Joan Fontaine was an iconic British-American actress born on October 22, 1917, in Tokyo, Japan, to British parents. She was christened Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, and later known professionally as Joan Fontaine. Her elder sister, Olivia de Havilland, also became a famous actress. Both sisters experienced a storied and at times competitive relationship throughout their careers.
Fontaine's career began to take off in the late 1930s, and she is perhaps best known for her collaborations with director Alfred Hitchcock. Her role in Hitchcock's 1940 film Rebecca earned her an Academy Award nomination, and her performance in Suspicion (1941), another Hitchcock film, won her the Academy Award for Best Actress, beating out her sister Olivia in the same year.
Throughout her career, Joan Fontaine took on roles in a variety of genres but was particularly noted for her work in dramas and romantic films. Some of her other memorable films include Jane Eyre (1943), where she starred opposite Orson Welles; Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), a critically acclaimed drama by Max Ophüls; and Ivanhoe (1952), a medieval adventure film.
Apart from her notable film career, Fontaine also appeared on stage and television. Her Broadway credits include Tea and Sympathy (1953). Joan Fontaine's final roles in movies and television were in the early 1990s, after which she retired from acting.
Her personal life included four marriages, each of which ended in divorce, and she had two children. She wrote an autobiography, No Bed of Roses (1978), which detailed her life experiences including her complicated relationship with her sister, with whom she reportedly had a lifelong rivalry.
Joan Fontaine passed away on December 15, 2013, at the age of 96 in California. Her legacy in Hollywood is marked by her elegance, versatility, and the sophisticated characters she brought to the silver screen.