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View Full Version : Hollywood Memarees: Joan Fontaine & Olivia de Havilland; Still Catty After 9 Decades



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Rex
09-13-2010, 05:08 PM
Old Hollywood still has the best DIRT, I swear.... (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1311426/Olivia-Havilland-Joan-Fontaine-Their-decade-feud.html#ixzz0zOeYdO6o)


Last Thursday, amid the formal splendour of the Élysée Palace in Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy conferred France’s most prestigious accolade, the Légion d’honneur, on a little, silver-haired lady, aged 94, with sparkling brown eyes and an impishly familiar smile.
That bewitching smile and those amazing eyes once made Olivia de Havilland the queen of Hollywood and the winner of two Oscars.


But one member of her immediate family — and the one who has known her longer and better than anyone in this world — her only sibling, Joan Fontaine, 92, herself an Oscar-winner of equally illustrious status as a legend of stage and screen, was conspicuous by her absence from the ceremony.
When the President placed the blood-red ribbon and star of the Légion d’honneur around Olivia’s neck, Joan was 6,000 miles away at her home in Carmel, California, studiously ignoring the occasion — just as she has ignored every aspect of her sister’s existence for decades.
These two formidable grandes dames of the screen have been at loggerheads for most of their lives. Both frankly confess that, even as children, they detested one another.
As someone with a close-in-age older sibling, I can feel Joan's pain more....


She recalled how, in July 1933, when she was 15, ‘Olivia threw me down on the poolside flagstone border, jumped on top of me, and fractured my collarbone’.
There are two sides to every story, but our sweet Melanie was a bully to her older sister!


But it was in their professional lives that their mistrust reached a crescendo. Joan, keen to win the role of Melanie in Gone With The Wind, was considered ‘too chic! Melanie must be a plain southern girl’.
‘What about my sister?’ said Joan, a query that directly led to Olivia gaining the role, an indebtedness to Joan she would come to resent. Olivia, for her part, had been angling for the role of the second Mrs de Winter in Rebecca, but the director Alfred Hitchcock chose Joan instead. Both sisters were Oscar-nominated, Olivia for Gone With The Wind, Joan for Rebecca.
Team Joan :shuffle: Olivia would have been awful as the second Mrs. De Winter, but I think Joan would have done all right as Melanie. But it's all so much water under the bridge, innit?


But the final break between the sisters came in February 1975, when their mother died from cancer.

‘I was not invited to her memorial service,’ alleged Joan. ‘Only after burning the telephone wires from coast to coast’ — and threatening to ‘call the Press and give them the whole story’ — was the service postponed and Joan and her daughter Debbie permitted to attend.

At the service, the sisters didn’t speak to each other. Olivia ‘scattered a handful of ashes, then silently passed the container to me.

'Thus I said goodbye to my mother. As for Olivia, I had no words at all.’

Olivia’s daughter, Gisele, and her son, Benjamin, were remembered ‘generously’ in Lilian’s will. But ‘not even a trinket’ was left to Joan’s daughter, Deborah.

Three years later, the publication of Joan’s autobiography, No Bed Of Roses — mischievously re-titled by the second of her four husbands, film producer William Dozier, as No Word Of Truth — hardened the estrangement beyond recovery.

It presented a venal portrait of Olivia, who was said to regard the book as ‘poisonous’. At the 50th anniversary of the Oscars in 1979, Olivia and Joan had to be seated at
opposite ends of the stage. Outside, in the corridor, the sisters passed each other without a glance. BITTAHNESS 4EVAH.....:fragile:

Oh well, not all sibs get along. Discuss.:cool:

Nomad
09-13-2010, 05:19 PM
Of the two, I think Olivia was the better actress. I remember reading that Joan had a habit of calling for retakes and overacting more and more in each successive take. Hitchcock let her do it, but once he was satisfied with a take, he stopped putting film in the camera for Joan's vanity retakes.

manleywoman
09-13-2010, 05:28 PM
I've heard about this too.

As someone who also doesn't get along with her sister, I can relate.

essence_of_soy
09-13-2010, 05:35 PM
Wow, if they ever decide to remake Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, we have your leading 'ladies' right there.

Rex
09-13-2010, 05:35 PM
Of the two, I think Olivia was the better actress. I remember reading that Joan had a habit of calling for retakes and overacting more and more in each successive take. Hitchcock let her do it, but once he was satisfied with a take, he stopped putting film in the camera for Joan's vanity retakes.

Well, on paper, yeah, since Olivia has more Oscars and Oscar nominations....but something about Joan's screen presence that I liked. She was a neurotic butterfly.

Jayar
09-13-2010, 05:58 PM
I do theater on the Monterey Peninsula, and Joan has seen some of my shows. I had no clue that she was such a decorated actress...

Wyliefan
09-13-2010, 06:12 PM
And they both look so demure. :D

Ironic that Joan was considered too chic for Melanie, because it seemed like she was always the actress Hollywood went to when the script called for a plain woman but they didn't really want to use a plain woman. Jane Eyre, Mrs. De Winter, Lina in Suspicion . . . she played all of them even though she was too pretty. Not that she played them badly -- she was very talented -- but her looks weren't right. Olivia actually might have been a better fit for some of those roles!


Hitchcock let her do it, but once he was satisfied with a take, he stopped putting film in the camera for Joan's vanity retakes.

Smart man, Hitchcock.

orientalplane
09-13-2010, 06:21 PM
Ironic that Joan was considered too chic for Melanie, because it seemed like she was always the actress Hollywood went to when the script called for a plain woman but they didn't really want to use a plain woman. Jane Eyre, Mrs. De Winter, Lina in Suspicion . . . she played all of them even though she was too pretty. Not that she played them badly -- she was very talented !

Oh, I thought she was terrible as Jane. Too pretty yes, but she didn't seem to have any understanding of Jane's character. Too bland, not headstrong enough; she didn't come close to capturing the combination of inner passion and outer reserve. She was better as Mrs. De Winter, IMO, but still not right for the part. But then the whole production of Rebecca was so Hollywoodised. Cornwall just isn't like that!

Rex
09-13-2010, 06:24 PM
"Mackshim, Mackshim! What IS IT? What have I DONE? Oh, Mackshim!" :rofl: I loved Joan in Rebecca.

duane
09-13-2010, 07:15 PM
Wow...94 and 92. I wonder if sisterly hatred leads to longevity.

Loved Olivia in 'The Heiress'! One of my all-time favorites.

Wyliefan
09-13-2010, 07:24 PM
Oh, I thought she was terrible as Jane. Too pretty yes, but she didn't seem to have any understanding of Jane's character. Too bland, not headstrong enough; she didn't come close to capturing the combination of inner passion and outer reserve. She was better as Mrs. De Winter, IMO, but still not right for the part. But then the whole production of Rebecca was so Hollywoodised. Cornwall just isn't like that!

Hmm -- now I think of it, I don't think I actually saw her play Jane. Guess I was just thinking of the other two roles when I wrote that.

I agree that production of Rebecca was very "Hollywood." Although I'm a classic-movie fanatic, and crazy about Hitchcock to boot, the miniseries version with Charles Dance, Diana Rigg, and Emilia Fox was a much better adaptation.

orientalplane
09-13-2010, 07:26 PM
I loved Joan in Rebecca.

I loved her in Letter From an Unknown Woman - her best role IMO. She had just the right kind of vulnerable quality to make it convincing and truly heartbreaking. It makes me cry every time I see it. :wuzrobbed

Rex
09-13-2010, 07:46 PM
I loved her in Letter From an Unknown Woman - her best role IMO. She had just the right kind of vulnerable quality to make it convincing and truly heartbreaking. It makes me cry every time I see it. :wuzrobbed

Oh, that movie :swoon:. That isn't just a romantic movie, it's ultra-romantic. The ending is very weepy.

I also loved The Constant Nymph, although copies of it are hard to come by - the estate of the author whose book the film is based on only allows it to be shown on college campuses :confused:. I had to watch it via duplicitous means...but it's a great flick with her and Charles Boyer. Joan is quite believable as a young teenager - she was very slender and petite, and could get away with playing younger than herself.

Beefcake
09-13-2010, 07:51 PM
Wow...94 and 92. I wonder if sisterly hatred leads to longevity.
Could be could be.

'I absolutely REFUSE to die before that bitch!' :angryfire


Loved Olivia in 'The Heiress'!
Ooh, me too. And it was one of Monty Clift's wonderful performances, as well. He was just ... beautiful back then.

Thanks for the topic and the :drama: update, Rex.

Cheylana
09-13-2010, 08:18 PM
I agree that production of Rebecca was very "Hollywood." Although I'm a classic-movie fanatic, and crazy about Hitchcock to boot, the miniseries version with Charles Dance, Diana Rigg, and Emilia Fox was a much better adaptation.
It's hard for me to think of Rebecca as a Hitchcock film, since Selznick basically un-did all of Hitchcock's touches in the editing room. Which explains the Hollywood-ishness, IMO. Still love the film anyway.

I really enjoyed both of the sisters and refuse to pick a favorite! :D