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This Day in WWII 23 April 1940 - 1945


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1024.jpg?md=1335174854000 Seagram's Five Crown Ad - April 1943

1940: Budget Day raises taxes on beer by 1d, whiskey up 1/9d (9p) and postage up 1d. Estimates of the 1940 war expenditure as £2,000 million criticized by MPs for being too low.

1941: King George II of Greece and his government are flown to Crete by the RAF.

1024.jpg?md=1335174828000 *Olivia de Havilland

1941: The German build up for Operation 'Barbarossa' continues with 59 divisions now deployed along the border with the Soviet Union.

1942: In a secret session of the House of Commons, Churchill delivers a speech declaring that the liberation of Europe was 'the main war plan' of Britain and the USA.

1024.jpg?md=1335174833000 Olivia de Havilland

1942: Churchill tells the House of Commons of disasters in Japanese war.

1942: The RAF raids Rostok with 142 aircraft.

1024.jpg?md=1335174816000 Camel Cigarette Ad - April 1944

1942: The Russian plan to hit the Germans with a powerful force of 640,000 men, 1,200 tanks, and 900 aircraft in the Kharkov area, while the Germans plan to hit the Russians with 636,000 men, 1,000 tanks, and 1,220 aircraft.

1024.jpg?md=1335174843000 Olivia de Havilland

1944: The last Japanese attack on Garrison Hill, Kohima is repulsed as the British ‘left hook’ begins its advance to the North.

1945: Dessau is reported as clear of German troops. The British Second Army reaches Harburg across the Elbe from Hamburg. Frankfurt is captured. Goring telegraphs Hitler saying that he will take over command as Hitler’s Deputy. Hitler says he must resign all his posts and orders Goring’s arrest. Reichsführer-SS Himmler begins secret negotiations for a separate peace in the West with Count Bernadotte, head of the Swedish Red Cross.

1945: The U.S. Fifth and British Eighth Armies reach the Po, to the North of Bologna.

1024.jpg?md=1335174848000 Olivia de Havilland

*Olivia Mary de Havilland was born to a British patent attorney and his wife on July 1, 1916, in Tokyo, Japan. Her sister, Joan, later to become famous as Joan Fontaine, was born the following year. Her parents divorced when Olivia was just three years old, and she moved with her mother and sister to Saratoga, California. After graduating from high school, where she fell prey to the acting bug, Olivia enrolled in Mills College in Oakland. It was while she was at Mills that she participated in the school play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and was spotted by Max Reinhardt. She so impressed Reinhardt that he picked her up for both his stage version and, later, the Warner Bros. film version in 1935. She again was so impressive that Warner executives signed her to a seven-year contract. No sooner had the ink dried on the contract than Olivia appeared in three more films: "The Irish in Us" (1935), "Alibi Ike" (1935) and "Captain Blood" (1935), the latter with the man with whom her career would be most closely identified, heartthrob Errol Flynn. He and Olivia starred together in eight films during their careers.

1024.jpg?md=1335174838000 Olivia de Havilland

In 1939 Warner Bros. loaned her to David O. Selznick for the classic "Gone with the Wind" (1939). Playing the sweet Melanie Hamilton, Olivia received her first nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, only to lose out to one of her co-stars in the film, Hattie McDaniel. After GWTW, Olivia returned to Warner Bros. and continued to churn out films. In 1941 she played Emmy Brown in "Hold Back the Dawn" (1941), which resulted in her second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actress. Again she lost, this time to her sister Joan for her role in "Suspicion" (1941). After that strong showing, Olivia now demanded better, more substantial roles than the "sweet young thing" slot into which Warner Bros. had been fitting her. The studio responded by placing her on a six-month suspension, all of the studios at the time operating under the policy that players were nothing more than property to do with as they saw fit. As if that weren't bad enough, when her contract with Warner Bros. was up, she was told that she would have to make up the time lost because of the suspension. Irate, she sued the studio, and for the length of the court battle she didn't appear in a single film. The result, however, was worth it. In a landmark decision, the court said not only that Olivia did not have to make up the time, but that all performers were to be limited to a seven-year contract that would include any suspensions handed down. This became known as the "de Havilland decision"; no longer could studios treat their performers as mere cattle. Returning to screen in 1946, Olivia made up for lost time by appearing in four films, one of which finally won her the Oscar that had so long eluded her. It was "To Each His Own" (1946), in which she played Josephine Norris to the delight of critics and audiences alike. Olivia was the strongest performer in Hollywood for the balance of the 1940s. In 1948 she turned in another strong showing in "The Snake Pit" (1948) as Virginia Cunningham, a woman suffering a mental breakdown. The end result was another Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but she lost to Jane Wyman in "Johnny Belinda" (1948). As in the two previous years, she made only one film in 1949, but she again won a nomination and the Academy Award for Best Actress for "The Heiress" (1949). After a three-year hiatus, Olivia returned to star in "My Cousin Rachel" (1952). From that point on, she made few appearances on the screen but was seen on Broadway and in some television shows. Her last screen appearance was in "The Fifth Musketeer" (1979), and her last career appearance was in the TV movie "The Woman He Loved" (1988) (TV). During the hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of GWTW in 1989, she graciously declined requests for all interviews as the only surviving one of the four main stars. Today she enjoys a quiet retirement in Paris, France.


Measurements: 32-23-33

Height: 5' 4" (1.63 m)


Pierre Galante (2 April 1955 - 30 April 1979) (divorced) 1 child

Marcus Goodrich (26 August 1946 - 28 August 1953) (divorced) 1 child

Olivia's cousin was Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882-1965), the British aviation pioneer and designer of aircraft such as the wartime Mosquito fighter.

Older sister of actress Joan Fontaine.

Daughter of film and stage actress Lillian Fontaine.

Relations between de Havilland and younger sister Joan Fontaine were never all that strong and worsened in 1941, when both were nominated for 'Best Actress' Oscar awards. Their mutual dislike and jealousy escalated into an all-out feud after Fontaine won for Suspicion (1941). Despite the fact that de Havilland went on to win two Academy Awards of her own, they remained permanently estranged.

In a rare act of reconciliation, Olivia and her sister Joan Fontaine celebrated Christmas 1962 together along with their then-husbands and children.

1024.jpg?md=1335174822000 Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Ad - April 1944

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