Legendary Actress Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

Joan FontaineWho was Joan Fontaine?

Joan Fontaine was a three-times nominated and two times  winner of oscar polish blonde actress who achieved stardom in the 1940s as a haunted second wife in the Alfred Hitchcok’s 1940 fim “Rebecca”. She was the only actress to receive an oscar award in Alfred Hitchcok’s directional 1941 film “Suspicion”. She was also the youngest best-actress to receive an oscar award in 1942 at the age of 24. Her elder sister  Olivia de Havilland was also two times oscar winning actress. She was also equally notable bacause of her rivalry with her elder sister.

She was mostly associated with Eleanor of Aquitaine in “The Lion in Winter”. It was also her all time-favourite role.Besides acting she was also a licensed pilot, an interior decorator and Cordon Bleu -chef. She holds dual citizenhip-British by birth and became in American citizen in 1943

Childhood-Birthday and Education of Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine was born on october 22, 1917 in Tokyo, Japan as Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland to William de Havilland and Lilian Fontaine. Her father was a cousin of Sir Geoffrey, an aviation Pioneer. Her father teached English at the Imperial University as a professor before working as a patent lawyer. He had a thriving practice in Japan.

Her mother was a stage actress who had educated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic arts, London.Her mother married George Fontaine after divorced. She had an elder sister Dame Olivia de Havilland, who was also an Oscar winning actress.

Her parents divorce in 19 19 and finalized in 1925. In her memoirs she said, due to ill- health and isolation of both her and Olivia, her mother used to feed goat’s milk. It help to her endless succession of ailments.

In 1919,after her parents divorced, when she was only two and half years old left Tokyo along with her mother and sister for Sarota, California to improve their health beacuase the climatic condition would be more suitable according to Doctor advice. There both sisters joined the Local theatre group to pursue acting.

When Joan was 16 years old she returned to Japan and attended Los Gatos, High school, American school. She graduated in 1935 from the Tokyo School of Foreign children but her sister remaind in Los Angeles learning acting in the theatre.

Physical Appearance:Height-Weight & Zodiac sign of Joan Fontaine

Height 5 feet 3.5 cm
Weight 50 kg
Hair colour Brown
Eye colour Hazel
Body measurements 31-25-34 inches
Bra size 30A
Shoe size 7US/37.5EU
Zodiac sign Libra
Religion   Christianity converted in 1972

Height of Joan Fontaine

Height of Joan Fontaine was 5 feet and 3.5 cm

Photos of Joan Fontaine

Acting career of Joan Fontaine

Joan was was not a promising star until she was caused in Alfred Hitchcock’s films . Joan stage debut was “Call it a Day”in 1935, a West coast production. And her film debut was “No More Ladies” in 1835 under MGM. She signed a contract with RKO pictures and made a debut in “Quality Street” in 1937.

In 1937 and 1938 she was casted in many pictures but they wear not box office success. IShe had small roles in 1939 film “Ganga Din” alongside Carry Grant. and “The Woman”

In 1940 came Alfred Hitcock’s film “Rebecca” paired opposite Laurence Oliver. This film made her a rising star of the golden of Hollywood and helped her reached stardom. It was also the Hitchcock’s debut in American film as a direcot. She was nominated an Oscar award for this film for her role as the second wife of Laurence Olivier but lost to  Ginger Rogers for “Kitty Foyle”.

A year later in 1941 came another Hitchcock’s film, “Suspicion” , a psychologica romantic thriller film. She was placed the role of as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth, wife of Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) who suspects her husband was trying to kill her. She was nominated for the second time an oscar award for best actress for this film. She brought the award, thereby becoming the youngest best- actress to won at that time, beating her own sister Olivia which was nominated for “Hold Back the Dawn”

After Hitcock’s film her career reached stardom overnight and became one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood though she was typecast in female melodrama.

In 1942 came ” This Above All” with Tyrone Power, 1943- alongside Charles Boyer in “The Constant Nymph” for which she won her third Academy award for best actress. “Jane Eyre” which came in 1945 paired opposite Orson Welles. It  was adapted from a novel of the same of an English novelist Charlotte Bronte.

“The Affairs of Susan” which came in 1945 was her first comedy film. She also owned a production House , Rampant production”. Her first film under Rampant production was “Ivy” in 1947. Other film under this production are “Letter from an Unknown woman”,  alongside Bingcrossby in Billy Wilder’s ” The Emperor Waltz” and the ” Kiss the Blood off my hands” in 1948.

She was also paired with James Stewart in 1948 comedy  film ” You gotta Stay Happy”. Under Paramount picture ” Born to Bed”and under RKO banner came “September  Affair” in 1950. In 1950s she turned more attention to the stage. Her Broadway debut was “Tea and Sympathy” in 1954. She also served as a TV penalist on the game show “To Tell the Truth” from 1962 to 1965. 

  • Final big screen role- “Tender Is the Night” in 1962
  • Broadway play ” Forty Carats” from 1968-1970.
  •   Jury preident for Berlin International Film Festival in 1982
  • Last credited performance-“Good King Winceslas” in 1994
  • Last feature film- “The Witches” in 1996

Changing name to Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine change her name after her acting career started. She took the name of Fontaine from her step-father to avoid confusion with her sister. Before her acting debut she used the name Joan Burfield taken from a Los Angeles street sign.

Rivalry of Joan Fontaine with her sister Olivia

According to Fontaine’s autobiography “No Bed of Roses” 1978, the two sister never got along since childhood. Rivalry of Joan Fontaine with her elder sister Olivia de Havilland actually started when Fontaine won her first Academy award for the film “Suspicion”, beating her own sister. When she stepped forward to receive her award Olivia tried to congratulate her, but she turned away. Olivia got humilated and finally stop talking to each other in the mid 1970s.

Hollywood Reports states that she attributed to her sister having won an oscar and married before Olivia did.

Spouses of Joan Fontaine

How many times Joan Fontaine married?

Joan Fontaine married four times and all ended in divorce.

  • First husband of Joan Fontaine-Brian AherneFirst husband of Joan Fontaine-Brian Aherne

Fontaine married in 1939 with Brian Aherne, an English actor of stage, screen, radio and TV. It was first marriage of both actor. The couple had no children. They divorced in 1945.

  • Second husband of Joan Fontaine-William DozierSecond husband of Joan Fontaine-William Dozier

Fontaine married for the second with William Dozier, Batman TV show producer, in 1946 in Mexico city. They had a daughter, Deboral Leslie  born in 1948. She is the biological child of Fontaine. They got seperated in 1948 and divorced in 1951. The couple had a long court battle through 1950s over their custody of their child.

  • Third husband of Joan Fontaine-Collier Young

Third husband of Joan Fontaine-Collier YoungCollier Young was an American film producer and writer. They married on November 12, 1952 and divorced in 1961. The couple had no cildren.

  • Fourth husband of Joan Fontaine-Alfred Wright

    Fourth husband of Joan Fontaine-Alfred Wright

    Alfred Wright was a senior editor of Sports Illustrated, an American sports Magazine. They dated for one year and married on January 23,1964 and divorced in 1969.

How many children had Joan Fontaine?

She had two children. One biological daughter-Deborah Leslie from thesecond marriage and an adopted daughter Martita.  She adopted Martita, a Peruvian girl while she was in South America in 1951 for a film festival.

Awards and Honours received by Joan Fontaine

  • Nominated Oscar Award for “Rebecca” in 1941
  • Won Oscar Award for “Suspicion” in 1942
  • Won oscar Award for ” Constant Nymph” in 1944
  • Nominated Emmy Award for her guest appearance in the Soap Opera Ryan’s Hope

Net Worth of Joan Fontaine

Fontaine was a very successful actress at her time. She had acted in many box-office hit films which made her earn a whooping amount. At the time of her death according to various online sources, she had a networth of about $40 to $45 million including all her assets at the time of her death.

Death of Joan Fontaine

Joan Fontaine died peacefully in her sleep from natural death on December 15, 2013 at the age of 96.



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