Joan Fontaine

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Joan Fontaine (1945)

Joan Fontaine (born October 22, 1917 in Tokyo - † December 15, 2013 in Carmel-by-the-Sea , California ; actually Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland ) was a British - American actress . Her most famous roles were played by Olivia de Havilland's sister, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, in Rebecca and Suspicion . For the latter, she was awarded the Oscar for best leading actress in 1942 .


Joan Fontaine was born in Tokyo as the daughter of the British patent attorney Walter Augustus de Havilland (1872-1968), a cousin of the aviation pioneer and engineer Geoffrey de Havilland , and the British actress Lillian Fontaine . She and her one year older sister Olivia de Havilland moved with their mother to California after their parents' divorce, where they both received acting lessons at an early age. Joan went back to Japan for a few years in the early 1930s, where she finished her education at the American school.

In 1934 she returned to the USA, where her sister was already enjoying her first successes in Hollywood , and made her debut as a theater actress in Los Angeles in 1935. In contrast to Olivia, who used the family name, Joan first appeared under the stage names St. John and Burfield. In 1935 she played as Joan Burfield in No More Ladies alongside Joan Crawford , but the audience and critics were initially unimpressed by the actress. In 1937, under a studio contract with RKO , the career of Joan Fontaine, as she was now called, took shape. At the side of Fred Astaire she played the female lead in 1937 A Fraulein In Need , followed by supporting roles in Uprising in Sidi Hakim and Revenge for Alamo , both of which came on loan in 1939. That same year she starred in The Women alongside Norma Shearer , Rosalind Russell , Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard and Mary Boland .

She celebrated her breakthrough in 1940 when she was selected by David O. Selznick for the lead role in Rebecca , the film adaptation of the bestselling novel by Daphne du Maurier of the same name . Fontaine received an Oscar nomination for best actress for her performance directed by Alfred Hitchcock . However, the actress paid for her breakthrough as a star with a long-term contractual relationship with Selznick, whom she could lend to other studios at will and only paid her a fraction of the negotiated fee. Ingrid Bergman , who was also under contract with Selznick, later referred to this method as a form of slavery. Fontaine shot again in 1941 directed by Hitchcock Suspicion . Fontaine played a frightened young woman who suspects her husband, played by Cary Grant , of wanting to murder her. For her portrayal, she was awarded the Oscar for best leading actress at the 1942 Academy Awards . Fontaine became the only person who could ever win an Oscar for her acting directed by Hitchcock.

In the following years Fontaine was seen in numerous lavishly staged films. She starred in the literary film This Above All opposite Tyrone Power and received another Academy Award nomination for best actress for love affliction , which showed her in 1943 alongside Charles Boyer . Her portrayal of Jane Eyre alongside Orson Welles in The Orphan of Lowood brought her good reviews in 1944. In the same year she starred in The Pirate and the Lady , the big money staged film adaptation of the book Frenchman Creek by Daphne du Maurier, in a role reminiscent of the films Margaret Lockwood and Phyllis Calvert were in at the time England turned - as a well-born lady by day, mistress of a criminal by night and with many romantic entanglements. Her personal favorite film was Max Ophüls ' Brief einer Unbekannten , a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Stefan Zweig from 1948, which she co-produced after the termination of her contract with Selznick and in which she took on the leading female role. In sharp contrast to her other roles was her appearance as a murderous adventurer in Ivy and her embodiment of an almost raped woman in the film noir Until the Last Hour , which shows Fontaine alongside Burt Lancaster .

By the end of the 1940s, her star dropped rapidly, mainly because the market for romantic melodramas, which was her strong point, was no longer needed. In the early 1950s, the actress was in Born to Be Bad , For What Life Is Worth It, and Ivanhoe - The Black Knight . In the film The Man with the Two Women , as with Ivy , she and her mother Lillian Fontaine stood in front of the camera. After her appearance in 1966 in the awesome film The Devil Dances at Midnight , she only appeared in television productions, including guest roles in Love Boat and Hotel in the 1980s . In 1982 she was president of the jury at the Berlinale . After the television production The Good King , she said goodbye to the film business in 1994 and lived in seclusion in California until her death on December 15, 2013.

Private life

Joan Fontaine's hobbies were hot air ballooning, recreational aviation and deep sea fishing. In her autobiography No Bed of Roses , published in 1979, she frankly described countless affairs and a pronounced disinterest in her daughters, which she found more of a burden. The lack of motherly love is said to have been the main criticism of her sister Olivia. Joan Fontaine was married four times and was divorced just as often. Her first marriage was to Brian Aherne from 1939 to 1945 . In 1946 she married William Dozier , the father of their biological daughter, Deborah Leslie Dozier, who was born in 1948; the marriage was divorced in 1951. From 1952 to 1961, she was married to screenwriter and producer Collier Young . Her marriage to sports journalist Alfred Wright Jr. held from 1964 to 1967.

In 1943, in addition to British citizenship, she also took on American citizenship.



Other prizes and honors

Filmography (selection)


watch TV

  • 1961: The Light That Failed (TV movie)
  • 1963 Alfred Hitchcock presented (TV series, an episode)
  • 1978: The Users (TV movie)
  • 1980: Ryan's Hope (TV series)
  • 1981: Love Boat (TV series)
  • 1983: Bare Essence (TV movie)
  • 1986: Dark Mansions (TV movie)
  • 1986: Hotel (TV series)
  • 1994: The Good King ( Good King Wenceslas , TV movie)

Web links

Commons : Joan Fontaine  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Anita Gates: Joan Fontaine, Who Won an Oscar for Hitchcock's 'Suspicion,' Dies at 96 . The New York Times , December 15, 2013, accessed November 30, 2014.
  2. Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine dies aged 96 . BBC News , December 16, 2013, accessed October 22, 2017.