Wednesday, January 11, 2006
How Olivia De Havilland Change the face of Hollywood System and what became "De Havilland Law"
From the 192O’s to the early 1950’s the major studios exerted extremely tight
control over the star system, each carefully grooming a stable of stars,
strategically placing them in film roles, controlling their ‘private’ lives and creating
gaze. The studio system offered stars, in the words of Bette Davis, ‘the security
of a prison because although they were extremely well paid, they were penned in
by long-term contracts. virtually owned by their studio. Suspension was one of’ the most cruel
punishments that the studio bosses meted out to their stars. who refused to play a particular role was obliged to wait, unpaid, whilst that film
was shot and then half that time again. off what was originally only a seven year contract.
Beginning of the decline of’ the power of the major Hollywood studios. This event
was the de Havilland law suit of 1945. Jack Warner had loaned Olivia de
Havilland to David Selznick for Gone With the Wind (in which she played Melanie), but after she returned to Warners, he kept offering her insignificant
roles. She turned them down, so Warner suspended her. persistent extension of her contract was unfair practice and she challenged this
in the Courts - and won. A studio contracts were limited to a maximum of seven consecutive years
regardless of any suspensions, and contracts were frequently re-negotiated on a
regular basis. case, Olivia de Havilland celebrated her return to the screen - and her new found
freedom - with an Oscar-winning performance for Paramount in 'To Each His
As Bette Davis often said, "Every actor in the business owes a great debt of gratitude to Olivia for what she did'
Note :California Labor Code 2855, otherwise known as the "De Havilland Law". This law was passed in 1945 in response to a legal battle waged by film star Olivia de Havilland, who fought to free actors from long-term studio contracts. The statute in question retains and protects the right of an entertainer to terminate a contract with an entertainment company after seven years without suffering repercussions or prosecution for future profit losses.