Olivia de Havilland
Legendary Leading Lady
Olivia de Havilland: There really wasn't any doubt about the right decision for me to take, and one of the nice things I thought was, "If I do win, other actors feeling frustration such as I feel will not have to endure that. They will take the suspension, going without pay of course, but knowing they will not have to serve that time again." And indeed, I didn't realize how much that could mean to other artists in the profession until actually, about two or three years ago. I was at a luncheon in Hollywood, and I sat next to a very charming and very able man, very highly regarded man, Roger Mayer, a lawyer. Now, he was not related to Louis B. Mayer, but he was apparently with Metro [MGM studios] for a certain length of time, and he said, "What that meant to writers, you can't imagine." Writers like Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner was one. He didn't mention those particular names, but indeed, the names he meant were of equal stature. He said, "Those men would be put under contract, and then assigned something, a scene to write in a film for which they had no natural inclination and no knowledge." I mean, say a western, a writer whose great specialty was the Deep South. He said, "Those men couldn't bear to do a poor piece of work, and they knew that they would, and that they would risk their great international reputations in going ahead and trying to meet the requirement of the studio. Now, when you won your case, they were thrilled, because of course, they were perfectly willing to go without pay until they were assigned some kind of work for which they had a feel and knew that they could do a distinguished piece of work by it."
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