Olivia de Havilland and her sister, Joan Fontaine, were both enormously successful actresses who came up in the film business together. However, that didn’t mean they were close; in fact, their feuding often went public and is said to go back to their childhoods, when their fighting often became violent. Now, after Fontaine’s death, de Havilland has made a rare public statement about her sister and says that despite a lifetime of bad blood, she will never forget her.
“Joan was her kid sister – of course she’s hugely sad at her passing,’ said one of Ms De Havilland’s friends. “She’s certainly in mourning and has made it clear that she will never forget Joan.”
The sisters were just 15 months apart, and it’s been said that their rivalry was compounded by their mother, a woman who pushed her children towards the spotlight. When both of them were nominated for an Academy Award in 1941 for Best Actress, Fontaine said she expected her sister to cause a scene out of jealousy when Fontaine won for “Suspicion”.
“All the animus we’d felt toward each other as children, the hair-pullings, the savage wrestling matches, the time Olivia fractured my collarbone, all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery,” she wrote in her 1978 memoir “No Bed of Roses”. “My paralysis was total. I felt Olivia would spring across the table and grab me by the hair. I felt age 4, being confronted by my older sister. Damn it, I’d incurred her wrath again!”
Fontaine died in her sleep at the age of 96 on Sunday, and afterward The Hollywood Reporter recalled a quote she’d given during an interview: “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.”
Image: Wikimedia Commons