Fontaine, Joan (1917–)

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Fontaine, Joan (1917–)

English-born actress. Name variations: acted under names Joan Burfield and Joan St. John. Born Joan de Beauvoire de Havilland, Oct 22, 1917, in Tokyo, Japan; dau. of Walter (patent attorney) and Lillian (Ruse) de Havilland (both British); sister of actress Olivia de Havilland (b. 1916); m. Brian Aherne (actor), 1939 (div. 1944); m. William Dozier (producer), 1946 (div. 1951); m. Collier Young (producer-screenwriter), 1952 (div. 1961); m. Alfred Wright Jr. (journalist), 1964 (div.); children: (2nd m.) Deborah; (3rd m.) adopted daughter Marita from Peru.

Made film debut in No More Ladies (1935); borrowed the name Fontaine from mother's 2nd husband, and made a series of forgettable pictures, including A Damsel in Distress (1937), which she would later recall as aptly named; came to prominence as the 2nd Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca, for which she was nominated for an Oscar (1940); won Academy Award for Best Actress for Suspicion (1941), and was nominated once more for The Constant Nymph (1943); appeared frequently on stage; on tv, played the matriarch in "Dark Mansions"; other films include Quality Street (1937), Gunga Din (1939), The Women (1939), This Above All (1942), Jane Eyre (1944), Frenchman's Creek (1944), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Born to be Bad (1950), Ivanhoe (1952), Island in the Sun (1957), Until They Sail (1957), A Certain Smile (1958), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) and Tender Is the Night (1961).

See also autobiography No Bed of Roses (Morrow, 1978); Charles Higham, Sisters: The Story of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine; and Women in World History.