Joan Fontaine Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (63)  | Personal Quotes (35)

Overview (4)

Born in Tokyo, Japan
Died in Carmel, California, USA  (natural causes)
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

Family (4)

Spouse Alfred Wright, Jr. (27 January 1964 - June 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)
Children Martita Pareja
Debbie Dozier
Parents Walter Augustus de Havilland
Lilian Fontaine
Relatives Gisèle Galante (niece or nephew)
Benjamin Goodrich (niece or nephew)
Olivia de Havilland (sibling)

Trade Mark (3)

Often played delicate women put through emotional turmoil
Natural blond hair
Striking, innocent beauty

Trivia (63)

Younger sister of Olivia de Havilland.
Daughter of 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, CA.
Gave birth to her only child at age 31, daughter Deborah Leslie Dozier (aka Debbie Dozier) on November 5, 1948. Child's father is her second 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 US. Martita and Joan in later years wrote and talked on the phone to each other quite often. Martita also visited Joan at her home in Carmel, CA.
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 sister Olivia de Havilland was nine 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 she and sister Olivia de Havilland were never strong, but worsened in 1941 when both were nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. Their mutual dislike and jealousy escalated into an all-out feud after Fontaine won for Suspicion (1941). Despite the fact that 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 Lydia 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 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, she and 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 of natural causes at 96 years of age, she resided in Carmel, CA, on her estate known as Villa Fontana.
Her paternal grandfather, Rev. 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, she and sister Olivia de Havilland 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 already tense relationship between she and sister Olivia de Havilland 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, CA, was damaged by an earthquake and Joan decided it was better to use the money she got for the movie to fix the house rather than take $200,000 out of her bank account.
All of her 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 appeared in productions of 'The Lion in Winter', Hepburn in the 1968 film version, Fontaine in a 1979 Viennese stage production. Both women made their last acting appearances in 1994 and both passed away at the age of 96. Fontaine actually had a small role in Hepburn's Quality Street (1937).
Suffered from anemia and measles as a child.
In her autobiography, "No Bed of Roses", she wrote that when seeing a fortune teller in 1935 she was undecided about which last name to choose for acting. The woman told her to "go with Fontaine", that it was "a winner.".
In her autobiography, "No Bed of Roses", she wrote that she never felt so alone as in 1939 when she celebrated her 22nd birthday on the set of Rebecca (1940) by herself.
Bottle-fed her daughter Debbie Dozier as a baby.
Starred in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941) and Ivanhoe (1952). Rebecca is the only winner.
Was five months pregnant with her daughter Debbie Dozier when she completed filming You Gotta Stay Happy (1948).
Returned to work seven months after giving birth to her daughter Debbie Dozier to begin filming Born to Be Bad (1950).
She has appeared in four films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Gunga Din (1939), The Women (1939), Rebecca (1940) and Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948).
Having made a number of films without making any real impression she was on the point of giving up when she was sitting next to David Selznick at a party and mentioned that she'd just finished reading the book Rebecca to which he said that he'd just bought the rights and would she like to do a film test which led to her getting the part and a successful film career,.
She and her sister, Olivia, were brought up very strictly by their mother, who they lived with and who they had to ask for permission to go out in the evening and report back when they returned. Any young men that wanted to date them were first invited to tea and vetted by their mother.
Cecil B. DeMille considered her for the roles of Loxi Claiborne in Reap the Wild Wind (1942) and Delilah in Samson and Delilah (1949). The roles went to Paulette Goddard and Hedy Lamarr, respectively.

Personal Quotes (35)

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 cannot 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 [more] 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 (1940). Everybody tested for it. Loretta Young, Margaret Sullavan, Vivien Leigh, Susan Hayward, Anne Baxter, you name her. Supposedly, [Alfred 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.
[in 1978, about sister Olivia de Havilland] Olivia has always said I was first at everything. If I die, she'll be furious because, again, I'll have got there first.
[in 1978, on marriage] 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 nickname 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.
I have had eight names, counting my four married surnames. Professionally de Havilland was Olivia's; she was the first-born and I was not to disgrace her name. I took my first theatrical name, Joan Burfield, from Burfield Street in Hollywood. Then I became Joan St. John. One evening at the Trocadero nightclub, at the urging of a fortune teller, I picked Fontaine, my stepfather's name. "Take that," she advised, "Joan Fontaine is a success name." She was right.
[when asked, "Which of your films are you proudest of?"] Rebecca (1940) is a fantastic story, marvelously directed and produced. I like The Constant Nymph (1943) very much, and although Suspicion (1941) isn't a classic like Rebecca, it's damn good.
[when asked if her mother ever saw her films] She claimed not, but I found out recently that she actually did see our pictures. She told a friend of hers that in Jane Eyre "Joan was defeated by her beauty." How's that for a remark? Mother never could express pride in either of her daughters.
He asked me to marry him three times, but it was Olivia who loved Howard Hughes. One day she invited me to a surprise party at the Trocadero where Hughes was the host. On the dance floor, he leaned down and proposed. I was furious - no one two-timed my sister, no matter what our quarrels might be. But when I tried to warn Olivia, sparks flew. I showed her his telephone number in his own handwriting that he had given me, but she was furious at me. No, I was never in love with Howard. He had no humor, no sense of joy, no vivacity. Everything had to be a "deal."
By the way, we may not get along personally, but I am absolutely thrilled that my sister has accomplished what she has. Imagine what we could have done if we had gotten together. We could have selected the right scripts, the right directors, the right producers - we could have built our own empire. But it was not to be.
[1978] I just haven't time [to remarry]. On two separate occasions recently men offered me $1 million if I would marry them. So I said, "Suppose I already have $1 million? Now what will you give me?" They couldn't offer anything, not love, not a life together, not adventure - just the dough. I don't need that. I'm very good with money.
[1978] This is the best period of my life. There are lots of offers, but going back to a sound stage in Hollywood doesn't appeal anymore. After some 50 films, I want to do things I haven't done, like appear on the London stage and write a novel. Life's too short.
[on her romance with Adlai Stevenson] We had a tenderness for each other that grew into something rather serious. There was so much speculation about our marrying in the press that over lunch at his apartment in the Waldorf Towers he told me he could not marry an actress. He still had political ambitions and the "little old ladies from Oshkosh" wouldn't approve. I told him it was just as well. My family would hardly approve of my marrying a politician.
[on two of the men she loved] John Houseman and I were going to be married, but at the last minute I discovered his mother wanted to move in with us. Aly Khan was a marvelous fairy-tale prince and he knew it. He was a butterfly covering as many flowers as he could.
[1982] You know it's amazing to win an Oscar when you really don't know what you're doing. You really don't know your art for many, many years. And the sad part about my profession is that to play any juicy part you have to be very young. They don't write - as Glenda Jackson said the other day - they just don't write plays for people over 40, much. That's why "Golden Pond" is so marvelous. In fact, I'm much too young. She's supposed to be 79 in the play. I had a great compliment today. One person asked me, "Are you playing the daughter?" I nearly kissed her!
There is much in my life that might make me the envy of many ... fame, fortune, romance, self-expression, independence. Yet I have found no lasting romance, no marriage that I could salvage without jeopardizing my own happiness or freedom, my own brand of integrity. My career is the result of opportunity and luck as much as anything.
[1985] I have no family ties anymore, so I want to work. I was trying to keep busy. I had a big house to furnish and a wonderful garden to create. I do needlepoint to the ceiling. I still host an interview show for cable in New York. I lecture all over the country. But it wasn't enough. My theory is that if you stay busy, you haven't time to grow old. Or at least you don't notice it.
[1985] I rarely watch television. When you live in New York, as I did for 25 years, you don't have time. I was out every night at premieres or operas, or if I was at home, I was entertaining. TV is for married couples and their children who have nothing left to say to each other. Conversation has become a lost art.
[1985] At my time in life, I don't want to do bit parts. Also, Rosalind Russell once said, "Always escape the mother parts." And I've avoided them.
[on dressing rooms] In the old days they were so lavish that you would bring the paintings from your home to hang on your dressing room walls.
[1985] I loved my New York apartment. I had a whole floor with a wonderful library. The only problem with the apartment was that it looked out on a wall of concrete on 72d Street instead of onto the ocean. A year ago when I was in Carmel I walked into a house with an identical library to the one I had, except that it overlooked the Pacific. So I sold my apartment for 20 times what I had paid for it, and I moved to California.
[on the Academy Awards, 1990] The Academy has now become, in my opinion, a spectacle for television; it's become a "show". It was originally to honour the profession... Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Conrad Nagel, a couple of other people, got together after all the scandals that had occurred in motion pictures... and decided they had to do something to make it an Honorable profession so that's why they got the academy for the finest people in the industry, the finest writers, and to give them an accolade for quality. Well, I'm sorry to tell you I haven't seen much quality in any of the Academy shows I have witnessed and I've given up watching them... Two years ago I was asked to fly down from where I lived, buy a new frock of course, something lovely, and stay in the Beverly Hills Hotel, at my own expense, and have an escort, at my own expense. And they said, 'you must be dressed up at three thirty in the afternoon, because it goes on at five or whenever it was... so we parade through the lobby feeling ridiculous in evening clothes, get into this long stretch limousine. Well, we go through Beverly Hills down toward the Shrine auditorium... and there are telephones in all the cars and they say, 'Stay there! We're having a traffic jam. You can't get in'. There was no air conditioning. It was eighty-five outside. And we, my friend from England and I, we sat in this car for two hours and we finally got to the auditorium. There was no interview for us, no recognition. We were shown to our seats and boom the lights go out and the thing starts and my friend says to me 'do you think I can go to the ladies' room?'... When it was all over and we go outside there is no long white limousine for us. We stand in the cold... and nobody will do anything... finally two girls of questionable virtue came by in a car and took us home, back to the hotel. Very kind of them!

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