The Associated Press writes that "Fontaine, the sister of fellow Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland, died in … Just as seemingly every actress had tried out for Scarlett O'Hara, hundreds applied for the lead female role in "Rebecca," based on Daphne du Maurier's gothic best-seller about haunted Maxim de Winter and the dead first wife — the title character — he obsesses over. Her final screen role was as a supportive royal grandmother in “Good King Wenceslas” (1994) on the Family Channel. I've piloted my own plane. ". But that just wasn't my cup of tea," she said. Fontaine had minor roles in several films in the 1930s, but received little attention and was without a studio contract when she was seated next to producer David O. Selznick at a dinner party near the decade's end. Ms. Fontaine is survived by her sister, Ms. de Havilland; a daughter, Deborah Dozier Potter of Santa Fe, N.M.; and a grandson. 'You know, I've had a helluva life,' Fontaine once said. Besides her Oscar-winning sister, her mother, Lillian Fontaine, appeared in more than a dozen films. She married William Dozier, a film producer, in 1946, and they had a daughter. That film’s mere suggestion of an interracial romance, between Ms. Fontaine’s character and Harry Belafonte’s, was considered daring. De Havillland, now 97, survives her sister. Her death was confirmed by her assistant, Susan Pfeiffer. "There was always something wrong with me," Fontaine recalled. ", As the Los Angeles Times adds, Fontaine "became almost as well-known for her lifelong feud with her famous older sister." The director would later say he was most impressed by Fontaine's restraint. I've done a lot of exciting things.". Ms. Fontaine, center, in “Rebecca,” with George Sanders and Judith Anderson, Ms. Fontaine in the film "Frenchman's Creek. She was a minor player in “Gunga Din,” with Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., but made an impression in the all-female ensemble cast of “The Women.” Those roles were followed by her career-making performance in “Rebecca,” which Frank S. Nugent praised in The New York Times as the film’s “real surprise” and “greatest delight.”. In the '70s and '80s she appeared on the television series such as "The Love Boat," "Cannon," and in "Ryan's Hope.". I was kept away from other children, never allowed to do the things they did.". I've flown in an international balloon race. Fontaine.' Dan Grossi/AP I've piloted my own plane. She remembered being treated cruelly by Olivier, who openly preferred his then-lover Vivien Leigh for the role, and being ignored by the largely British cast. Fontaine had been fading in recent days and died "peacefully," Beutel said. Fontaine's first husband was actor Brian Aherne; the second, film executive William Dozier; the third, film producer Collin Hudson Young. Watch TODAY All Day! Fontaine's last husband was Sports Illustrated golf editor Alfred Wright Jr. Dozier and Fontaine had a daughter, Deborah Leslie, whose godmother was actress Maureen O'Sullivan. She impressed him enough to be asked to audition for "Rebecca," his first movie since "Gone With the Wind" and the American directorial debut of Hitchcock. In 1939, she appeared in two critically acclaimed pictures. She was 96. Fontaine, the sister of fellow Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland, died in her sleep in her Carmel, Calif., home Sunday morning, said longtime friend Noel Beutel. ", Competition for the prize hardened feelings that had apparent roots in childhood ("Livvie" was a bully, Joan an attention hog) and endured into old age, with Fontaine writing bitterly about her sister in the memoir "No Bed of Roses" and telling one reporter that she could not recall "one act of kindness from Olivia all through my childhood." News of Fontaine's death came the same day we heard that actor Peter O'Toole (Lawrence of Arabia) passed away on Saturday. Joan Fontaine had a longime rivalry with fellow Oscar-winning actress, her sister, Olivia De Havilland. In the 1940s and ’50s, Ms. Fontaine — only slightly typecast as shy, aristocratic or both — had a thriving movie career, starring opposite the era’s male superstars, including Burt Lancaster, Tyrone Power and James Stewart. Show business had come naturally. "Goodness knows, I tried," she said after her second marriage failed. Actress Joan Fontaine in 1944. After their divorce in 1951, she was married to Collier Young, a film and television writer-producer, from 1952 to 1961, and Alfred Wright Jr., a Sports Illustrated editor, from 1964 to 1969. Hitchcock's "Suspicion," released in 1941, and featuring Fontaine as the timid woman whose husband (Cary Grant) may or may not be a killer, brought her a best actress Oscar and dramatized one of Hollywood's legendary feuds, between Fontaine and de Havilland, a losing nominee for "Hold Back the Dawn. While they initially downplayed any problems, tension was evident in 1947 when de Havilland came offstage after winning her first Oscar, for "To Each His Own." She joked once about being burglarized in the Big Apple. While Fontaine topped her sister in 1941, and picked up a third nomination for the 1943 film "The Constant Nymph," de Havilland went on to win two Oscars and was nominated three other times. Fontaine was born Joan de Havilland in 1917 in Tokyo, where her British parents lived. De Havilland won the first of her two Oscars for her performance in the 1946 film To Each His Own. She also appeared twice on Broadway, replacing Deborah Kerr in the hit 1953 drama "Tea and Sympathy" and Julie Harris in the long-running 1968 comedy "Forty Carats." Her first husband was Brian Aherne, the British-born stage and film actor, whom she married in 1939 and divorced in 1945. Fontaine changed her last name, taking that of her mother's second husband. Her most daring role came in the 1957 film "Island in the Sun," in which she had an interracial romance with Harry Belafonte. I've flown in an international balloon race. A few other Fontaine films: "Bed of Roses," "A Damsel In Distress," "Blonde Cheat," "Ivanhoe," "You've Gotta Stay Happy" and "You Can't Beat Love." She made her Broadway debut in 1954, replacing Deborah Kerr as a headmaster’s sensitive wife who helps a young man affirm his sexuality in “Tea and Sympathy.” Brooks Atkinson, writing in The New York Times, preferred Ms. Kerr but called Ms. Fontaine’s performance “forceful and thoughtful” and her New York appearance “one of the better lend-lease deals with Hollywood.”. The sisters were estranged for most of their adult lives, a situation Ms. Fontaine once attributed to her having married and won an Oscar before Ms. de Havilland did. In 1937 and 1938, she made 10 mostly forgettable pictures, alternating between screwball comedies like “Maid’s Night Out,” in which she starred as a socialite mistaken for a servant, and dramas like “The Man Who Found Himself,” in which she played a noble nurse determined to save a hobo’s life. With Laurence Olivier as Maxim, Fontaine as the unsuspecting second wife and Judith Anderson as the dastardly housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, "Rebecca" won the Academy Award for best picture and got Fontaine the first of her three Oscar nominations. Any man with self-respect can't take it, and I wouldn't want to marry the other kind. Until the Hitchcock films, Ms. Fontaine’s movie career had not looked promising. She starred on Broadway in 1954 in "Tea and Sympathy" and in 1980 received an Emmy nomination for her cameo on the daytime soap "Ryan's Hope. Despite divorce, Fontaine remained philosophical about love and marriage. Several Southern cities banned the movie after threats from the Ku Klux Klan. She appeared in television movies, including “The Users” (1978) and “Crossings” (1986), based on a Danielle Steel novel. She would credit George Cukor, who directed her in The Women, for urging her to "think and feel and the rest will take care of itself.". She would credit George Cukor, who directed her in "The Women," for urging her to "think and feel and the rest will take care of itself. Both she and her sister, born in 1916, were sickly, and their mother hoped a change of climate would improve their health when she moved the family to California in 1919 after the breakup of her marriage. In 1978, she played a socialite in the made-for-TV movie based on Joyce Haber's steamy novel, "The Users." I never could quite figure it out. Explained de Havilland's publicist: "This goes back for years and years, ever since they were children.". Fontaine said she left Hollywood because she was asked to play Elvis Presley's mother. The de Havillands divorced, and Lillian married George M. Fontaine, a department store executive, whose surname Joan later took as her stage name. Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland was born to British parents on Oct. 22, 1917, in Tokyo, where her father, Walter, a cousin of the aviation pioneer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, was working as a patent lawyer. She returned to Broadway once, in the late 1960s, replacing Julie Harris in the comedy “Forty Carats,” about a middle-aged woman’s romance with a younger man. She was also in films directed by Wilder (The Emperor Waltz), Lang (Beyond a Reasonable Doubt) and, wised up and dangerous, in Ray's Born to be Bad. Ms. Fontaine, who also briefly used the name Joan Burfield (inspired by a Los Angeles street sign), moved back to Japan at 15 to live with her father and to attend the American School there. Joan Fontaine died Sunday at the age of 96. The New York Times notes that "the sisters were estranged for most of their adult lives, a situation Ms. Fontaine once attributed to her having married and won an Oscar before Ms. de Havilland did.". Joan Fontaine, the patrician blond actress who rose to stardom as a haunted second wife in the Alfred Hitchcock film “Rebecca” in 1940 and won an Academy Award for her portrayal of a terrified newlywed in Hitchcock’s “Suspicion,” died at her home in Carmel, Calif., on Sunday. Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, who found stardom playing naive wives in Alfred Hitchcock's "Suspicion" and "Rebecca" and also was featured in films by Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang and Nicholas Ray, died Sunday. The director would later say he was most impressed by Fontaine's restraint. Fontaine's pale, soft features and frightened stare made her ideal for melodrama and she was a major star for much of the 1940s. Fontaine came forward to congratulate her and was rebuffed. Fontaine won her single Oscar, for best actress, in 1942 at the age of 24. While Ms. de Havilland was starring opposite Errol Flynn in hits like “Captain Blood” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and captured the coveted role of Melanie Hamilton in “Gone With the Wind,” Ms. Fontaine struggled. In 1952, she took in a 5-year-old Peruvian girl, Martita Pareja Calderon. ", "You know, I've had a helluva life," Fontaine once said.
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