Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland (October 22, 1917 – December 15, 2013) known by the stage name Joan Fontaine, was a British-American actress, best known for her starring roles in classic Hollywood films. Fontaine appeared in over 45 feature films in a career that spanned five decades.
Born in Tokyo to British parents, Fontaine moved with her mother and sister, actress Olivia de Havilland, to California following her parents' divorce. She was an anaemic child and her childhood was subsequently marred by poor health, which did, however, improve by her teen years. After living and attending school in Japan for a short while, she began her stage career in 1935, signing a film contract with RKO Pictures the same year. After some minor roles, she received her first starring role in The Man Who Found Himself (1937); however, she failed to make a significant impression and her contract was not renewed upon its expiration.
Her career prospects improved greatly after her starring role in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed Rebecca (1940), for which she received her first of three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress; the following year, she won for her role in Suspicion (1941). She appeared mostly in drama films through the 1940s; by the next decade, her career began to decline and she moved into stage and television roles. She appeared in fewer films into the 1960s, her final feature film being The Witches (1966).
Fontaine was active in radio, television, and the stage for most of her middle to later life. She released an autobiography, No Bed of Roses, in 1978; she continued to act until her last performance in 1994. Fontaine lived in Carmel Highlands, California, where she owned a home, Villa Fontana. She died there of natural causes at the age of 96 in 2013. Having won an Academy Award for her role in Suspicion, Fontaine is the only actor to have won an Academy Award for acting in a Hitchcock film. Furthermore, her sister and she remain the only siblings to have won major acting Academy Awards.
Married four times, she had one child and adopted another, from whom she was later estranged. Her relationship with her sister was long known to be acrimonious, and included long periods of estrangement, especially in later life.