Joan Fontaine, Hollywood Heroine

Joan Fontaine, Hollywood Heroine

Joan Fontaine is little sister to movie maiden, Olivia De Havilland. The two were born in Japan, to British parents. Their father was a patent attorney, with a practice in, Tokyo. Their mother, Lillian Fontaine was a stage actress, who gave it up for her husband’s travels & to raise her daughters, whom she prepped to be little starlets, themselves. Joan had started to develop health problems, and after a nasty scandal involving Mr. de Havilland & some geisha girls, mother Lillian took her 2 daughters to, California, where Joan’s health dramatically, improved. In 1935, Joan made her stage debut and was spotted & signed by, RKO. The same year she made her big, screen debut in, “No More Ladies”. RKO tried to build Joan up as an up & comer, but she didn’t quite shine as brightly, as they’d hoped. Although she made several films with them, RKO released Joan from her contract. Meanwhile, big sis Olivia was sailing the high-seas, with Errol Flynn and being the frenemy, of Bette Davis. Joan didn’t let this get her down and one night, her luck changed. At a dinner party, she was seated next to the great director, David O. Selznick. She and Selznick began discussing the novel “Rebecca”, and Selznick asked her to audition for the lead, part. When the time came, Selznick didn’t make it easy. Joan spent a grueling six-month series of film tests, contesting hundreds of other actresses, before Selznick gave her the part, on her 22nd birthday. 1940’s “Rebecca”, starred Laurence Olivier alongside Fontaine, and was marked the American debut of British director Alfred Hitchcock. It was a smash hit! The critics loved the film & Fontaine was nominated for an Oscar. Joan was in the light, instead of the shadow of her big sister. Ginger Rogers took the Oscar home, for her role as, Kitty Foyle. The next year, Joan secured her Oscar and place in Hollywood history. She won Best Actress for, “Suspicion” co-starring, Cary Grant and again, directed by Hitchcock..surprisingly, this is the only Academy Award winning performance directed by Hitch! Through the ’40’s Joan found her niche in romantic, melodramas. By the end 1949, Joan was a thrice, Oscar-nominated, actress. So, is she a vixen, though? Well, Joan fits the criteria…beautiful, talented, intelligent, married at least 3 times, and re-invented herself, when her career slowed. Joan wrote an auto-biography, tell-all (very, vixen-ish!) “No Bed of Roses”, in 1978 and holds a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Vixen, indeed!!

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2 thoughts on “Joan Fontaine, Hollywood Heroine

  1. Pingback: Remember Joan Fontaine With This Haunting Clip From Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” (1940) « HORROR BOOM

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