By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer
Joan Fontaine, who starred in a number of Hollywood classic films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Max Ophuls’ Letter From an Unknown Woman, died December 15 at the age of 96 from natural causes. Despite her Oscars and awards, Fontaine’s performances were often overshadowed by a decade-long feud with her sister Olivia de Havilland.
Can you imagine that? Winning an Oscar and everyone around you is asking about your sister and whether or not you two are ever going to make up! Now, before we get into Fontaine’s achievements, let’s talk about the sisterly feud. In 1941, both sisters were up for an Academy Award and faced very different reviews from critics. Havilland was actually the favored nominee, but at the last minute, The Academy awarded Fontaine with the Oscar. Since then, both sisters admitted to feeling angry and jealous of one another.
After winning the Oscar, Fontaine’s acting career really took off. During the late 1940s, she was cast in 4 melodramas, which earned her another Academy Award nomination. Her film success slowed momentarily in the 1950s, but she didn’t let that stop her. Directors weren’t falling at her feet for her to star in their movies, but the stage called her name and welcomed her with open arms! She received good reviews for her role as Laura in the Broadway play Tea and Sympathy.
In the end, Fontaine was a lot more than just Olivia De Havilland’s “rival” and sister. She was an amazing actress who, driven by her passion, succeeded in all that she planned. Even her death, apparently, was a one-up over her sister! “Olivia has always said I was first at everything – I got married first, got an Academy Award first, had a child first. If I die, she’ll be furious, because again I’ll have got there first,” she told People magazine in 1978. Rest in peace, Joan Fontaine; we hope your sister isn’t too upset that you stole the Grim Reaper’s attention!