Joan Fontaine was born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland on October 22, 1917 in Tokyo, Japan.
The youngest daughter of Walter Augustus de Havilland and Lilian Augusta Ruse. Her father was a British patent attorney with a practice in Japan. Her mother was a British stage actress. She is the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland from who she has been estranged for decades.
Joan was a sickly child and upon the advise of a physician, Joan's mother moved her and her sister to the United States where they settled in California. Joan's health improved dramatically.
Joan is an extremely intelligent woman, scoring a 160 on an intelligence test when she was three.
Joan Fontaine made her stage debut in the West Coast production in Call it a Day in 1935 and soon signed an RKO contract.
Her film debut was a small role in No More Ladies (1935) starring Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery.
From 1935 to 1940, Joan appeared in such films as A Million to One (1937), You Can't Beat Love (1937), Blond Cheat (1938), Gunga Din (1939), and The Women (1939).
One night at a dinner party she was seated next to producer David O. Selznick. She and Selznick began discussing the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca and Selznick asked her to adution for the part of the unnamed heronie. She won the part.
In 1940, Rebecca was released and marked Hitchcock's directorial debut in America. The film was a success and Joan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
A year later she would land the role of Lina in Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941) and this time she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. She is th eonly actress to ever win an Academy Award for a performance in a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
During the 1940s, Joan starred in such films as The Constant Nymph (1943), Jane Eyre (1944), The Affairs of Susan (1945), Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948), and You Gotta Stay Happy (1948).
She would be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for The Constant Nymph (1943).
During the 1950s and 1960s, Joan starred in Born to Be Bad (1950), Ivanhoe (1952), The Bigamist (1952), Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956), Island in the Sun (1957), A Certain Smile (1958), Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea (1961), and Tender is the Night (1962).
During the 1950's, Joan Fontaine would make her Broadway debut in Tea and Sympathy. Later she would also appear in Forty Carrots during the 1970s.
Joan Fontaine appeared on numerous television shows during the 1950s and 1960s including Letter to Loretta, On Trial (aka The Joseph Cotton Show), General Electric Theater, Wagon Train, and The Alfred Hitchock Hour.
During the 1970s, Joan would appear in two television shows: The Users and Cannon and spent the rest of the decade in theater and stage work.
During the 1980s, Joan Fontaine returned to television appearing in Hotel, The Love Boat, the tv mini series Crossings and on Ryans Hope (for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award).
Joan Fontaine's final appearance was in the television special Good King Wenceslas (1994).
Joan Fontaine and her sister Olivia de Havilland where the first sisters to win Academy Awards and the first ones to be nominated in the same year. In 1941, Joan won the Academy Award for Suspicion beating her sister Olivia for Hold Back the Dawn.
During World War II, Joan worked as a nurses aide and made numerous appearances at the Hollywood Canteen in support of our troops.
Joan has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.
Joan Fontaine is a licensed pilot, champion balloonist, expert rider, prize-winning tuna fisherman, a hole-in-one golfer, Cordon Bleu chef and licensed interior decorator.
Joan now resides in Carmel, California, in relative seclusion, spending her time in her gardens, and with her dogs.