This post is a part of TMP’s “Historical Context” series, where I share excerpts from my collection of vintage magazines. For more posts in this series check out the archive!
Photoplay’s June 1944 issue featured the lovely Olivia de Havilland on the cover, a portrait by Paul Hesse. Between the mag’s covers Olivia could be found in an article called “Scrapbook on Olivia de Havilland,” which promised “the fascinating odds and ends in the fabulous life of a very fair lady.” In other words, possibly-fictitious tidbits regarding Livvie’s likes, dislikes, and lifestyle, penned by Eleanor Harris.
For instance, what is her favorite inanimate object? A riveting question, surely. Photoplay‘s answer: “Her bed in which she spends nearly all the time she’s home, from dusk til dawn. In it she reads, eats breakfast and dinner, telephones endlessly; and from it she even entertains her friends with the dignity of a drawing-room dowager!” Olivia de Havilland: secretly bedridden star of the silver screen!
Naturally, because her favorite object is her bed, her favorite fashion is listed as bedjackets. “She has three dozen of them in every material and color.” Can’t fault a girl for liking comfortable sleepwear. Her second-best choice is a bit unusual, though: “a white blouse with bunches of bananas painted on the bosom and sleeves.” Fashionable at the time, but not quite to the modern eye.
In typical mid-20th century fashion, Photoplay doesn’t waste this opportunity to rag on Olivia’s love life or give their two cents on why she’s not yet married. Listed are four possible men for “current beau,” followed lower on the page by a roster of exes, of which Harris writes, “Get set for a long list.” A long list of unimpressive faces, apparently, for the mag says that she prefers her men “homely as a mud fence.” Ouch!
Of her worst faults, Harris says that Livvie has an “absurd old-maid complex” and “laughs like a heavyweight prizefighter,” which is not in keeping with her beauty or “ladylike appearance.”
It’s not all snark and criticism, though. The mag mentions that her dinner parties are full of great food and good conversation. She doesn’t lie, she reads a little bit of the Bible every day, and she’s brave enough to “make up her own rules.” Her greatest virtues are “her generosity, her devastating honesty — and her truly great ability to act,” writes Harris.
To top it all off, Harris offers de Havilland’s pet beauty secret: “False eyelashes bring out eyes to their fullest.”
False lashes, bedjackets, frequent dates, and a devotion to acting. That’s the life of Olivia de Havilland, according to Photoplay.