Studio publicity photograph
|Born||Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland
October 22, 1917
|Other names||Joan Burfield|
|Education||Los Gatos High School
American School in Japan
Alfred Wright, Jr.
|Relatives||Olivia de Havilland (sister)|
Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland (born 22 October 1917), known professionally as Joan Fontaine, is a British American actress. Born in Japan to British parents, de Havilland and her older sister Olivia de Havilland moved to California in 1919. Fontaine began her career on the stage in 1935 and signed a contract with RKO Pictures that same year.
In 1941, she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her role in Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The following year, she won the Best Actress Academy Award for Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941), the only actress Academy Award ever won in a film directed by Hitchcock. Fontaine and sister de Havilland are the only 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 50 years, Fontaine made her last on-screen appearance in 1994.
Fontaine currently lives in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California where she owns a home, Villa Fontana. Fontaine and sister de Havilland are two of the last surviving leading ladies from Hollywood of the 1930s.
Early life 
Born in Tokyo, Japan, to parents from the United Kingdom. Her father, Walter Augustus de Havilland (31 August 1872 – 23 May 1968; aged 95), was a patent attorney with a practice in Japan, and her mother, Lilian Augusta (née Ruse; 11 June 1886 – 20 February 1975; aged 88) was a stage actress who had left her career after going to Tokyo with her husband – she would return to work after her daughters had already won fame in the 40s, with the stage name of Lillian Fontaine. De Havilland'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.
Fontaine was reportedly a sickly child who developed anaemia following a combined attack of the measles and a streptococcal infection. Taking a physician's advice, their mother moved Joan and her sister to the United States. 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 where she graduated in 1935.
Fontaine made her stage debut in the West Coast production of Call It a Day in 1935 and was soon signed to an RKO contract. Her film debut was a small role in No More Ladies (1935) (in which she was billed as Joan Burfield).
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 (1937) and Quality Street (1937), opposite Katharine Hepburn. The studio considered her a rising star, and touted The Man Who Found Himself as her first starring role, placing a special screen introduction, billed as the "new RKO screen personality" after the end credit. 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.
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 some time 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. Fontaine did not win that year (Ginger Rogers took home the award for Kitty Foyle), but Fontaine did win the following year for Best Actress in Suspicion, which co-starred Cary Grant and was also directed by Hitchcock. This is the only Academy Award winning performance directed by Hitchcock.
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), Jane Eyre (1944), 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 
During the 1960s, Fontaine continued her stage appearances in several productions, among them 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 last film role was in the 1994 television film Good King Wenceslas. She currently resides at her estate, Villa Fontana, in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California where she spends her time in her gardens and with her dogs.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Fontaine has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1645 Vine Street.
Personal life 
Marriages and children 
In May 1946, she married actor/producer William Dozier in Mexico City. The couple had a daughter, Deborah Leslie, in 1948 and separated in 1949. The following year, Fontaine filed for divorced charging Dozier with desertion. Their divorce was finalized in January 1951.
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. Their divorce was finalized in January 1961. Fontaine's fourth and final marriage was to Sports Illustrated golf editor Alfred Wright, Jr. They married on 23 January 1964 in Elkton, Maryland, and divorced in 1969.
While in South America for a film festival in 1951, Fontaine adopted a 4-year-old Peruvian girl named Martita. Fontaine met Martita when she was 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. Fontaine promised Martita's parent 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 to visit her parents but Martita refused to go and opted to run away. Fontaine and Martita have been estranged since the incident occurred. 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." In 1996, The New York Post reported that Fontaine was also estranged from her birth daughter, Deborah.
Sibling rivalry 
Olivia de Havilland and her sister, Joan Fontaine, are the only siblings to have won lead acting Academy Awards.
Of the two sisters, 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 was forced to invent a name, taking first Joan Burfield, and later Joan Fontaine. Biographer Charles Higham records that the sisters have always had an uneasy relationship, starting in 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 resentment between the sisters allegedly stemmed from Fontaine's perception that de Havilland was their mother's favorite child.
Both de Havilland and Fontaine were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942. Fontaine won that year for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion over de Havilland's performance in Hold Back the Dawn. Charles 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. De Havilland's relationship with Fontaine continued to deteriorate after the two incidents. Charles Higham has stated that this was the near final straw for what became a lifelong feud, but the sisters did not completely stop speaking to each other until 1975. According to Fontaine, de Havilland did not invite her to a memorial service for their mother, who had recently died. De Havilland claims she informed Fontaine, but Fontaine brushed her off, claiming she was too busy to attend.
Charles Higham records that Fontaine has an estranged relationship with her own daughters as well, possibly because she discovered that they were secretly maintaining a relationship with de Havilland. Both sisters have refused to comment publicly about their feud and dysfunctional family relationships, though in an interview with John Kobal, Fontaine stated categorically that the so-called rivalry was a pure hoax, cooked up by the studio publicity hounds.
In a 1979 interview, Fontaine says the reason she stopped speaking with her sister was because Olivia wanted their mother (who was suffering from cancer) operated on at the age of 88. Joan also says that when their mother died, Olivia didn't even bother to phone to find out where she could be reached (Fontaine was on tour). Instead, Olivia sent a telegram, but it was delivered to Joan two weeks later at her next stop.
|1935||No More Ladies||Caroline 'Carrie' Rumsey||Credited as Joan Burfield|
|1937||A Million to One||Joan Stevens|
|1937||Quality Street||Charlotte Parratt||Uncredited|
|1937||The Man Who Found Himself||Nurse Doris King|
|1937||You Can't Beat Love||Trudy Olson|
|1937||Music for Madame||Jean Clemens|
|1937||A Damsel in Distress||Lady Alyce Marshmorton|
|1938||Maid's Night Out||Sheila Harrison|
|1938||Blond Cheat||Juliette 'Julie' Evans|
|1938||Sky Giant||Meg Lawrence|
|1938||The Duke of West Point||Ann Porter|
|1939||Man of Conquest||Eliza Allen|
|1939||The Women||Mrs. John Day (Peggy)|
|1940||Rebecca||Mrs. deWinter||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1941||Suspicion||Lina||Won - Academy Award for Best Actress
Won - New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
|1942||This Above All||Prudence Cathaway|
|1943||The Constant Nymph||Tessa Sanger||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1943||Jane Eyre||Jane Eyre|
|1944||Frenchman's Creek||Dona St. Columb|
|1945||The Affairs of Susan||Susan Darell|
|1946||From This Day Forward||Susan Cummings|
|1948||Letter from an Unknown Woman||Lisa Berndle|
|1948||The Emperor Waltz||Countess Johanna Augusta Franziska|
|1948||You Gotta Stay Happy||Dee Dee Dillwood|
|1948||Kiss the Blood Off My Hands||Jane Wharton|
|1950||September Affair||Marianne 'Manina' Stuart|
|1950||Born to Be Bad||Christabel Caine Carey|
|1951||Darling, How Could You!||Alice Grey|
|1952||Something to Live For||Jenny Carey|
|1953||Flight to Tangier||Susan Lane|
|1953||The Bigamist||Eve Graham|
|1954||Casanova's Big Night||Francesca Bruni||Alternative title: Mr. Casanova|
|1956||Beyond a Reasonable Doubt||Susan Spencer|
|1957||Island in the Sun||Mavis Norman|
|1957||Until They Sail||Anne Leslie|
|1958||A Certain Smile||Françoise Ferrand|
|1961||Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea||Dr. Susan Hiller|
|1962||Tender Is the Night||Baby Warren|
|1966||The Witches||Gwen Mayfield||Alternative title: The Devil's Own|
|1953-1954||Four Star Playhouse||Trudy||2 episodes|
|1956||The Ford Television Theatre||Julie||Episode: "Your Other Love"|
|1956||Star Stage||Episode: "The Shadowy Third"|
|1956||The 20th Century Fox Hour||Lynne Abbott||Episode: "Stranger In the Night"|
|1956-1957||The Joseph Cotten Show||Adrienne||2 episodes|
|1956-1930||General Electric Theater||Various roles||5 episodes|
|1959||Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse||Margaret Lewis||Episode: "Perilous"|
|1960||Startime||Julie Forbes||Episode: "Closed Set"|
|1960||Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond||Ellen Grayson||Episode: "The Visitor"|
|1961||The Light That Failed||Hostess||Television film|
|1961||Checkmate||Karen Lawson||Episode: "Voyage Into Fear"|
|1962||The Dick Powell Show||Valerie Baumer||Episode: "The Clocks"|
|1963||Wagon Train||Naomi Kaylor||Episode: "The Naomi Kaylor Story"|
|1963||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Alice Pemberton||Episode: "The Paragon"|
|1965||The Bing Crosby Show||Mrs. Taylor||Episode: "Operation Man Save"|
|1975||Cannon||Thelma Cain||Episode: "The Star"|
|1978||The Users||Grace St. George||Television film|
|1980||Ryan's Hope||Paige Williams||5 episodes
Nominated - Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest/Cameo Appearance in a Daytime Drama Series
|1981||Aloha Paradise||2 episodes|
|1981||The Love Boat||Jennifer Langley||Episode: "Chef's Special/Beginning Anew/Kleinschmidt"|
|1983||Bare Essence||Laura||2 episodes|
|1986||Hotel||Ruth Easton||Episode: "Harassed"|
|1986||Dark Mansions||Margaret Drake||Television film|
|1994||Good King Wenceslas||Queen Ludmilla||Television film|
Broadway credits 
|30 September 1953 – 18 June 1955||Tea and Sympathy||Laura Reynolds|
|26 December 1968 – 7 November 1970||Forty Carats||Yankel|
Awards and nominations 
|Year||Award||Category||Title of work||Result|
|1940||Academy Award||Best Actress||Rebecca||Nominated|
|1941||Academy Award||Best Actress||Suspicion||Won|
|1941||NYFCC Award||Best Actress||Suspicion||Won|
|1943||Academy Award||Best Actress||The Constant Nymph||Nominated|
|1947||Golden Apple Award||Most Cooperative Actress||Won|
|1980||Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Guest/Cameo Appearance in a Daytime Drama Series||Ryan's Hope||Nominated|
- Weatherford 2010, p. 302.
- Booker 2011, p. 134.
- Fontaine 1978, p. 19.
- "Prominent Alumni." asij.ac.jp. Retrieved: 6 October 2011.
- Quinlan 1996, pp. 172–173.
- Fristoe, Roger. "Articles: The Man Who Found Himself." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 11 October 2012.
- "Berlinale 1982: Juries." berlinale.de, 2 September 2010.
- Rush, George, Joanna Molloy and Barid Jones. "A Catalogue Of Complaints For Fontaine." New York Daily News, 23 June 1996. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Joan Fontaine To Seek Divorce." The Evening Independent, 28 March 1944. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Joan Fontaine Now a Citizen." The Milwaukee Journal, 23 April 1949, p. 1. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Joan Fontaine, A Guest No More, Wins Freedom." St. Petersburg Times, 3 June 1944, p. 5. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Joan Fontaine And Husband Separate." Daytona Beach Morning Journal, 4 August 1949, p. 14. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Joan Fontaine Sues Producer for Divorce." The Los Angeles Times, November 9, 1950, p. 2. Retrieved: December 8, 2012.
- "Husband Just Walked Out, Joan Fontaine Asserts." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 26 January 1951, p. 2. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Joan Fontaine Sues 3rd Mate For Divorce." Ocala Star-Banner, 6 November 1960, p. 3. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Joan Fontaine Gets Divorce." The New York Times, 4 January 1961. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Names In The News." Tri City Herald, 24 January 1964, p. 7. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- "Joan Fontaine Describes How She Adopted Inca Girl." The Milwaukee Sentinel, 11 July 1954, p. 9. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- Flander, Judy. "Former Movie Queen Joan Fontaine Turns Author At 60." Times-Union, 30 September 1978, p. 7. Retrieved: 8 December 2012.
- Higham, Charles. Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Haviland and Joan Fontaine. Coward McCann, May 1984, 257 pages.
- 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.
- Joan Fontaine at the Internet Movie Database
- Joan Fontaine at the TCM Movie Database
- Joan Fontaine at the Internet Broadway Database
- Joan Fontaine at TVGuide.com
- Photographs of Joan Fontaine
- Joan Fontaine at the CinéArtistes (French)
- Joan Fontaine's Official Facebook Page
- Joan Fontaine (archival records)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Joan Fontaine|