Donald McCleary has some good clips from the legendary actress. My parents had a couple things I associated with them. My Dad was Frank Sinatra all the way. I was mildly aware of rock music in my younger years. My Dad did like some of the Beatles' songs, so I grew up learning to appreciate them. He did not like Elvis. But he was all Sinatra, and when we moved out into the boons, away from friends and community, I found myself reading the books left over by the house's previous owner - a school teacher - while listening to his collection of Sinatra, Big Band and Classical music.
My Mom, on the other hand, had two dear favorites. One was that wacky redhead of television comedy, Lucille Ball. The other was Gone With the Wind. That was her all time favorite movie. She liked others of course. She didn't like James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and Edward G. Robinson. I thought I'd throw that out there. She did remember the original Universal Frankenstein and Dracula with fondness.
But Gone With the Wind was her favorite. When video tapes came out, one of our first big gifts to her was a big celebratory Gone With the Wind tape feature, complete with books and music and videos and 'Making the movie' documentaries and the works. I never saw the movie until then, and I must admit, I was impressed. I remember students in college watching it for the first time who were also impressed by it. When our youngest was first born, one night we swung his baby chair near the TV and plopped down with our boys to watch the entire movie. They all - including our youngest - watched the entire film. At the end, they were stunned at how brutal it was, how there was so much death and misery, and yet no real clear 'good guy wins in the end' finish. It was all so, well, realistic, like life actually is. Something they weren't used to with the movies they were growing up with.
Because I heard so much about the movie, and also grew up loving other movies like The Adventures of Robin Hood (a family favorite), The Heiress (a favorite of my boys), Captain Blood, and a host of others, I knew of Ms. de Havilland long before I had heard of some of my own generation's icons. Her relationship with Errol Flynn was the stuff of Hollywood gossip and almost lived up to their screen personas. But over all, a classy lady from a classy time. Happy Birthday, and thanks for all the enjoyment we've received, and especially my Mom.