Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine

Infobox actor
name = Joan Fontaine

imagesize = 230px
caption = from the trailer for "Suspicion" (1941)
birthname = Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland
birthdate = birth date and age|1917|10|22
birthplace = Tokyo, Japan
yearsactive = 1935 - 1994
spouse = Brian Aherne (1939-1945)
William Dozier (1946-1951)
Collier Young (1952-1961)
Alfred Wright, Jr. (1964-1969)
academyawards = Best Actress
1941 "Suspicion"
awards = NYFCC Award for Best Actress
1941 "Suspicion"

Joan Fontaine (born October 22, 1917) is an Academy Award-winning British actress in American films. She became an American citizen in April 1943. Along with Luise Rainer and her sister, Olivia de Havilland, Fontaine is one of the last surviving adult female film stars from Hollywood of the 1930s.

Early life

She was born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland in Tokyo, Japan, the younger daughter of Walter de Havilland (1872-1968), and the former Lilian Augusta Ruse (1886-1975), a British actress known by her stage name of Lilian Fontaine, who married in 1914, and divorced when Joan was two. Walter was a British patent attorney with a practice in Japan.

She is the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland, from whom she has been estranged since 1975; both attended Los Gatos High School and the Notre Dame Convent Roman Catholic girls school in Belmont, California.

Joan was a sickly child who developed anemia following a combined attack of the measles and a streptococcic infection. Upon the advice of a physician, Joan's mother moved her and her sister to the United States where they settled in the town of Saratoga, California.

Joan's health improved dramatically and she was soon taking diction lessons along with her sister. She was also an extremely bright child and scored 160 on an intelligence test when she was three.Fact|date=May 2008 When she was fifteen, Joan returned to Japan and lived with her father for two years.

tage career

Joan made her stage debut in the West Coast production of "Call It A Day" in 1935 and was soon signed to an RKO contract. In later life she appeared on Broadway in "Forty Carats".

Film career

Her film debut was a small role in "No More Ladies" (1935). She was selected to appear in a major role alongside Fred Astaire in his first RKO film without Ginger Rogers: "A Damsel in Distress" (1937) but audiences were disappointed and the film flopped. [] She continued appearing in small parts in about a dozen films but failed to make a strong impression and her contract was not renewed when it expired in 1939, the same year she married her first husband, the late British actor Brian Aherne. That marriage was not a success.

Her luck changed one night at a dinner party when she found herself seated next to producer David O. Selznick. She and Selznick began discussing the Daphne du Maurier novel "Rebecca", and Selznick asked her to audition for the part of the unnamed heroine. She endured a grueling six-month series of film tests, along with hundreds of other actresses, before securing the part.

"Rebecca" marked the American debut of British director Alfred Hitchcock. In 1940, the film was released to glowing reviews and Joan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

She didn't win that year (Ginger Rogers took home the award for "Kitty Foyle") but Fontaine did win the following year for Best Actress in "Suspicion", which was also directed by Hitchcock. This is the only Academy Award winning performance directed by Hitchcock. [ [ Suspicion (1941) - Trivia ] ]

ibling rivalry

Olivia de Havilland was the first to become an actress; when her sister, Joan, tried to follow her lead, their mother, who allegedly favoured Olivia, refused to let her use the family name so Joan was forced to invent a name (Joan Burfield, and later Joan Fontaine, utilizing her own mother's former stage name).

Biographer Charles Higham records that the sisters have always had an uneasy relationship, starting in early childhood, when Olivia would rip up the clothes that Joan had to wear as hand-me-downs, forcing Joan to sew them back together. A lot of the feud and resentment between the sisters stems from Joan's perception of Olivia being their mother's favorite child.

Both Olivia and Joan were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942. Joan won first for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's "Suspicion" (1941) over Olivia's nomination for "Hold Back the Dawn" (1941). Higham states that Joan "felt guilty about winning; given her lack of obsessive career drive..."

Higham has described the events of the awards ceremony, stating that, as Joan stepped forward to collect her award, she pointedly rejected Olivia's attempts at congratulating her and that Olivia was both offended and embarrassed by her behavior. Several years later, Olivia would remember the slight and exact her own by brushing past Joan, who was waiting with her hand extended, because Olivia had allegedly taken offense at a comment Joan had made about Olivia's then-husband.

Olivia's relationship with Joan continued to deteriorate after the two incidents. Higham has stated that this was the near final straw for what would become a lifelong feud, but the sisters did not completely stop speaking until 1975.

According to Joan, Olivia did not invite her to a memorial service for their mother, who had recently died. Olivia claims she told Joan, but that Joan had brushed her off, claiming that she was too busy to attend.

Higham records that Joan has an estranged relationship with her own daughters as well, possibly because she discovered that they were secretly maintaining a relationship with their aunt Olivia.

Both sisters have refused to comment publicly about their feud and dysfunctional family relationship, unless you want to go by John Kobal's interview of Joan: with him she stated categorically that the so called rivalry was a pure hoax, cooked up by the studio publicity hounds.

Career rise

She went on to continued success in the 1940s, during which she excelled in romantic melodramas. Among her memorable films during this time were "The Constant Nymph" (1943), "Jane Eyre" (1944), "Ivy" (1947), and "Letter from an Unknown Woman" (1948). Her film successes slowed a bit during the 1950s and she also began appearing in television and on the stage. She won good reviews for her role on Broadway in 1954 as Laura in "Tea and Sympathy", opposite Anthony Perkins.

During the 1960s, she continued her stage appearances in several productions, among them "Private Lives", "Cactus Flower" and an Austrian production of "The Lion in Winter". Her last theatrical film was "The Witches" (1966), which she also co-produced. She made sporadic television appearances throughout the 1970s and 1980s and was nominated for an Emmy for the soap opera, "Ryan's Hope" in 1980.

She resides in Carmel, California, in relative seclusion.

Her autobiography, "No Bed of Roses", was published in 1978.

Marriages and personal life

Joan Fontaine was married and divorced four times:

* Brian Aherne (1939 - 1945)
* William Dozier (1946 - 1951)
* Collier Young (1952 - 1961)
* Alfred Wright, Jr. (1964 - 1969), a magazine editor.

She has one daughter, Deborah Leslie Dozier (born in 1948), from her union with Dozier, and another daughter, Martita, a Peruvian adoptee, who ran away from home. Joan Fontaine has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1645 Vine Street.

With the death of Katharine Hepburn in 2003, she and her sister (Olivia de Havilland) are considered to be the last remaining great leading ladies of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood.

Awards and Nominations


*"No More Ladies" (1935)
*"A Million to One" (1937)
*"Quality Street" (1937) (uncredited)
*"The Man Who Found Himself" (1937)
*"You Can't Beat Love" (1937)
*"Music for Madame" (1937)
*"A Damsel in Distress" (1937)
*"Maid's Night Out" (1938)
*"Blond Cheat" (1938)
*"Sky Giant" (1938)
*"The Duke of West Point" (1938)
*"Gunga Din" (1939)
*"Man of Conquest" (1939)
*"The Women" (1939)
*"Rebecca" (1940)
*"Suspicion" (1941)
*"This Above All" (1942)
*"The Constant Nymph" (1943)
*"Jane Eyre" (1944)
*"Frenchman's Creek" (1944)
*"The Affairs of Susan" (1945)
*"From This Day Forward" (1946)
*"Ivy" (1947)
*"Letter from an Unknown Woman" (1948)
*"The Emperor Waltz" (1948)
*"You Gotta Stay Happy" (1948)
*"Kiss the Blood Off My Hands" (1948)
*"September Affair" (1950)
*"Born to Be Bad" (1950)
*"Darling, How Could You!" (1951)
*"Something to Live For" (1952)
*"Othello" (1952)
*"Ivanhoe" (1952)
*"Decameron Nights" (1953)
*"Flight to Tangier" (1953)
*"The Bigamist" (1953)
*"Casanova's Big Night" (1954)
*"Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Mothers and Fathers" (1955) (short subject)
*"Serenade" (1956)
*"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" (1956)
*"Island in the Sun" (1957)
*"Until They Sail" (1957)
*"A Certain Smile" (1958)
*"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" (1961)
*"Tender Is the Night" (1962)
*"The Witches" (1966)
*"The Good King" (1994)

###@@@KEY@@@###s-achsuccession box
title=Academy Award for Best Actress
before=Ginger Rogers
for "Kitty Foyle"
for "Suspicion"
after=Greer Garson
for "Mrs. Miniver"
succession box
title = NYFCC Award for Best Actress
years = 1941
for "Suspicion"
before= Katharine Hepburn
for "The Philadelphia Story
after = Agnes Moorehead
for "The Magnificent Ambersons"


* Fontaine, Joan. "No Bed of Roses". Berkley Publishing Group, (1979) ISBN 0-425-05028-9
* Higham, Charles. "Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Haviland and Joan Fontaine". Coward McCann, May 1984, 257 pages.
* "Current Biography 1944". H.W. Wilson Company, 1945.

External links

* [ Photographs of Joan Fontaine]

NAME= Fontaine, Joan
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Havilland, Joan de Beauvoir de
DATE OF BIRTH= October 22, 1917
PLACE OF BIRTH= Tokyo, Japan

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