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Were Oscar winning sisters Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland no longer feuding?

Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter did something amazing in the past year: he interviewed both Olivia de Havilland and her sister Joan Fontaine.

The chat with de Havilland took place in person while Feinberg spoke with Fontaine on the phone.

Fontaine died Sunday at the age of 96. De Havilland is 97 and lives in Paris.

It appears these two stars from Hollywood’s golden era did have contact over the years and that their mother’s death in 1975 did not sever all ties forever as Fontaine had vowed it would.

The article is a must read and here is a LINK.

Here are some highlights during which Fontaine addresses their legendary feud:

She tells Feinberg: “This ‘Olivia feud’ has always irritated me because it has no basis. To this day it has no basis!”

Hmmm. Had she read her own 1978 book No Bed of Roses? Fontaine seemed to have some amnesia about what she had written.

Feinberg writes: So, I asked Joan, are the two of you friends? “Of course!” Wow — well, I’m glad to know that, I responded. I guess some people like to sensationalize things. “Oh, right — they have to. Two nice girls liking each other isn’t copy.” So today you and Olivia are in communication? You talk to each other? “Absolutely.” Wow. Well, that’s amazing. I’m so happy to hear that. “Oh, sure.” Later in the conversation, I felt that I had to clarify what I had heard earlier. Was there ever a time when you two did not get along to the point where you wouldn’t speak with one another? “Never. Never. There is not a word of truth about that.” Why do you think people believe that? “Oh, I have no idea. It’s just something to say.” Well, that’s not fair to you. “Oh, it’s terrible.” And have you seen Olivia over the years? “I’ve seen her in Paris. And she came to my apartment in New York often.” I have to say that this is such a nice thing to hear because I was sad to think that you two were on poor terms. “Let me just say, Olivia and I have never had a quarrel. We have never had any dissatisfaction. We have never had hard words. And all this is press.”

Fontaine does recall for Feinberg the night she beat her sister for the Oscar, winning best actress for Suspicion: I asked Joan about that moment and she recalled, “I was terrified because of Olivia,” adding with a laugh, “I’m still afraid of her!” Of beating her sister to an Oscar she said half-jokingly, “That was such a mean thing for me to do,” and then more seriously added, “When I did get it, everybody said, ‘Oh, boy, you should have got that for the other one [Rebecca],’ so I didn’t get any satisfaction out of it at all.”

It’s all quite fascinating and one does hope that since they were each other’s only sibling, they had re-established contact. It’s also become clear that de Havilland remained quite close to her Fontaine’s daughter Deborah.

Feinberg’s article also puts into context a few of their most famous feuds on the nights that each won the Academy Award.



(All comments are reviewed before being published, and I review submissions several times per day.)

One Remark

  1. December 19th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
    Gaspar Marino says:


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