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Joan Fontaine Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (53) | Personal Quotes (18)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 22 October 1917Tokyo, Japan
Date of Death 15 December 2013Carmel, California, USA
Birth NameJoan de Beauvoir de Havilland
Height 5' 3½" (1.61 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland on October 22, 1917, in Tokyo, Japan, in what was known as the International Settlement. Her father was a British patent attorney with a lucrative practice in Japan, but due to Joan and older sister Olivia de Havilland's recurring ailments the family moved to California in the hopes of improving their health. Mrs. de Havilland and the two girls settled in Saratoga while their father went back to his practice in Japan. Joan's parents did not get along well and divorced soon afterward. Mrs. de Havilland had a desire to be an actress but her dreams were curtailed when she married, but now she hoped to pass on her dream to Olivia and Joan. While Olivia pursued a stage career, Joan went back to Tokyo, where she attended the American School. In 1934 she came back to California, where her sister was already making a name for herself on the stage. Joan likewise joined a theater group in San Jose and then Los Angeles to try her luck there. After moving to L.A., Joan adopted the name of Joan Burfield because she didn't want to infringe upon Olivia, who was using the family surname. She tested at MGM and gained a small role in No More Ladies (1935), but she was scarcely noticed and Joan was idle for a year and a half. During this time she roomed with Olivia, who was having much more success in films. In 1937, this time calling herself Joan Fontaine, she landed a better role as Trudy Olson in You Can't Beat Love (1937) and then an uncredited part in Quality Street (1937). Although the next two years saw her in better roles, she still yearned for something better. In 1940 she garnered her first Academy Award nomination for Rebecca (1940). Although she thought she should have won, (she lost out to Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle (1940)), she was now an established member of the Hollywood set. She would again be Oscar-nominated for her role as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth in Suspicion (1941), and this time she won. Joan was making one film a year but choosing her roles well. In 1942 she starred in the well-received This Above All (1942). The following year she appeared in The Constant Nymph (1943). Once again she was nominated for the Oscar, she lost out to Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette (1943). By now it was safe to say she was more famous than her older sister and more fine films followed. In 1948, she accepted second billing to Bing Crosby in The Emperor Waltz (1948). Joan took the year of 1949 off before coming back in 1950 with September Affair (1950) and Born to Be Bad (1950). In 1951 she starred in Paramount's Darling, How Could You! (1951), which turned out badly for both her and the studio and more weak productions followed. Absent from the big screen for a while, she took parts in television and dinner theaters. She also starred in many well-produced Broadway plays such as Forty Carats and The Lion in Winter. Her last appearance on the big screen was The Witches (1966) and her final appearance before the cameras was Good King Wenceslas (1994). She is, without a doubt, a lasting movie icon.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

Spouse (4)

Alfred Wright, Jr. (27 January 1964 - 1969) (divorced)
Collier Young (12 November 1952 - 3 January 1961) (divorced)
William Dozier (2 May 1946 - 25 January 1951) (divorced) (1 child)
Brian Aherne (20 August 1939 - 14 June 1945) (divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Often played delicate women put through emotional turmoil

Trivia (53)

Younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland
Daughter of film and stage actress Lilian Fontaine.
Joked that the musical comedy A Damsel in Distress (1937) set her career back four years. At the premiere, a woman sitting behind her loudly exclaimed, "Isn't she awful!" during Fontaine's onscreen attempt at dancing.
Attended Oak Street School in Saratoga, California.
Gave birth to her only child at age 31, a daughter Deborah Leslie Dozier (aka Debbie Dozier) on November 5, 1948. Child's father is her 2nd ex-husband, William Dozier.
She was a licensed pilot, champion balloonist, expert rider, prize-winning tuna fisherman, a hole-in-one golfer, Cordon Bleu chef and licensed interior decorator.
At the age of three she scored 160 on an infant IQ test.
Took her stage name from her step-father, George Fontaine.
The only actor or actress to win an acting Oscar in a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. She won Best Actress for Hitchcock's 1941 film Suspicion (1941).
Became pregnant twice in 1964, at the age of 46, but miscarried both times.
First husband Brian Aherne had a friend call her the night before their wedding to tell her he had cold feet and couldn't marry her. Joan told the friend to tell him it was too late to call it off, that he had better be at the altar the next morning to marry her, and he could divorce her afterwards if he wanted. He was there at the altar and they remained married six years, never mentioning this incident to each other.
Daughter, Martita, born 3 November 1946, adopted 1952. Ran away in 1963. When Joan found her she was refused contact with the child on the premise that her Peruvian adoption was not valid in the United States. Martita and Joan in later years, wrote and talked on phone to each other quite often. Martita also visited Joan at her home in Carmel.
She and Olivia de Havilland are the first sisters to win Oscars and the first ones to be Oscar-nominated in the same year.
Head of jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1982
When her sister, Olivia de Havilland, was 9 years old, she made a will in which she stated "I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister Joan, since she has none".
Ex-sister-in-law of Pierre Galante and Marcus Goodrich.
Her autobiography, "No Bed of Roses" was published in 1979. Ex-husband William Dozier thought a more appropriate title should have been "No Shred of Truth".
Relations between Fontaine and her sister Olivia de Havilland were never strong but worsened in 1941, when both were nominated for best actress Oscar. Their mutual dislike and jealousy escalated into an all-out feud after Fontaine won for Suspicion (1941). Despite the fact de Havilland went on to win two Academy Awards of her own, they have remained permanently estranged.
In Italy, almost all of her films were dubbed by Lidia Simoneschi. She was occasionally dubbed by Rosetta Calavetta and Renata Marini. She was dubbed once by Micaela Giustiniani in The Women (1939), once by Dina Perbellini and once by Paola Barbara in Suspicion (1941).
Vice-President Emeritus of the Episcopal Actors' Guild of America.
She and her sister Olivia De Havilland worked tirelessly as nurses' aides during WWII and made numerous appearances at the Hollywood Canteen in support of American troops.
She became an American citizen on April 23, 1943.
Alfred Hitchcock and George Cukor were her favorite directors.
According to an in-depth article on her by Rod Labbe in "Classic Images" magazine, Joan was offered the role of Karen Holmes, the adulterous army wife, in Columbia Pictures' From Here to Eternity (1953), based on James Jones' novel, after the studio had purchased the film rights. Joan was subsequently forced to decline the role because, at the time, she was embroiled in a particularly ugly custody battle over daughter Debbie Dozier with ex-husband William Dozier. Leaving California to film extensively in Hawaii would have jeopardized Joan's case. The part went to second choice Deborah Kerr, who earned an Oscar nomination. Joan later replaced Kerr on Broadway in the original production of "Tea and Sympathy".
Her personal favorite film of hers was The Constant Nymph (1943).
Allegedly was treated horribly by Laurence Olivier during their time together on the set of Rebecca (1940) as he had campaigned for his then-girlfriend Vivien Leigh to be given the part of Mrs. De Winter.
Lost her virginity to Conrad Nagel when she was 20.
Is one of three Japan-born actresses to have won an Academy Award. The others are her sister Olivia de Havilland and Miyoshi Umeki.
In a rare act of reconciliation, Joan and her sister Olivia de Havilland celebrated Christmas 1962 together with their then-husbands and children.
She was the last surviving cast member of George Cukor's The Women (1939) until she passed away in December 2013.
She used to correspond with her fans on a regular basis until her 90th birthday. The only time fans received mail from her personally was at Christmastime.
Was allergic to shellfish.
From 2003 until her death, she resided in Carmel, California, on her estate known as Villa Fontana.
Her paternal grandfather, the Reverend Charles Richard de Havilland, was from a family originally from Guernsey, in the Channel Islands. Her other ancestry included Anglo-Irish and English.
She died in her sleep of natural causes at the age of 96 in her home in Carmel, California.
Was a registered Democrat.
Survived by her daughter Debbie Dozier and two grandsons.
Was considered for the title role in Mildred Pierce (1945).
Was the 18th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Actress Oscar for Suspicion (1941) at The 14th Academy Awards on February 26, 1942.
At the time of her death there had been no reconciliation between she and sister Olivia de Havilland.
In 1979, the year after Joan's frank autobiography was published, the sisters both attended the Academy's 50th anniversary celebration of the Oscars and Oscar winners, but were seated on opposite ends of the stage for the "class photo", apparently at their request, and did not speak with each other at any time.
In 1946, a huge crack in the sisters' already tense relationship occurred when Joan made an unkind remark about Olivia's new husband, author Marcus Goodrich. Olivia insisted on an apology or she would not talk to her anymore. Joan refused to do so. A year later when Olivia won her first Oscar, Joan, who was at the awards show as a presenter, went up to congratulate her sister but was completely snubbed.
She claimed that she was the first choice for the role of Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939), but that director George Cukor felt she was too stylish to play the role. She then suggested sister Olivia de Havilland to him and Olivia went on to play the part. Olivia's version of how she got the part makes no mention of this or Joan.
When she decided on a movie career, her mother told her that Warner Bros.--which had sister Olivia de Havilland under contract--was "Olivia's studio" and that Joan was not to pursue work there. She realized that she couldn't use the de Havilland name and instead took her stepfather's last name, Fontaine. Joan eventually got an agent and signed with RKO.
The long-standing feud between she and sister Olivia de Havilland was seldom discussed by Olivia. Joan, on the other hand, was quite candid and felt the complete victim of Olivia's abuse and blamed her sister for the long estrangement. Her side of the story is that the feud started practically from Joan's birth--and that the root of their problem was Olivia's acute unhappiness at having to share the attention of her parents with a younger sibling. The fighting continued into their hair-pulling, clothes-tearing teen years as well.
The Rose Society named a rose after her, The Joan Fontaine Rose.
After a self-imposed retirement, Joan returned and played Good Queen Ludmella in the TV movie Good King Wenceslas (1994) because the base of her house in Carmel, California, was damaged by an earthquake and Joan decided it was better use the money she got for the movie to fix the house rather than take $200,000 out of her bank account.
All of Joan's memorabilia was to be donated to Boston University following her death.
A close friend of Ida Lupino, Joan inherited her collie dog after Lupino died.
Similar in theory to Bette Davis when she won her Oscar for Dangerous (1935) after losing for Of Human Bondage (1934), many felt Joan's Best Actress Oscar win for Suspicion (1941) was in sympathy for losing out for her brilliance in the classic film Rebecca (1940).
She and Katharine Hepburn both appeared in productions of "The Lion in Winter" (Hepburn in the 1968 film version [The Lion in Winter (1968)]), Fontaine in a 1979 Austrian stage production), and both passed away at the age of 96. Fontaine had appeared onscreen with Hepburn in Quality Street (1937).
Suffered from anemia and measles as a child.

Personal Quotes (18)

Marriage, as an institution, is as dead as the dodo bird.
If you keep marrying as I do, you learn everybody's hobby.
I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia [sister Olivia de Havilland] did, and if I die first, she'll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!
[Before the failure of her first marriage] Too many Hollywood marriages have smashed up because husbands were Mr. Joan Fontaine. That will never happen in our marriage because I am 100% Mrs. Brian Aherne.
[on working with Orson Welles on Jane Eyre (1943)] You can not battle an elephant. Orson was such a big man in every way that no one could stand up to him. On the first day at 4 o'clock, he strode in followed by his agent, a dwarf, his valet and a whole entourage. Approaching us, he proclaimed, "All right, everybody turn to page eight." And we did it, though he was not the director.
[on Charles Boyer] Charles Boyer remains my favorite leading man. I found him a man of intellect, taste and discernment. He was unselfish, dedicated to his work. Above all, he cared about the quality of the film he was making, and unlike most leading men I have worked with, the single exception being Fred Astaire, his first concern was the film, not himself.
[on Olivia de Havilland] We're getting closer together as we get older, but there would be a slight problem of temperament. In fact, it would be bigger than Hiroshima.
[on working with director George Cukor on The Women (1939)] I learned about acting from George than anyone else and through just one sentence. He said, "Think and feel and the rest will take care of itself."
I hope I'll die on stage at the age at 105, playing Peter Pan.
[on Olivia de Havilland] My sister is a very peculiar lady. When we were young, I wasn't allowed to talk to her friends. Now, I'm not allowed to talk to her children, nor are they permitted to see me. This is the nature of the lady. Doesn't bother me at all.
You know, I've had a helluva life. Not just the acting part. I've flown in an international balloon race. I've piloted my own plane. I've ridden to the hounds. I've done a lot of exciting things.
I made about seven tests for 'Rebecca'. Everybody tested for it. Loretta Young, Margaret Sullavan, Vivien Leigh, Susan Hayward, Anne Baxter, you name her. Supposedly, Hitchcock saw one of my tests and said, 'This is the only one'. I think the word he used to describe what set me apart was 'vulnerability'. Also, I was not very well-known and producer David O. Selznick saw the chance for star-budding. And may I say he also saw the chance to put me under contract for serf's wages.
[on beating sister Olivia De Havilland for the Oscar] I froze. I stared across the table, where Olivia was sitting. 'Get up there!' she whispered commandingly. Now what had I done? All the animus we'd felt towards each other as children, the savage wrestling matches, the time Olivia fractured my collarbone, all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery.
[observation, 1978, about her sister] Olivia has always said I was first at everything. If I die, she'll be furious because, again, I'll have got there first.
[on marriage (1978)] The main problem in marriage is that, for a man, sex is a hunger-like eating. If a man is hungry and can't get to a fancy French restaurant, he'll go to a hot dog stand. For a woman, what's important is love and romance.
When I came to Hollywood I did not know Ida [Lupino], and she was married to Collier Young, his nick name was "Collie". A few years after they were married, they got a divorce, but remained friends. I had been in pictures for a few films and Ida wanted me to be in a film with her called The Bigamist (1953). It turned out that Collie was going to co-produce the film with Ida. I got a chance to meet Collie, I fell in love with him, and I married him. So, as it turned out, when Ida was very ill and in the hospital I visited her. She knew that I loved animals and asked if when the time comes, would I take Holden [Lupino's dog] to come and live with me. So this is how I came to be Holden's owner. So it turns out that I got two collies from Ida Lupino, and they both turned out to be dogs!
I'm a very affectionate person, and no man was ever able to satisfy that need for affection as well as my dogs do.
I make pictures because I like to be able to get a good table when I go to a nightclub and because I like to travel.

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