This was a rough weekend for entertainment fans as we lost three major stars. Old Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland passed away at 104. Prolific actor John Saxon died at age 84. And talk show host Regis Philbin passed away at 88.
Actress Olivia de Havilland is perhaps best remembered as Mellie from Gone with the Wind. However, she was so much more than a single role. Considered to be the last of the great movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, she was paired with Erroll Flynn during the early stage of her career in Robin Hood (1938) and Captain Blood (1935).
She won an Oscar for later films To Each His Own and The Heiress, and continued working in film, television, and stage productions through the late 80s.
De Havilland and her sister, fellow movie star Joan Fontaine, famously hated each other. She also waged battles against the studio system, fighting against unfair contracts and typecasting. She took Warner Brothers to court and won, changing the way that studios created contracts. She lived most of her life in Paris, and died there peacefully in her sleep.
If you watched a western or horror flick made during the last 60 years, then you’ve probably seen John Saxon. He had roles in more than 200 movies and TV shows during his career.
Never a leading man, he found a niche in genre movies, often playing a cop or a detective. Born Carmine Orrico, he changed his name to something more palatable to American audiences and went to Hollywood in the mid-50s.
Saxon wasn’t just an actor but also an accomplished martial artist. You can see that skill on display in Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. Horror fans know him from the Nightmare on Elm Street films (he played Nancy’s father) and Dario Argento’s Tenebrae.
For those of us who grew up in the 90s, Regis Philbin has always been on our TVs. From morning talk shows to game shows, he never stopped working. In fact, he holds the Guinness World Record for most hours in US television.
Philbin spent his life on TV sets, from his earliest job as a page on The Tonight Show. He worked his way up to his first talk show, simply named The Regis Philbin Show, in 1961. He teamed up with Kathie Lee Gifford in the mid-80s, and the duo spent nearly 15 years co-hosting Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee. He continued the show with Kelly Ripa in 2001, eventually retiring in 2011.
“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” his family announced in a statement to People.
“His family and friends are forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him – for his warmth, his legendary sense of humor, and his singular ability to make every day into something worth talking about. We thank his fans and admirers for their incredible support over his 60-year career and ask for privacy as we mourn his loss.”