Olivia de Havilland made local headlines when she appeared in productions of “What Every Woman Knows” in 1946 and “Candida” in 1951 at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater in East Hampton.
The July 1951 production of George Bernard Shaw’s "Candida" broke the theater’s box office record, according to an article published at that time in the East Hampton Star. More than 200 people attended a cast party at Guild Hall on the show’s opening night.
It also drew rave reviews from the local paper in a summer that also brought Veronica Lake and Eva Gabor to the same stage.
“Twice an Academy Award winner, Miss de Havilland might well have been expected to give an exceptional performance,” reads an article published July 26, 1951. “[B]ut that her supporting cast was excellent was an extra dividend for Eastern Suffolk’s theatre-goers.”
De Havilland, best known for her acting in movies, died of natural causes on Sunday at her home in Paris at 104, according to her publicist.
Her mark in East Hampton wasn’t limited to the stage.
A young girl named Cynthia Cook, who was bedbound and in a cast for a year, told her father Edward how disappointed she was that she couldn’t see the production of "Candida." So de Havilland came to her instead.
“The arrangements were simple to make. Miss de Havilland hesitated not a moment when she heard the story and on Saturday afternoon the star sat at the bedside of the star worshipper while they talked together,” according to the Star.
It was also noted in the Star when her young son Benjamin Briggs Goodwin stayed at The Hedges Inn with his nurse earlier that summer.
De Havilland is just one of the many acting luminaries from Bela Lugosi to Alec Baldwin who have long appeared at the East Hampton theater since it was established in 1931, said its current artistic director, Josh Gladstone.
“In the world of acting Olivia de Havilland was certainly one of those actors, but she is joined by so many others that people might be surprised to know appeared at Guild Hall,” Gladstone said. “The history of the John Drew Theater is a who’s who of the 20th century American stage and cinema.”