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Someplace in her life is one heck of a movie waiting to be made.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. What a lovely lady, inside and out. Always one of my favorites. Melanie is Gone with the Wind was my crush as a youngster. Surprised to learn she only made 49 movies. She recently passed away at 104. A gracious life well-lived. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  24. I loved her as “Mellie” in Gone with the Wind!

    Liked by 5 people

  25. Elegant even in that jacket.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I loved her performance in Gone with the Wind. Thanks for the information on her patriotic work too, GP.

    Liked by 4 people

  27. Great post today, GP. I love Olivia. The USO shows were so important!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Very cool! Listening to Old Time Radio shows I hear a lot of the big names doing what they could. Thanks for sharing the story.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. She was nominated for best supporting actress in Gone with the Wind. She was a great actress and great nationalized American! BTW Hattie McDaniel won best supporting actress and justifiably so. It is a great movie even if politically incorrect today. Thanks for posting the tribute to Olivia de Havilland, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. So often, the newest American citizens (even naturalized) are the most patriotic. I must be one at heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Well done to Olivia. They don’t make them like her anymore.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. She’s amazing! Isn’t there an aircraft with her name?

    Liked by 2 people

  33. There was a time when the Hollywood crowd supported America. Many actors and actresses would entertain the troops. Then things changed. Ronald Reagan battled a communist takeover of the Screen Actors Guild long before he battled communism as the President of the United States.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I did not know that — one of my favorite actresses and a division dear to my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. A great actress and sounds like a lovely person.

    Liked by 3 people

  36. How impressive for a Hollywood star, who was used to dressing in lavish cloths, to wear an Airborne jacket like a fur coat.

    Liked by 4 people

  37. It is good to learn this

    Liked by 3 people

  38. I love this posting and the cartoons. Nice, GP.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. Lovely to learn more about Olivia de Havilland. Her name always makes me think of De Havilland aircraft!

    Liked by 4 people

  40. I always thought she was best known for Gone With The Wind…but I guess we’re not allowed to mention that movie anymore. 😦 Great post, GP! I’m not big on the Hollywood crowd, but I always liked her. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 5 people

  1. Pingback: Olivia de Havilland and the 11th Airborne — Pacific Paratrooper | Ups Downs Family History

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