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Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine
'''Joan Fontaine''' (born October 22, 1917) is a British American actress who has starred in American films. She became an American citizen in April 1943.


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Joan de Beauvior de Havilland
Tokyo Japan
United Kingdom
Beautiful Petite Elegant

Joan Fontaine (born October 22, 1917) is a British American actress who has starred in American films. She became an American citizen in April 1943. She is the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland, also an Academy Award winner. Along with Luise Rainer, Gloria Stuart, Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin and her sister, Olivia de Havilland, Fontaine is one of the last surviving female stars from Hollywood of the 1930s.

Joan Fontaine 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 (b. 1916), from whom she has been estranged for many decades, not speaking at all since 1975. They both attended Los Gatos High School and the Notre Dame Convent Roman Catholic girl’s school in Belmont, California. Her paternal cousin is Sir Geoffrey de Havilland.

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. When she was fifteen, Joan returned to Japan and lived with her father for two years.

Joan Fontaine Stage 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.

Joan Fontaine 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 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.

Joan Fontaine 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. In 1956, she appeared with Eduard Franz in the NBC anthology series The Joseph Cotten Show. She appeared as herself in 1957 in the CBS sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve, starring Howard Duff and Ida Lupino. She had a guest role on ABC's short-lived sitcom, The Bing Crosby Show, in the 1964-1965 season. She continued appearing in the 1970s and 1980s and was nominated for an Emmy Award 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.

Joan Fontaine Personal life

Joan Fontaine Marriages and Children

Joan Fontaine was married and divorced four times:

Brian Aherne (1939 - 1945)
William Dozier (1946 - 1951)
Collier Young (1952 - 1961), previoiusly married to Ida Lupino
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.

Joan Fontaine Sibling Rivalry

Of the two sisters, 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.

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.

Joan Fontaine Trivia

Younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland.

Daughter of film and stage actress Lillian Fontaine.

Joked that the musical comedy A Damsel in Distress (1937) set her career back four years. At the premiere, a woman sitting behind her loudly exclaimed, "Isn't she awful!" during Fontaine's onscreen attempt at dancing.

Attended Oak Street School in Saratoga, California.

She is a licensed pilot, champion balloonist, expert rider, prize-winning tuna fisherman, a hole-in-one golfer, Cordon Bleu chef and licensed interior decorator.

At the age of three she scored 160 on an infant IQ test.

Took her stage name from her step-father, George Fontaine.

The only actor or actress to win an acting Oscar in a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. She won Best Actress for Hitchcock's 1941 film Suspicion (1941).

Became pregnant twice in 1964, at the age of 46, but miscarried both times.

First husband Brian Aherne had a friend call her the night before their wedding to tell her he had cold feet and couldn't marry her. Joan told the friend to tell him it was too late to call it off, that he had better be at the altar the next morning to marry her, and he could divorce her afterwards if he wanted. He was there at the altar and they remained married six years, never mentioning this incident to each other.

Daughter, Martita, born 3 November 1946, adopted 1952. Ran away in 1963. When Joan found her she was refused contact with the child on the premise that her Peruvian adoption was not valid in the United States. Martita maintained a relationship with her sister Debbie, but never spoke to or saw Joan again.

Howard Hughes, who dated her sister Olivia de Havilland for awhile, proposed to Joan many times.

She and Olivia de Havilland are the first sisters to win Oscars and the first ones to be Oscar-nominated in the same year.

Head of jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1982

When her sister, Olivia de Havilland, was 9 years old, she made a will in which she stated "I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister Joan, since she has none".

Ex-sister-in-law of Pierre Galante and Marcus Goodrich.

Her autobiography No Bed of Roses was published in 1979. Ex-husband William Dozier thought a more appropriate title should have been No Shred of Truth.

Relations between Fontaine and her sister Olivia de Havilland were never strong but worsened in 1941, when both were nominated for best actress Oscar. Their mutual dislike and jealousy escalated into an all-out feud after Fontaine won for Suspicion (1941). Despite the fact de Havilland went on to win two Academy Awards of her own, they have remained permanently estranged.

In Italy, almost all of her films were dubbed by Lidia Simoneschi. She was occasionally dubbed by Rosetta Calavetta and Renata Marini. She was dubbed once by Micaela Giustiniani in The Women (1939), once by Dina Perbellini and once by Paola Barbara in Suspicion (1941).

Vice-President Emeritus of the Episcopal Actors' Guild of America.

Worked tirelessly as a nurses' aide during WWII and made numerous appearances at the Hollywood Canteen in support of American troops.

She became an American citizen on April 23, 1943.

Alfred Hitchcock and George Cukor were her favorite directors.

According to an in-depth article on Joan by Rod Labbe in "Classic Images" magazine, Joan was offered the role of Karen Holmes, the Army wife and adulteress, in James Jones' From Here to Eternity (1953) by Columbia after it had purchased the film rights. Joan was subsequently forced to decline the role because, at the time, she was embroiled in a particularly ugly custody battle over daughter Deborah from William Dozier. Leaving California to film extensively in Hawaii would have jeopardized Joan's case. The part went to second choice Deborah Kerr, who earned an Oscar nomination. Joan later replaced Ms. Kerr on Broadway in the original production of "Tea and Sympathy".

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