Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine
Universal Pictures


Joan Fontaine
Film: West side of the 1600 block of Vine Street
Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland on Oct. 22, 1917 in Tokyo, Japan
Died Dec. 15, 2013 in Carmel, Calif.

Joan Fontaine made her mark as a coolly beautiful 1940s actress who won an Oscar for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” and who became almost as well-known for her lifelong feud with her famous older sister, Olivia de Havilland.

Her 1978 memoir "No Bed of Roses" recounted an unhappy childhood in a broken home, a toxic and obsessive rivalry with her elder sister, and a difficult relationship with her father and stepfather, an ambivalent one with her mother.

Indeed, when her mother died, Olivia and the executor of her mother's will "had taken full charge, making all arrangements, disposing of mother's effects as well as her body without bothering to consult me."

Fontaine went on to write that although two of her ex-husbands, including actor Brian Aherne, were asked by the executor to deliver eulogies for her mother, no invitation was extended to Fontaine or her daughter Deborah.

The memoir also revisited her struggle for parts in the shadow of her successful sister [she had used her stepfather's name to avoid comparisons but was quickly found out], as well as what came after being the youngest leading lady at that time to win an Oscar.

"I have found no lasting romance, no marriage I could salvage without jeopardizing my own happiness or freedom, my own brand of integrity. My career is the result of opportunity and luck as much as anything else."

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Points of interest

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1940 Best Actress Rebecca Nomination
    1941 Best Actress Suspicion Win
    1943 Best Actress The Constant Nymph Nomination

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