Hollywood Legend Olivia de Haviland Dies, and Other Notes from the Week - Verily

We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Hollywood legend Olivia de Haviland dies

The iconic actress Olivia de Haviland died this week at the age of 104.

Perhaps the last living representative of the golden age of Hollywood, de Haviland’s most famous role was as the sweet, loyal, but sickly Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. However she also starred opposite leading lights like Errol Flynn and Richard Burton. She won an Academy Award in 1946 for her work on To Each His Own.

One sad part of de Haviland’s life was her ongoing feud with her younger sister, fellow actress Joan Fontaine. Joan and Olivia were both nominated for an Oscar in 1942—with Joan walking away with the golden statuette. Reportedly, the sisters didn’t even acknowledge each other at the awards ceremony. BBC quoted Fontaine as saying, “I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she'll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it." Fontaine died in 2013.

One of de Haviland’s biggest contributions to her industry came when she took on the studio system, which at the time held tyrannical sway over the careers of stars. The California Supreme Court sided with her in her case against Warner Bros, striking one of the first blows for artist independence.

Olivia de Haviland died in Paris, where she had made her home since the 1950s. —Margaret Brady

National security adviser tests positive for COVID-19

Robert O’Brien, who serves as National Security Adviser for the Trump administration, has reportedly come down with the coronavirus.

O’Brien is the highest ranking official to test positive for the virus so far. CNN quoted a statement from the White House that said he is not severely ill and is “self-isolating and working from a secure location off site.”

Authorities say that the president and vice president were not exposed to the virus by O’Brien, who last publicly appeared alongside the president over two weeks ago during a trip to Miami, Florida, where the infection is raging. O’Brien had also recently traveled to Europe to meet with counterparts in the United Kingdom, Italy, and other countries.

Another Trump administration official, White House chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow, said that O’Brien may have contracted the disease from one of his college-age daughters, who has also tested positive.

O’Brien and his senior staff are tested daily for COVID-19 as his office is near the Oval Office in the West Wing. Reports say he actually had received a false negative result before a second test finally turned up positive.

O’Brien is one of more than 4.2 million cases of coronavirus in the United States, which has taken the lives of above 146,000 Americans since the pandemic reached the country’s shores early this year. —MB

#Challengeaccepted trend and resurgence is found to not have originated in Turkey

Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times investigated the #challengeaccepted trend as relating to plights of Turkish women and found out from platforms Facebook and Instagram that actually the hashtag has been used for various causes including cancer awareness, going back to 2016. The trend became headlines recently, when, Insider reports, “a viral Instagram challenge spread around the world, encouraging women to post black-and-white photos of themselves to show support for women. As the ‘challenge accepted’ trend continued to spread, so did confusion over the origins or purpose of the challenge, which gained popularity at the same time as a popular Turkish social-media activism trend to support the Istanbul Convention.”

Insider reports, “the challenge was popularized at the same time as a similar black-and-white photo trend in Turkey, as many protest the high rate of femicides, or murders of women, in the country.” Most recently, many are mourning the death of Pınar Gültekin, a 27-year-old student who was allegedly killed by a former partner after going missing on July 16.

Celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian, Gabrielle Union, and Vanessa Bryant participated in the #challengeaccepted trend referring to “women supporting women,” but with no clear acknowledgment of Turkish women. "While we found b&w posts relating to women's rights, it doesn't appear related to the more recent [hashtag] resurgence," Facebook and Instagram informed Lorenz. "It's great that Turkish women are now and more recently hopping on the trend in this way, but neither the trend nor its resurgence originated with them,” Lorenz concluded.

“‘Challenges’ like this, which are vague and widespread, allow people to feel as if they’re taking a stand while saying almost nothing. Celebrities love these types of ‘challenges’ because they don’t require actual advocacy, which might alienate certain factions of their fan base,” Lorenz noted. —Mary Rose Somarriba

Blockbuster book reveals details about the rift between William and Harry, Meghan and Kate

Finding Freedom, a new book being serialized in the London Times is setting off fireworks on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, as it spills the tea on behind-the-scenes turmoil in the British royal family.

The couple “finding freedom” are the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who surprised the world by quitting royal life earlier this year. They decamped first to Canada and then, as the coronavirus began to ominously spread, to Beverly Hills, California.

The book says that pre-existing tensions between Harry and his older brother William accelerated after Prince Harry met Meghan Markle, with Harry expressing outrage when Prince William told him to “take all the time you need” to get to know “this girl.” Meghan herself hoped that her new sister-in-law, Kate, would take her under her wing, but the two never clicked. Suffice it to say that the chilly details of their non-relationship are hideously awkward to read about. It’s even reported that Kate refused to make eye contact with the Duchess of Sussex during her last official public appearance as a royal in March.

The book is written by two journalists who could be described as fans of Meghan and Harry, and the stated goal of the book is to “set the record straight.” The Duke and Duchess have denied involvement, but the reporters have talked to much of their inner circle who’ve obviously been given permission to speak freely. Intimate details include Meghan texting her estranged father from her bathtub and Harry complaining that his older brother hogs all the best royal gigs.

The virus has brought home to many of us the importance of family and the fragility of life itself; here’s hoping that after the last wave of infection subsides, Britain’s first family will experience a healing thaw. —MB

Viral ‘Coronavirus cure’ video is banned on social media

An explosive new video, viewed by millions of Americans, was quickly removed and banned by Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, all of whom cited their censorship as necessary means to fight “misinformation.”

The video in question features a group of doctors testifying on Capitol Hill before the Supreme Court in regard to treatments for the novel coronavirus that has wrecked economies and ended lives across the globe. Multiple doctors said in the video that, through personal experience dealing with patients, they learned that hydroxychloroquine, an immunosuppressive drug commonly used to treat malaria, lupus, and arthritis, is a highly effective treatment against coronavirus.

One doctor in particular, Stella Immanuel, captivated audiences for delivering a fiery speech in which she claimed that she can no longer watch Americans die needlessly. She claimed that she has treated hundreds of patients with the drug, and as a result, has never had a patient die. But while many were moved by the apparent sincerity of her speech and her urgent call to action, the video was quickly removed by all three social media titans. Within hours, media outlets released scathing reviews of the doctor’s belief system, blasting her for believing in “alien DNA, demon sperm, and hydroxychloroquine.”

Dr. Immanuel’s belief system, as detailed on her website, may raise eyebrows, but the content behind the controversial video continues to make waves even after its censorship, as some are taking her statements as reason to question the necessity of a vaccine.

Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for his part, has spoken up to say that scientific studies do not support the claims made by the doctors on Capitol Hill. At the same time, at least one state has taken retaliatory action in regards to the doctors’ claims. Ohio, on the same day that it recorded a state-wide high for new cases, also banned the prescription of hydroxychloroquine, threatening possible revocation of medical license for those who disobey the new guideline. —Mariel Lindsay

Taylor Swift drops a surprise album

Last Friday, July 24, Taylor Swift dropped an album with less than 24-hour notice: “Most of the things I planned for this summer didn't end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that is my 8th studio album, folklore!” Swift posted on Instagram.

Swift’s album boasts a very indie-folk sound, for which she tapped The National’s Aaron Dessler to co-write and produce 11 songs. Of working together, Dessler wrote on social media, “I’m very proud of all these songs and profoundly grateful to @taylorswift for inviting me into and trusting me in her process . . . She is one of the most talented, hardworking and deeply caring artists I’ve ever encountered. There’s a palpable humanity and warmth and raw emotion in these songs that I hope you’ll love and take comfort in as much as I do.” Be sure to read Claire MacIntyre's review of folklore for Verily if you haven’t already! —MRS

Child with Downs Syndrome fights mask mandate on Southwest flight

Southwest Airlines, already battling financial losses as air travel has slowed, faced another coronavirus-related conundrum when a child with Down’s Syndrome was initially denied entry onto a flight due to her discomfort wearing a restrictive face mask as required per flight mandates.

A witness on the flight set to disembark from St. Louis, Missouri to Columbus, Ohio spoke up via social media: “Poor little girl . . . about 6 . . . with Downs Syndrome refuses to wear her mask and the Southwest employees are telling the mom (nicely) that the airline is now requiring it for everyone (no waivers). The little girl is having none of it. My heart is breaking for that mom!!” She continued to chronicle the altercation, noting the disabled child’s severe distress by stating, “We're on the plane and the girl is FLIPPING out over the mask. I wish I could figure out how to help!!!”

Fellow social media users offered their two cents, many noting that because Down's Syndrome is a federally recognized disability, the little girl should be protected by the American Disabilities Act (ADA). In the end, according to the witness who detailed the debacle via Facebook, another staff member of supervisory capacity entered the plane, “spoke with the mother, gave her some safety guidelines” and allowed the handicapped child to remain on the flight mask-less.

Southwest Airlines was reached for comment via Twitter, where they stated that they “do expect (and require) everyone to wear a mask when they travel with us, [but] our Employees should definitely be taking care to have gentle conversations about it.” —ML

Good news of the week

After a six-year-old boy named Bridger stood up to a charging dog to protect his sister, he ended up with stitches on his face and a tough road of recovery ahead. When his aunt took to social media to ask for some recognition of his superhero status, numerous Avengers reached out to the boy to welcome him to the club. 

Captain America actor Chris Evans shared an uplifting message with Bridger, promising him an authentic Captain America shield. Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. promised he’d beat that present on the kid’s next birthday. And Spiderman actor Tom Holland invited the boy to the set of Spiderman 3. —MRS

Watch of the week

Drew Barrymore interviews her seven-year-old self in this promotional clip for her new show premiering September 14.

Miss our “Articles of Note” section? Subscribe to Verily Daily emails and check out our new suggested reading at the bottom, in our new “May We Recommend” section.