Olivia de Havilland takes lawsuit against FX over her ‘Feud’ portrayal to U.S. Supreme Court

Actress Olivia de Havilland in 2006.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

It’s not over until it’s over. Olivia de Havilland is taking her “Feud” case to the Supreme Court.

The 102-year-old actress filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, asking it to review a California Court of Appeal’s decision to toss out her case against FX over her portrayal in the 2017 miniseries “Feud: Bette and Joan.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court grants very few writs; however, this case is of immense social significance and popular concern over the California Court’s use of the First Amendment to immunize Hollywood businesses when they knowingly publish unconsented falsehoods about living people in commercial productions,” said de Havilland’s attorney Suzelle Smith, of the firm Howarth & Smith, in a press release.


She added: “The Court of Appeal’s decision is a radical departure from traditional First Amendment precedent, and benefits no group other than those who seek to use the names and identities of others in untrue and salacious ‘historical dramas’ for their own profit.”

“We must persevere and speak truth to power,” said de Havilland in the press release. “The fight is itself important to the principle of honesty, so much in need today in the face of deliberate public confusion for selfish agendas.”

The legendary “Gone With the Wind” actress claims that FX and producer Ryan Murphy’s use of her identity in the series “Feud” was unauthorized and inaccurate.

But California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal wrote in its March decision to that “whether a person portrayed in [an] expressive work is a world-renowned film star — ‘a living legend’ — or a person no one knows, she or he does not own history … Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator’s portrayal of actual people.”

At the time Smith blasted the “disappointing” opinion as “entirely in favor of FX and the industry.”

The appellate decision reversed Superior Court Judge Holly Kendig’s ruling that had allowed the case to go to trial. FX appealed that decision.

In May, de Havilland and her team petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the appellate court’s decision. That petition was denied in July.

Twitter: @tracycbrown