Best Known For
Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine appeared in such films as Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Jane Eyre (1944) and Othello (1952).
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Born in 1917 in Tokyo, Japan, actress Joan Fontaine made her film debut in 1935. She became a top film star in the 1940s, appearing in Rebecca and Suspicion, both directed by Alfred Hitchcock. She co-starred with Orson Welles in Jane Eyre (1944) and Othello (1952). Fontaine published her autobiography in 1978. She had a longstanding feud with her sister,
"I think it's virtually impossible for the right kind of man to be married to a movie star. Something happens when he steps off a train and someone says, 'Step right this way, Mr. Fontaine.' That hurts. Any man with self-respect can't take it, and I wouldn't want to marry the other kind."
actress Olivia de Havilland, from the early '40s until her death, on December 16, 2013, in Carmel, California.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, on October 22, 1917, actress Joan Fontaine was a sickly child. Her mother, Lillian, moved the family to California when she was young to help improve her health. Her parents split up around this time. Fontaine and her older sister, Olivia (de Havilland), seemed to have a difficult relationship from the start, with the pair fighting for their mother's attention and affection. According to some reports, Lillian favored Olivia.
In 1932, Fontaine moved to Japan to live with her father. Their reunion proved to be short-lived, however, and she returned the United States after about a year. Before long, Fontaine began her acting career, following in the footsteps of her older sister. She reportedly studied with Max Reinhardt, just as her sister had done before her.
Using the name Joan Burfield, Joan Fontaine made her film debut in 1935's No More Ladies, starring Joan Crawford. She eventually took the last name "Fontaine" after her stepfather. Continuing to work in movies, Fontaine appeared alongside Fred Astaire in the musical A Damsel in Distress in 1937. She was better suited to dramatic roles, however, made apparent by her performances in films like Gunga Din (1939), with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Cary Grant, and The Women (1939), with Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. She reportedly also missed another great role that year, turning down the part of Melanie in Gone with the Wind—a role eventually won by her sister, Olivia de Havilland, and for which Olivia earned great acclaim. This marked the first of many events in a longstanding feud between the two acting sisters.
Fontaine's career reached new heights in 1940 with her starring role in Rebecca, Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of the popular Daphne du Maurier novel. She played the title character, starring opposite Laurence Olivier. The following year, Fontaine reteamed with Hitchcock for the thriller Suspicion, co-starring with Cary Grant. She received Academy Award nominations for her performances in Rebecca and Suspicion, taking home the golden statue for best actress for the latter. This win became the latest flare-up in the feud between Fontaine and de Havilland, who had been nominated as well, for her role in Hold Back the Dawn.
In 1943, Fontaine picked up her third and final Oscar nomination (best actress) for her performance in The Constant Nymph. She went on to co-star with Orson Welles in 1944's classic romantic tale Jane Eyre.
profile name: Joan Fontaine profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous Libras 571 people in this group
Famous Actresses 684 people in this group
Without a doubt, the roles that women have taken on throughout the history of film has evolved dramatically. Film actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood fought tooth and nail to attain the same respect as their male counterparts. And slowly, over time, we've seen women take on powerful and complex lead roles in blockbusters, comedies, dramas and everything in between, thanks to the work of leading ladies like Hattie McDaniel, Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner. Browse through the women who have changed film history.
Famous Film Actresses 431 people in this group