Joan Fontaine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Joan Fontaine
Joan Fontaine 1943.jpg
Joan Fontaine 1943
BornJoan de Beauvoir de Havilland
(1917-10-22)22 October 1917
Tokyo, Japan
Died15 December 2013(2013-12-15) (aged 96)
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, United States
Cause of death
Natural causes
ResidenceCarmel-by-the-Sea, California
Other namesJoan Burfield
Joan St. John
CitizenshipBritish
American[1]
EducationLos Gatos High School
American School in Japan
OccupationActress
Years active1935–1994
Spouse(s)Brian Aherne (m. 1939; div. 1945)
William Dozier (m. 1946; div. 1951)
Collier Young (m. 1952; div. 1961)
Alfred Wright, Jr. (m. 1964; div. 1969)
Children2 daughters
RelativesOlivia de Havilland (elder sister)
 
Jump to: navigation, search
Joan Fontaine
Joan Fontaine 1943.jpg
Joan Fontaine 1943
BornJoan de Beauvoir de Havilland
(1917-10-22)22 October 1917
Tokyo, Japan
Died15 December 2013(2013-12-15) (aged 96)
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, United States
Cause of death
Natural causes
ResidenceCarmel-by-the-Sea, California
Other namesJoan Burfield
Joan St. John
CitizenshipBritish
American[1]
EducationLos Gatos High School
American School in Japan
OccupationActress
Years active1935–1994
Spouse(s)Brian Aherne (m. 1939; div. 1945)
William Dozier (m. 1946; div. 1951)
Collier Young (m. 1952; div. 1961)
Alfred Wright, Jr. (m. 1964; div. 1969)
Children2 daughters
RelativesOlivia de Havilland (elder sister)

Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland (22 October 1917 – 15 December 2013), known professionally as Joan Fontaine, was a British-American actress. Fontaine began her career on the stage in 1935 and signed a contract with RKO Pictures that same year.

In 1941, she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her role in Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The following year, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941), making Fontaine the only actor to ever win an Academy Award in a film directed by Hitchcock.[2] Fontaine and her elder sister Olivia de Havilland are the only set of siblings to have won lead acting Academy Awards. During the 1940s to the 1990s, Fontaine continued her career in roles on the stage and in radio, television and film. She released her autobiography, No Bed of Roses, in 1978. After a career spanning over fifty years, Fontaine made her last on-screen appearance in 1994.

Born in Japan to British parents, the sisters moved to California in 1919. Fontaine lived in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where she owned a home, Villa Fontana. It was there that she died of natural causes at the age of 96 in 2013.

Early life[edit]

Joan de Havilland was born in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents. Her father, Walter Augustus de Havilland (31 August 1872 – 23 May 1968), was educated at the University of Cambridge and served as an English professor at the Imperial University in Tokyo before becoming a patent attorney with a practice in Japan.[3] Her mother, Lilian Augusta (née Ruse; 11 June 1886 – 20 February 1975),[4][5] was educated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and became a stage actress who left her career after going to Tokyo with her husband.[3] Her mother would return to work with the stage name "Lillian Fontaine" after her daughters achieved prominence in the 1940s. Joan's paternal cousin was Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882–1965), an aircraft designer known for the De Havilland Mosquito,[6] and founder of the aircraft company which bore his name. Her paternal grandfather, the Reverend Charles Richard de Havilland, was from a family from Guernsey, in the Channel Islands.[7][8]

Fontaine's parents married in 1914 and separated in 1919, when Lilian decided to end the marriage after discovering that her husband used the sexual services of geisha girls; the divorce was not finalized, however, until February 1925.[citation needed]

Taking a physician's advice, Lilian de Havilland moved Joan—reportedly a sickly child who had developed anaemia following a combined attack of the measles and a streptococcal infection—and her elder sister, Olivia, to the United States.[9] The family settled in Saratoga, California, and Fontaine's health improved dramatically. She was educated at Los Gatos High School, and was soon taking diction lessons alongside her elder sister. When she was 16 years old, Fontaine returned to Japan to live with her father. There she attended the American School in Japan, graduating in 1935.[10]

Career[edit]

The Women (1939)
Suspicion (1941), with Cary Grant
Jane Eyre (1943)

Fontaine made her stage debut in the West Coast production of Call It a Day (1935) and was soon signed to an RKO contract. Her film debut was a small role in No More Ladies (also 1935) in which she was credited as Joan Burfield.[11]

Although Fontaine, on contract with RKO, had already made her screen appearance in No More Ladies, a series of other minor roles followed, in A Million to One and Quality Street (both 1937), opposite Katharine Hepburn. The studio considered her a rising star, and touted The Man Who Found Himself (also 1937) as her first starring role, placing a special screen introduction, billed as the "new RKO screen personality" after the end credit.[12] She next appeared in a major role alongside Fred Astaire in his first RKO film without Ginger Rogers: A Damsel in Distress (1937) but audiences were disappointed and the film flopped. She continued appearing in small parts in about a dozen films, including The Women (1939), but failed to make a strong impression and her contract was not renewed when it expired in 1939.[11]

Fontaine's luck changed one night at a dinner party when she found herself seated next to producer David O. Selznick. She and Selznick began discussing the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca, and Selznick asked her to audition for the part of the unnamed heroine. She endured a grueling six-month series of film tests, along with hundreds of other actresses, before securing the part sometime before her 22nd birthday.

Rebecca, starring Laurence Olivier alongside Fontaine, marked the American debut of British director Alfred Hitchcock. In 1940, the film was released to glowing reviews, and Fontaine was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.[11] Fontaine did not win that year (Ginger Rogers took home the award for Kitty Foyle), but she did win the following year for Best Actress in Suspicion, which co-starred Cary Grant and was also directed by Hitchcock.[11] This was to be the only Academy Award-winning acting performance to have been directed by Hitchcock.[2]

During the 1940s, Fontaine excelled in romantic melodramas. Among her memorable films during this time were The Constant Nymph (1943) (for which she received her third Academy Award nomination),[11] Jane Eyre (1943), Ivy (1947) and Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948).

Her film successes slowed a little during the 1950s, and she also began appearing in television and on the stage. She won good reviews for her role on Broadway in 1954 as Laura in Tea and Sympathy, opposite Anthony Perkins. She also appeared in numerous radio shows during the 1940s for the Lux Radio Theater.

Later career[edit]

During the 1960s, Fontaine appeared in several stage productions, including Private Lives, Cactus Flower and an Austrian production of The Lion in Winter. Her last theatrical film was The Witches (1966), which she also co-produced. She continued appearing in film and television roles throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for the soap opera Ryan's Hope in 1980.

Fontaine's autobiography, No Bed of Roses, was published in 1978.

Fontaine's last role for television was in the 1994 TV film Good King Wenceslas, after which she retired to her estate, Villa Fontana, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California where she would spend time in her gardens and with her dogs.[13]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Fontaine has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1645 Vine Street. She left her hand and foot prints in front of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre on May 26, 1942.

Personal life[edit]

Fontaine held dual citizenship; she was British by birthright (both her parents were British) and became an American citizen in April 1943.[14][15]

Marriages and children[edit]

Fontaine was married and divorced four times. Her first marriage was to actor Brian Aherne, in 1939 in Del Monte, California; they divorced in April 1945.[16]

In May 1946, she married actor/producer William Dozier in Mexico City. They had a daughter, Deborah Leslie, in 1948 and separated in 1949.[17] The following year, Fontaine filed for divorce, charging Dozier with desertion. Their divorce was finalized in January 1951.[18][19]

Fontaine's third marriage was to producer and writer Collier Young on 12 November 1952. They separated in May 1960, and Fontaine filed for divorce in November 1960.[20] Their divorce was finalized in January 1961.[21] Fontaine's fourth and final marriage was to Sports Illustrated golf editor Alfred Wright, Jr, on 23 January 1964 in Elkton, Maryland; they divorced in 1969.[22]

While in South America for a film festival in 1951, Fontaine met a 4-year-old Peruvian girl named Martita, and informally adopted her.[23] Fontaine met Martita while visiting Incan ruins where Martita's father worked as a caretaker. Martita's parents allowed Fontaine to become Martita's legal guardian in order to give the child a better life.[23] Fontaine promised Martita's parents she would send the girl back to Peru to visit when Martita was 16 years old. When Martita turned 16, Fontaine bought her a round-trip ticket to Peru, but Martita refused to go and opted to run away. Fontaine and Martita became estranged following the incident. While promoting her autobiography in 1978, Fontaine addressed the issue stating, "Until my adopted daughter goes back to see her parents, she's not welcome. I promised her parents. I do not forgive somebody who makes me break my word."[24]

Sibling rivalry[edit]

Fontaine's sister Olivia de Havilland, 1940s

Fontaine and her sister, Olivia de Havilland, are the only set of siblings to have won lead acting Academy Awards. De Havilland was the first to become an actress; when Fontaine tried to follow her lead, their mother, who allegedly favored de Havilland, refused to let her use the family name. Subsequently, Fontaine had to invent a name, taking first Joan Burfield, and later Joan Fontaine. Biographer Charles Higham records that the sisters had an uneasy relationship from early childhood, when de Havilland would rip up the clothes Fontaine had to wear as hand-me-downs, forcing Fontaine to sew them back together. A large part of the friction between the sisters allegedly stemmed from Fontaine's belief that de Havilland was their mother's favorite child.[25]

Fontaine and Gary Cooper holding their Oscars at the Academy Awards, 1942

De Havilland and Fontaine were both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942. Fontaine won for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion over de Havilland's performance in Hold Back the Dawn. Higham states that Fontaine "felt guilty about winning given her lack of obsessive career drive...". Higham has described the events of the awards ceremony, stating that as Fontaine stepped forward to collect her award, she pointedly rejected de Havilland's attempts at congratulating her and that de Havilland was both offended and embarrassed by her behavior. Several years later, de Havilland remembered the slight and exacted her own revenge by brushing past Fontaine, who was waiting with her hand extended, because de Havilland allegedly took offense at a comment Fontaine had made about de Havilland's husband. Their relationship continued to deteriorate after the two incidents. Higham has stated that this was almost the last straw in establishing what became a lifelong feud, but the sisters did not completely stop speaking to each other until 1975.

In a 1979 interview, Fontaine claimed the reason the sisters stopped speaking to each other was that de Havilland wanted their mother (who was suffering from cancer) to be treated surgically at the advanced age of 88, which Fontaine apparently did not think was a good idea. Fontaine claims that after their mother died, Olivia did not bother to try to find out where she could be reached (Fontaine was on tour in a play). Instead, de Havilland sent a telegram, which did not arrive until two weeks later at Fontaine's next stop.[26] According to Fontaine, de Havilland did not invite her to a memorial service for their mother.[citation needed] De Havilland claims she informed Fontaine, but Fontaine brushed her off, claiming she was too busy to attend.[citation needed]

Both sisters mostly refused to comment publicly about their relationship. In a 1978 interview, however, Fontaine said of the sibling rivalry, "I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she'll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!"[27] Higham records that Fontaine had an estranged relationship with her own daughters as well, possibly because she discovered that they were secretly maintaining a relationship with de Havilland.[25]

Death[edit]

On 15 December 2013, Fontaine died in her sleep of natural causes at the age of 96 in her Carmel home.[28]

After Fontaine's death, Olivia de Havilland released a statement saying she was "shocked and saddened" by the news.[29]

Fontaine was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea.[30]

Filmography[edit]

Film
YearTitleRoleNotes
1935No More LadiesCaroline 'Carrie' RumseyCredited as Joan Burfield
1937A Million to OneJoan Stevens
Quality StreetCharlotte ParrattUncredited
The Man Who Found HimselfNurse Doris King
You Can't Beat LoveTrudy Olson
Music for MadameJean Clemens
A Damsel in DistressLady Alyce Marshmorton
1938Maid's Night OutSheila Harrison
Blond CheatJuliette 'Julie' Evans
Sky GiantMeg Lawrence
The Duke of West PointAnn Porter
1939Gunga DinEmmy
Man of ConquestEliza Allen
The WomenMrs. John Day (Peggy)
1940RebeccaThe second Mrs. de WinterNew York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (3rd place)
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actress
1941SuspicionLinaAcademy Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
1942This Above AllPrudence Cathaway
1943The Constant NymphTessa SangerNominated-Academy Award for Best Actress
Jane EyreJane Eyre (as an adult)
1944Frenchman's CreekDona St. Columb
1945The Affairs of SusanSusan Darell
1946From This Day ForwardSusan Cummings
1947IvyIvy
1948Letter from an Unknown WomanLisa Berndle
The Emperor WaltzCountess Johanna Augusta Franziska
You Gotta Stay HappyDee Dee Dillwood
Kiss the Blood Off My HandsJane Wharton
1950September AffairMarianne 'Manina' Stuart
Born to Be BadChristabel Caine Carey
1951Darling, How Could You!Alice Grey
1952Something to Live ForJenny Carey
OthelloPageUncredited
IvanhoeRowena
1953Decameron NightsFiametta/Bartolomea/Ginevra/Isabella
Flight to TangierSusan Lane
The BigamistEve Graham
1954Casanova's Big NightFrancesca BruniAlternative title: Mr. Casanova
1956SerenadeKendall Hale
Beyond a Reasonable DoubtSusan Spencer
1957Island in the SunMavis Norman
Until They SailAnnelise
1958A Certain SmileFrançoise Ferrand
1961Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaDr. Susan Hiller
1962Tender Is the NightBaby Warren
1966The WitchesGwen MayfieldAlternative title: The Devil's Own
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1953–1954Four Star PlayhouseTrudyepisode: "Trudy"
episode: "The Girl on the Park Bench"
1956The Ford Television TheatreJulieepisode: "Your Other Love"
1956The 20th Century Fox HourLynne Abbottepisode: "Stranger In the Night"
1956–1957The Joseph Cotten ShowAdrienneepisode: "Fatal Charm"
episode: "The De Santre Story"
1956–1960General Electric TheaterLinda Stacey
Judith
Laurel Chapman
Melanie Langdon
Countess Irene Forelli
episode: "A Possibility of Oil"
episode: "The Story of Judith"
episode: "At Miss Minner's"
episode: "The Victorian Chaise Lounge"
episode: "In Summer Promise"
1959Westinghouse Desilu PlayhouseMargaret Lewisepisode: "Perilous"
1960StartimeJulie Forbesepisode: "Closed Set"
1960Alcoa Presents: One Step BeyondEllen Graysonepisode: "The Visitor"
1961The Light That FailedHostessTV movie
1961CheckmateKaren Lawsonepisode: "Voyage Into Fear"
1962The Dick Powell ShowValerie Baumerepisode: "The Clocks"
1963Wagon TrainNaomi Kaylorepisode: "The Naomi Kaylor Story"
1963The Alfred Hitchcock HourAlice Pembertonepisode: "The Paragon"
1965The Bing Crosby ShowMrs. Taylorepisode: "Operation Man Save"
1975CannonThelma Cainepisode: "The Star"
1978The UsersGrace St. George
1980Ryan's HopePaige Williams5 episodes
Nominated – Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest/Cameo Appearance in a Daytime Drama Series
1981The Love BoatJennifer Langleyepisode: "Chef's Special/Beginning Anew/Kleinschmidt"
1983Bare EssenceLauraepisode: "Hour Four"
episode: "Hour Five"
1986CrossingsAlexandra Markham
1986HotelRuth Eastonepisode: "Harassed"
1986Dark MansionsMargaret DrakeTV film
1994Good King WenceslasQueen LudmillaTV film

Broadway credits[edit]

DateProductionRole
30 September 1953 – 18 June 1955Tea and SympathyLaura Reynolds
26 December 1968 – 7 November 1970Forty CaratsAnn Stanley

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAwardCategoryTitle of workResult
1940Academy AwardBest ActressRebeccaNominated
1941Academy AwardBest ActressSuspicionWon
1941NYFCC AwardBest ActressSuspicionWon
1943Academy AwardBest ActressThe Constant NymphNominated
1947Golden Apple AwardMost Cooperative ActressWon
1980Daytime Emmy AwardOutstanding Guest/Cameo Appearance in a Daytime Drama SeriesRyan's HopeNominated

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Weatherford 2010, p. 302.
  2. ^ a b Booker 2011, p. 134.
  3. ^ a b Thomas 1983, p. 20.
  4. ^ "Olivia Mary de Havilland at ThePeerage.com; retrieved 15 February 2013.
  5. ^ Olivia de Havilland profile at FilmReference.com; retrieved 15 February 2013.
  6. ^ French, Philip. "Screen Legends No.73". The Observer, Review Section, 2009.
  7. ^ Beeman 1994, p. 24.
  8. ^ Thomson 2010, p. 339.
  9. ^ Fontaine 1978, p. 19.
  10. ^ "Prominent Alumni." asij.ac.jp. Retrieved: 6 October 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d e Quinlan 1996, pp. 172–173.
  12. ^ Fristoe, Roger. "Articles: The Man Who Found Himself." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 11 October 2012.
  13. ^ Rush, George, Joanna Molloy and Barid Jones. "A Catalogue Of Complaints For Fontaine." New York Daily News, 23 June 1996. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Joan Fontaine To Seek Divorce." The Evening Independent, 28 March 1944. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Joan Fontaine Now a Citizen." The Milwaukee Journal, 23 April 1943, p. 1. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Joan Fontaine, A Guest No More, Wins Freedom." St. Petersburg Times, 3 June 1944, p. 5. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Joan Fontaine And Husband Separate." Daytona Beach Morning Journal, 4 August 1949, p. 14. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  18. ^ "Joan Fontaine Sues Producer for Divorce." The Los Angeles Times, 9 November 1950, p. 2. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  19. ^ "Husband Just Walked Out, Joan Fontaine Asserts." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 26 January 1951, p. 2. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  20. ^ "Joan Fontaine Sues 3rd Mate For Divorce." Ocala Star-Banner, 6 November 1960, p. 3. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  21. ^ "Joan Fontaine Gets Divorce." The New York Times, 4 January 1961. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  22. ^ "Names In The News." Tri City Herald, 24 January 1964, p. 7. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
  23. ^ a b Wilson, Earl (11 July 1954). "Joan Fontaine Describes How She Adopted Inca Girl". New York Post via Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 9. Retrieved December 2012. 
  24. ^ Flander, Judy (30 September 1978). "Former Movie Queen Joan Fontaine Turns Author at 60". The Times-Union. p. 7. Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  25. ^ a b Higham 1984, p. 257.
  26. ^ "RetroBites: Joan Fontaine – Sisters (1979)" on Youtube, 2 December 2010.
  27. ^ Interview in The Hollywood Reporter (1978), quoted in "Joan Fontaine profile in". The Washington Post. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  28. ^ Barnes, Mike (15 December 2013). "Legendary Actress Joan Fontaine Dies at 96". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  29. ^ "Olivia de Havilland "shocked and saddened" by sister Joan Fontaine's death". cbsnews.com. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  30. ^ http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=121786092.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Bibliography[edit]

  • Beeman, Marsha Lynn. Joan Fontaine: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1994. ISBN 978-0-31328-409-0.
  • Booker, M. Keith. Historical Dictionary of American Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2011. ISBN 0-8108-7192-0.
  • Current Biography 1944. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1945.
  • Fontaine, Joan. No Bed of Roses: An Autobiography. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1978. ISBN 978-0-68803-344-6.
  • Higham, Charles. Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine. New York: Coward McCann, 1984. ISBN 978-0-69811-268-1.
  • Laufenberg, Norbert B. Entertainment Celebrities. London: Trafford Publishing, 2005. ISBN 1-4120-5335-8.
  • Quinlan, David. Quinlan's Film Stars. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1996. ISBN 0-7134-7751-2.
  • Weatherford, Doris. American Women During World War II: An Encyclopedia. London: Taylor & Francis, 2010. ISBN 978-0-41599-475-0.

External links[edit]