RIP the great star Joan Fontaine: 1917-2013
Olivia de Havilland must be furious.
First, her younger sister, Joan Fontaine, won the Oscar before her. Then Joan got married first and had a child first.
Now she has died first.
The star of such films as Suspicion (Oscar win), Jane Eyre, Rebecca (Oscar nomination), Letter From an Unknown Woman, Ivanhoe, The Constant Nymph (Oscar nomination) and Island in the Sun, died at her home in Carmel, CA, earlier today at the age of 96.
Her Oscar winning sister, Gone With the Wind star de Havilland, is 97 and lives in Paris.
The two film legends, who had a prickly relationship during the best of times, had not spoken in almost 40 years.
Fontaine, one year younger, had managed to emerge from the shadow of older sister thanks to her landing the leads in two back-to-back Alfred Hitchcock films: Rebecca opposite Laurence Olivier in 1940 and Suspicion opposite Cary Grant a year later.
When she won the Oscar for Suspicion she beat out Greer Garson, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck and – get this – her sister Olivia!
Her 1978 autobiography, No Bed of Roses painted a very unflattering portrait of sister Olivia whom she has not spoken to since the mid-70s. It appears that neither was interested in reconciling even in their 90s.
Still, for two sisters to have achieved such stardom (Olivia went on to win two Oscars) is pretty amazing. The only comparable siblings would be Oscar winners Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty.
Below is a fascinating 1979 interview in which Miss Fontaine talks about having no memory of her sister displaying any act of kindness towards her as a child and how their mother’s death in 1975 resulted in their final falling out.