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.
Aunt of Benjamin Goodrich and Giselle Galante.