R.I.P. Joan Fontaine 1917-2013

Written by Whitney Scott Bain Monday, 16 December 2013

Movie News

Joan Fontaine, star of two Alfred Hitchcock thrillers - Rebecca and Notorious - has passed away.

Born Jon de Beauvoir de Havilland, the younger sister of rival Olivia de Havilland, was born in Tokyo, Japan where their father was a British patent attorney.

Due to Olivia’s health aliments, the family moved to Saratoga, California, but a divorce between their parents led their father to go back to Japan with Joan as Olivia stayed in California to pursue a stage career.

As Olivia became successful, Joan decided to come back to the States and enrolled in acting classes in San Jose, California before finally moving to Los Angeles changing her name to Joan Burfield.

After a smattering of small roles left her unsatisfied with her career, she changed her last name taking the last name from her step-father, George Fontaine and was chosen by Alfred Hitchcock for the lead in Rebecca where she was nominated for an Academy Award in 1940 for Best Actress, only losing to Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle. The next year, Miss Fontaine would win the coveted award for her work in Hitchcock’s Suspicion. In 1961, she portrayed Dr. Susan Hiller in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

She became a licensed pilot, champion balloonist, a hole-in-one golfer, a Cordon Bleu chef, a prize winning tuna fisherman and licensed interior decorator. She was also briefly married to actor (Corporal Barnes in The Thing From Another World) and producer (Batman, The Green Hornet) William Dozier.

Her career would last until 1994 when she retired from acting. Queen Ludmilla in The Good King Wenceslas was her final screen role.

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