Back to IndieWire

R.I.P. Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

R.I.P. Joan Fontaine (1917-2013)

It has been a very sad weekend, as two of cinema’s most revered talents have passed away. On Saturday, it was Peter O’Toole, and just a day later, Joan Fontaine has left us at the age of 96.

While her big screen career was relatively brief—her last theatrical role was in the 1966 film “The Witches“—her impact was undeniable. In the span of three years, she was nominated for an Oscar three times, winning for Best Actress in Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic “Suspicion” (she was nominated in the same category for “Rebecca” in 1940 and “The Constant Nymph” in 1943). And in general, the 1940s found her doing some of her most memorable work including roles in Robert Stevenson‘s “Jane Eyre” opposite Orson Welles, Max Ophuls‘ “Letter From An Unknown Woman” and “Ivy.” 

By the ’60s, Fontaine had begun working more steadily in television and on stage, where she would work for the rest of her career (she reteamed with Hitchcock, appearing in “Paragon,” the season one, episode twenty entry in “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour“).

Fontaine was also known for her lifelong feud with sister Olivia de Havilland, one that started in childhood, with the actress believing their mother favored her older sibling and claiming that de Havilland fractured her collarbone after pushing her down the stairs as girls. Indeed,  Fontaine was forbidden from using the family name when following de Havilland into an acting career, it was just the start of a bitter relationship between the pair that was never amended. However, the pair are the only siblings in movie history to win Oscars for leading performances.

From the drama on screen and off, there were few like Fontaine, who even in her brief career made an impression on the silver screen few could achieve. She will be missed.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox