Biography

Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland on October 22, 1917, in Tokyo, Japan, in what was known as the International Settlement. Her father was a British patent attorney with a lucrative practice in Japan, but due to Joan and older sister Olivia de Havilland's recurring ailments the family moved to California in the hopes of improving their health. Mrs. de Havilland and the two girls settled in Saratoga while their father went back to his practice in Japan. Joan's parents did not get along well and divorced soon afterward. Mrs. de Havilland had a desire to be an actress but her dreams were curtailed when she married, but now she hoped to pass on her dream to Olivia and Joan.

While Olivia pursued a stage career, Joan went back to Tokyo, where she attended the American School. In 1934 she came back to California, where her sister was already making a name for herself on the stage. Joan likewise joined a theater group in San Jose and then Los Angeles to try her luck there. After moving to L.A., Joan adopted the name of Joan Burfield because she didn't want to infringe upon Olivia, who was using the family surname. She tested at MGM and gained a small role in No More Ladies (1935), but she was scarcely noticed and Joan was idle for a year and a half. During this time she roomed with Olivia, who was having much more success in films.

In 1937, this time calling herself Joan Fontaine, she landed a better role as Trudy Olson in You Can't Beat Love (1937) and then an uncredited part in Quality Street (1937). Although the next two years saw her in better roles, she still yearned for something better. In 1940 she garnered her first Academy Award nomination for Rebecca (1940). Although she thought she should have won, (she lost out to Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle (1940)), she was now an established member of the Hollywood set. She would again be Oscar-nominated for her role as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth in Suspicion (1941), and this time she won.

Joan was making one film a year but choosing her roles well. In 1942 she starred in the well-received This Above All (1942). The following year she appeared in The Constant Nymph (1943). Once again she was nominated for the Oscar, she lost out to Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette (1943). By now it was safe to say she was more famous than her older sister and more fine films followed. In 1948, she accepted second billing to Bing Crosby in The Emperor Waltz (1948).

Joan took the year of 1949 off before coming back in 1950 with September Affair (1950) and Born to Be Bad (1950). In 1951 she starred in Paramount's Darling, How Could You! (1951), which turned out badly for both her and the studio and more weak productions followed. Absent from the big screen for a while, she took parts in television and dinner theaters. She also starred in many well-produced Broadway plays such as Forty Carats and The Lion in Winter. Her last appearance on the big screen was The Witches (1966) and her final appearance before the cameras was Good King Wenceslas (1994). She is, without a doubt, a lasting movie icon.

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Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland on October 22, 1917, in Tokyo, Japan, in what was known as the International Settlement. Her father was a British patent attorney with a lucrative practice in Japan, but due to Joan and older sister Olivia de Havilland's recurring ailments the family moved to California in the hopes of improving their health. Mrs. de Havilland and the two girls settled in Saratoga while their father went back to his practice in Japan. Joan's parents did not get along well and divorced soon afterward. Mrs. de Havilland had a desire to be an actress but her dreams were curtailed when she married, but now she hoped to pass on her dream to Olivia and Joan.

While Olivia pursued a stage career, Joan went back to Tokyo, where she attended the American School. In 1934 she came back to California, where her sister was already making a name for herself on the stage. Joan likewise joined a theater group in San Jose and then Los Angeles to try her luck there. After moving to L.A., Joan adopted the name of Joan Burfield because she didn't want to infringe upon Olivia, who was using the family surname. She tested at MGM and gained a small role in No More Ladies (1935), but she was scarcely noticed and Joan was idle for a year and a half. During this time she roomed with Olivia, who was having much more success in films.

In 1937, this time calling herself Joan Fontaine, she landed a better role as Trudy Olson in You Can't Beat Love (1937) and then an uncredited part in Quality Street (1937). Although the next two years saw her in better roles, she still yearned for something better. In 1940 she garnered her first Academy Award nomination for Rebecca (1940). Although she thought she should have won, (she lost out to Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle (1940)), she was now an established member of the Hollywood set. She would again be Oscar-nominated for her role as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth in Suspicion (1941), and this time she won.

Joan was making one film a year but choosing her roles well. In 1942 she starred in the well-received This Above All (1942). The following year she appeared in The Constant Nymph (1943). Once again she was nominated for the Oscar, she lost out to Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette (1943). By now it was safe to say she was more famous than her older sister and more fine films followed. In 1948, she accepted second billing to Bing Crosby in The Emperor Waltz (1948).

Joan took the year of 1949 off before coming back in 1950 with September Affair (1950) and Born to Be Bad (1950). In 1951 she starred in Paramount's Darling, How Could You! (1951), which turned out badly for both her and the studio and more weak productions followed. Absent from the big screen for a while, she took parts in television and dinner theaters. She also starred in many well-produced Broadway plays such as Forty Carats and The Lion in Winter. Her last appearance on the big screen was The Witches (1966) and her final appearance before the cameras was Good King Wenceslas (1994). She is, without a doubt, a lasting movie icon.

Personal Info

Known For Acting

Gender Female

Known Credits 63

Birthday 1917-10-22

Day of Death 2013-12-15

Place of Birth Tokyo, Japan

Official Site -

Also Known As

  • Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland

Acting TV ShowsMovies

2013 Talking Pictures(1 episode) as Herself
1999 Hitchcock, Selznick and the End of Hollywood (American Masters) as (archive footage)
1994 Good King Wenceslas as Königin Ludmilla
1986 Dark Mansions as Margaret Drake
1983 Hotel(1 episode)
1982 All By Myself: The Eartha Kitt Story as herself
1981 Aloha Paradise(1 episode)
1978 The Users as Grace St. George
1977 The Love Boat(1 episode)
1971 Cannon(2 episodes)
1966 The Witches as Gwen Mayfield
1964 The Bing Crosby Show(1 episode)
1962 Tender Is the Night as Baby Warren
1961 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Dr. Susan Hiller
1959 One Step Beyond(1 episode)
1958 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse(1 episode)
1958 A Certain Smile as Françoise Ferrand
1957 Until They Sail as Anne Leslie
1957 Island in the Sun as Mavis Norman
1956 Beyond a Reasonable Doubt as Susan Spencer
1956 Serenade as Kendall Hale
1955 The 20th Century Fox Hour(1 episode)
1954 Casanova's Big Night as Francesca Bruni
1953 The Bigamist as Eve Graham
1953 Flight to Tangier as Susan Lane
1953 Letter to Loretta(1 episode)
1953 The Academy Awards(5 episodes)
1953 General Electric Theater(5 episodes)
1953 Decameron Nights as Fiametta / Bartolomea / Ginevra / Isabella
1952 Something to Live For as Jenny Carey
1952 Ivanhoe as Rowena
1951 Othello as Page (Uncredited)
1951 Darling, How Could You! as Alice Grey
1950 September Affair as Marianne 'Manina' Stuart
1950 Born to Be Bad as Christabel Caine Carey
1948 Kiss the Blood Off My Hands as Jane Wharton
1948 You Gotta Stay Happy as Dee Dee Dillwood
1948 The Emperor Waltz as Johanna Augusta Franziska
1948 Letter from an Unknown Woman as Lisa Berndle
1947 Ivy as Ivy Lexton
1946 From This Day Forward as Susan Cummings
1945 The Affairs of Susan as Susan Darell
1944 Frenchman's Creek as Dona St. Columb
1943 Jane Eyre as Jane Eyre
1943 The Constant Nymph as Tessa Sanger
1942 This Above All as Prudence Cathaway
1942 Breakdowns of 1942 as Herself (uncredited)
1941 Suspicion as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth
1940 Rebecca as Mrs. de Winter (2nd)
1939 Man of Conquest as Eliza Allen
1939 Gunga Din as Emmy
1939 The Women as Mrs. John Day (Peggy)
1938 The Duke Of West Point as Ann Porter
1938 Sky Giant as Meg Lawrence
1938 Blond Cheat as Julie Evans
1938 Maid's Night Out as Sheila Harrison
1937 A Damsel in Distress as Lady Alyce Marshmorton
1937 Music for Madame as Jean Clemens
1937 You Can't Beat Love as Trudy Olson
1937 The Man Who Found Himself as Doris King
1937 Quality Street as Charlotte Parratt
1937 A Million To One as Joan Stevens
1935 No More Ladies as Caroline Rumsey

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