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Joan Fontaine was a movie star of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. She is the younger sister of Olivia de Havilland. Their mother had wanted to be an actress, but instead instilled that desire in her daughters. De Havilland became an actress first, and when Fontaine broke into film their mother reportedly demanded that she go by some other name than de Havilland. Fontaine first called herself Joan Burfield, before settling on her stepfather`s name, Fontaine, as her stage name. The two sisters never appeared together in the same film.
Fontaine spent the early part of her career in her sister`s shadow, but eventually eclipsed her stardom. The two stars, both rather high-strung and easily offended, feuded for decades after both were Oscar-nominated in 1942. De Havilland lost the award for Hold Back the Dawn, while Fontaine won for Suspicion. According to reports at the time, when de Havilland tried to congratulate her sister on winning, Fontaine turned away.
Fontaine starred in numerous well-remembered films, including Letter from an Unknown Woman with Louis Jourdan, Jane Eyre with Orson Welles, and Ivy with Patric Knowles. She remained a high-profile star until reaching middle age, when she was no longer offered interesting parts. She turned to television, making many appearances on live plays and anthology series, and she had brief success on Broadway when she replaced Deborah Kerr in the lead of Tea and Sympathy with Anthony Perkins.
Fontaine and her sister have long been at odds, over perceived slights to their husbands, snide comments reported in the media, or memories of Joan having to wear Olivia`s hand-me-downs in adolescence. Their battles reportedly reached a crescendo after their mother`s death in 1975, when Joan said she was not invited to the memorial service, and Olivia said Joan simply refused to attend. In the decades since, the two sisters have reportedly not spoken to each other.
Fontaine was married and divorced four times, and she has said that her mother, Lillian de Havilland, was the best friend she ever had. In retirement, Fontaine tends to her garden, and does not answer fan mail. She is reportedly not on speaking terms with her two daughters, because they are on speaking terms with their Aunt Olivia.
Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine, whose film career was marked by her long-running rivalry with her sister, Olivia de Havilland, died on Sunday December 15, 2013 at age 96 at her home in Carmel, California, Hollywood's two trade publications reported.
The Hollywood Reporter said Fontaine's death from natural causes was confirmed by the star's assistant, Susan Pfeiffer.
Couple Profile Source
The American School, Japan
Full Name at Birth
Joan de Beauvior de Havilland
Page Display = 2 (Legacy)
Count - Awards
Walter Augustus de Havilland (British patent attorney, b. 1872, d. 1968)
Lillian Ruse Fontaine (actress, b. 1886, d. 1975, cancer)
Olivia de Havilland (actress)
Ida Lupino, Ingrid Bergman, Jennifer Jones, Anita Colby, David Niven, Lillian Gish, Charles Boyer, George Cukor, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Bennett
Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland (22 October 1917 − 15 December 2013), known professionally as Joan Fontaine, was a British American actress. Born in Japan to British parents, de Havilland and her older sister Olivia de Havilland moved to California in 1919. Fontaine began her career on the stage in 1935 and signed a contract with RKO Pictures that same year.
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