Table of Contents
Joan Fontaine biography
Joan Fontaine was a British-American actress who achieved fame and acclaim during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Here is a brief biography of Joan Fontaine:
- Early Life: Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland was born on October 22, 1917, in Tokyo, Japan. She was the younger sister of Olivia de Havilland, who also became a renowned actress. The family later moved to California.
- Acting Career: Joan Fontaine began her acting career on the stage and made her film debut in the 1935 film “No More Ladies.” She struggled initially but gained recognition with her role in “The Man Who Found Himself” (1937).
- Breakthrough Role: Fontaine’s breakthrough came with her role in “Rebecca” (1940), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Her performance as the timid and haunted second Mrs. de Winter earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
- Academy Award Win: Joan Fontaine won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in “Suspicion” (1941), making her the only actor to ever win an Oscar in a Hitchcock film.
- Sibling Rivalry: Joan Fontaine had a well-publicized rivalry with her sister, Olivia de Havilland, which lasted for many years. Both sisters were successful actresses and were nominated for Oscars multiple times.
- Notable Films: In addition to “Rebecca” and “Suspicion,” Fontaine starred in other notable films such as “Jane Eyre” (1943), “The Constant Nymph” (1943), and “Letter from an Unknown Woman” (1948).
- Personal Life: Joan Fontaine was married four times and had one child. Her marriages included unions with actors Brian Aherne and William Dozier.
- Retirement: Fontaine’s last film role was in “The Witches” (1966). She made a few television appearances but largely retired from acting in the 1960s.
- Autobiography: Fontaine wrote an autobiography titled “No Bed of Roses,” in which she discussed her life, career, and her relationship with her sister, Olivia de Havilland.
- Later Life: After her retirement from acting, Fontaine lived a relatively private life. She passed away on December 15, 2013, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, at the age of 96.
Joan Fontaine’s contributions to the world of cinema, particularly her work with Alfred Hitchcock, are still celebrated today. Her talent and her memorable performances in classic films have left a lasting legacy in Hollywood history.
Trivia of Joan Fontaine
Here are some trivia facts about Joan Fontaine:
- Stage Name: Joan Fontaine’s real birth name was Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland. She adopted the stage name “Fontaine” to avoid confusion with her older sister, Olivia de Havilland, who was already a well-known actress.
- Sibling Rivalry: The rivalry between Joan Fontaine and her sister Olivia de Havilland was a well-documented and long-standing feud. They both had successful acting careers and were nominated for Oscars multiple times. Joan won the Oscar for “Suspicion” in 1941, while Olivia won the award multiple times.
- Unique Oscar Win: Joan Fontaine’s Oscar win for “Suspicion” was unique because she played a character who suspected her husband of trying to kill her. It was one of the few instances where an actor won an Oscar for a role that required the character to be suspicious of their spouse.
- Age Difference: Joan Fontaine was born about 15 months after her sister Olivia, making her the younger of the two.
- First British Actress to Win an Oscar: With her win for “Suspicion,” Joan Fontaine became the first British actress to win an Academy Award.
- Versatile Actress: Fontaine was known for her versatility as an actress, successfully portraying a wide range of characters, from the timid and vulnerable to the strong and independent.
- Hitchcock Collaborations: Joan Fontaine worked with director Alfred Hitchcock twice in her career, first in “Rebecca” (1940) and later in “Suspicion” (1941). Both films garnered critical acclaim, and she received Oscar nominations for both roles.
- Fourth Marriage: Fontaine’s fourth and final husband was Alfred Wright Jr., a professional golfer. They were married from 1964 until his death in 1976.
- Autobiography: In her autobiography, “No Bed of Roses,” Fontaine opened up about her life, career, and her complicated relationship with her sister Olivia.
- Retirement: After her retirement from acting, Joan Fontaine lived a relatively private life, occasionally making public appearances at events and film festivals. She largely stayed out of the public eye in her later years.
- Longevity: Joan Fontaine lived to be 96 years old, passing away in 2013. Her long and storied career in Hollywood and her enduring legacy in film history continue to be remembered and celebrated.