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RIP Joan Fontaine
December 15, 2013 8:47 PM   Subscribe

Joan Fontaine, star of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca" and "Suspicion" (not to mention "Jane Eyre" and "Ivanhoe"), has died at the age of 96.

As EW mentions, she was one of the last living links to Hollywood's Golden Age. It is a distinction she shared with her older sister Olivia De Havilland, with whom she also had a bitter rivalry. Fontaine and De Havilland also have the unique distinction of being the only sisters to have both won acting Oscars.

Her screen test for "Rebecca"
Trailers for "Rebecca", "Suspicion" and "Jane Eyre"
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Miss de Haviland is still alive, which is rather remarkable. Fontaine also starred in "Letter From an Unknown Woman” (1948).
posted by Ideefixe at 9:02 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Her book, No Bed of Roses, mentions my husband's grandfather. The jist was, he met his wife at a hotel and they pretended to be strangers.

Carry on, La Fontaine.

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posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:17 PM on December 15, 2013


Goodness. She was one of the true greats.

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posted by hippybear at 9:19 PM on December 15, 2013


Monkeyface has long been the highest term of affection chez nous. I love how she shifts in this scene from helpless trembling doe to horsewomanly confidence.

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for you, Joan Fontaine.
posted by Elsa at 9:21 PM on December 15, 2013


A weekend for goodbyes: Peter O'Toole, Louisiana artist George Rodrigue, and now, Joan Fontaine. I am so glad we have the films and pictures they generously left us.
posted by Anitanola at 9:24 PM on December 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:27 PM on December 15, 2013


Olivia wins!
posted by pracowity at 9:31 PM on December 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Not a bad run at all.

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posted by MissySedai at 9:33 PM on December 15, 2013


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posted by sonascope at 9:40 PM on December 15, 2013


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posted by Lynsey at 9:44 PM on December 15, 2013


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posted by Iridic at 9:56 PM on December 15, 2013


"I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she'll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!"
posted by Violet Hour at 9:58 PM on December 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


"Emperor Waltz".

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posted by carping demon at 10:13 PM on December 15, 2013


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It's a bad day for classic Hollywood.
posted by Mezentian at 10:18 PM on December 15, 2013


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posted by brujita at 4:11 AM on December 16, 2013


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posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:19 AM on December 16, 2013


Joan Fontaine: (selected films: 39-41)

Suspicion 1941
Rebecca 1940
The Women 1939
Man of Conquest 1939
Gunga Din 1939


Olivia de Havilland: (selected films: 38-41)
1941 The Strawberry Blonde
1940 Santa Fe Trail
1939 Gone with the Wind
1939 Raffles
1939 The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
1939 Dodge City
1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood (Maid Marian)

That's some rivalry.

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posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:33 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Thorzdad at 4:50 AM on December 16, 2013


I've noticed that these classic Hollywood actresses, in a general sense, seem to have some crazy above average lifespans.

For example I watched The Broadway Melody (1929) last year, which is one of Hollywood's first talkies. I developed an insta-crush on lead actress Anita Page. "Aw, it's too bad she's probably been dead forever" I thought to myself. But then I checked her IMDb page and lo and behold she had died only recently at the age of 98! We totally could have watched the first season of Breaking Bad together.

Kirk Douglas is apparently immortal but whenever I Google actors in old movies I see lots of actresses who lived into their 90s, but not many of the men. You still see Lauren Bacall in new movies, but Bogart and Gable, for example, were both dead before JFK was president.
posted by dgaicun at 4:51 AM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Letter From an Unknown Woman is my favorite Fontaine movie. Very moving.

(And objectively superior to my favorite de Havilland movie: the obscure hippie horror Lady in a Cage (the film debut of James Caan)).
posted by dgaicun at 5:03 AM on December 16, 2013


> I've noticed that these classic Hollywood actresses, in a general sense, seem to have some crazy above average lifespans.

"Today, they're sensible and end up with better health. But we had more fun." -- Clara Bow

Still and all, it's a bit too early to know how many of today's celebrities will still be kicking around and telling off our great-grandchildren.
posted by ardgedee at 6:24 AM on December 16, 2013


Rebecca and Suspicion are two of my go-to movies for a cold rainy night under the covers with a hot toddy. She played the perfect 20th-century Gothic heroine.

And I loved her in Ivanhoe, in the absolutely thankless job of trying to compete with Elizabeth Taylor (heck, to even be noticed on the same screen).

Both the de Havilland sisters combined strength and fragility in a way I'm hard-pressed to compare to any other actresses, living or dead.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:51 AM on December 16, 2013


Luise Rainer is still alive!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 7:41 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


A true star in the Hollywood firmanent. What an incredible legacy of films she left and that was from just the first third of her life. I hope the rest of her life was happy.
posted by h00py at 7:53 AM on December 16, 2013


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posted by of strange foe at 8:21 AM on December 16, 2013


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posted by kinnakeet at 8:42 AM on December 16, 2013


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posted by bearwife at 10:55 AM on December 16, 2013


A couple of years back, after Elizabeth Taylor died, I compiled a non-exhaustive list of the Golden Agers still kicking around:
We still have Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine, Maureen O'Hara, Eli Wallach, Kirk Douglas, Herbert Lom, Luise Rainer, Ray Harryhausen, Mickey Rooney, Esther Williams, Deanna Durbin, Doris Day, Jackie Cooper, Cliff Robertson, Stanley Donen, Eva Marie Saint, Lauren Bacall, and Dorothy Malone...
Besides Fontaine, only Lom, Harryhausen, Williams, Durbin, Cooper, and Robertson have passed on since then. Everyone else on the list is at least 88 years old. "Crazy above average lifespans," indeed.
posted by Iridic at 11:18 AM on December 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by clone boulevard at 12:20 PM on December 16, 2013


Here's Joan and Orson Welles on the cover of the movie tie-in version of novel, Jane Eyre.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:28 PM on December 16, 2013


She was one of my favorites from that era.

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posted by ElleElle at 1:40 PM on December 16, 2013


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posted by haplesschild at 1:57 PM on December 16, 2013


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Fontaine was the only actor ever to win an Oscar in a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. That's truly remarkable.

Also, 100 of the Oldest Living Screen Stars of Note.
posted by crossoverman at 6:00 PM on December 16, 2013


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Another of the Hollywood Greats leaves us the poorer. God speed, Miss Fontaine!
posted by On the Corner at 10:03 AM on December 17, 2013


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