Olivia de Havilland and her sister, Joan Fontaine, were both incredibly popular and well-received actresses during their time in the era of classic Hollywood. However, the two of them had a lifelong feud and were very competitive with one another.
Their lifelong feud as acting sisters ended over the weekend, when Joan Fontaine passed away in her home in Carmel, California. She died of natural casuses at the age of 96.
As sisters, they were nominated against one another during Academy Award ceremonies, and were bitter rivals with one another throughout their career. This happened most notably when Joan Fontaine beat out de Havilland for the Oscar for Best Actress in 1941 for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion.
While a bitter rival with her sister since their childhood, and as they grew up to star in motion pictures, Olivia de Havilland is very saddened by the loss of her sister. The 97-year-old actress released a statement saying that she was “shocked and saddened by the news, and that she was grateful for the many kind expressions of sympathies.”
Both actresses won Oscars throughout their long film careers, and Olivia de Havilland may be remembered most for her role as Melanie in Gone With The Wind. She also won Oscars for To Each His Own and The Heiress.
The loss of Joan Fontaine is significant for fans of classic Hollywood, and in addition to de Havilland, she was one of the last remaining links to the classic period of films. She had not been seen on the big screen since 1966 in The Witches, but she was in select episodes of several television series and TV movies.
Olivia de Havilland is a longtime resident of Paris, and over the years she has often declined to talk about her sister. De Havilland also spoke of her feud with her sister when saying “Imagine what we could have done if we had gotten together. We could have selected the right scripts, the right directors, the right producers—we could have built our own empire. But it was not to be.”
While Joan Fontaine had disappeared off of the Hollywood grid for several years, de Havilland appeared at the 75th Annual Academy Awards, where she received a standing ovation. She took the stage to present 59 of her fellow past winners who had gathered for the landmark show.
well damn. Joan Fontaine died. her best drama was The Women and not speaking to her sis Olivia de Havilland for DECADES
— Donyelle The Sage (@Mlle_D) December 16, 2013
Joan Fontaine has officially ended the feud between her sister Olivia de Havilland and herself. On this plane anyway. #RIPJoanFontaine
— Elizabeth Bogosian (@Brainyack524) December 16, 2013
Despite the troubled relationship between the two sisters throughout their lives, Olivia de Havilland is deeply hurt and shocked by the death of her sister.
The two oldest surviving Oscar winners remain Luise Rainer, who will be 104 next month, and Joan Fontaine's sister Olivia De Havilland, 97.
— Lou Lumenick (@LouLumenick) December 16, 2013
I kind of thought both Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland would live forever.
— Cristina (@_cristina_) December 16, 2013
Image via Wikimedia Commons