Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine has died, per the AP and multiple news reports. She was 96. Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland to British parents in Japan, Fontaine began her film career under contract with RKO in films like The Man Who Found Himself (1937), her official onscreen “introduction,” A Damsel in Distress (1937) opposite Fred Astaire, and George Cukor’s The Women (1939). A year after leaving RKO, Fontaine starred in the gothic thriller Rebecca as a woman haunted by her new husband’s (Laurence Olivier) dead wife. The film, Alfred Hitchcock‘s American debut, was nominated for 11 Oscars and won two including Best Picture. Fontaine earned her first Best Actress nod and reteamed with Hitch the following year for another domestic thriller, Suspicion, which won her the Academy Award over sister Olivia de Havilland, who was herself nominated for Hold Back The Dawn. Fontaine’s third Best Actress nomination was awarded for 1943’s The Constant Nymph. Subsequent films include Jane Eyre (1943), the Cannes-entry noir Ivy (1947), Max Ophüls’ Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948), Casanova’s Big Night with Bob Hope (1954), Fritz Lang’s Beyond A Reasonable Doubt (1956), Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961), Tender Is the Night (1962), and the Hammer horror pic The Witches (1966). After turning to television, Fontaine earned an Emmy for her guest run on Ryan’s Hope and made her final appearance in the 1994 TV movie Good King Wenceslas.
R.I.P. Joan Fontaine
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