Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, who was to become known as Joan Fontaine, was born in Tokyo on October 22 nd 1917. The sister of Olivia de Havilland, she was the daughter of a British attorney. Joan, Olivia and their mother moved to California a little later, with their father remaining in Japan, and not long after their parents decided to divorce.
Olivia decided to take up acting, and Joan decided to move back to Tokyo and attend the American School. She returned to California in 1934 and began to try out acting but without much success. Joan decided to head for Los Angeles to see whether she could secure any acting work there. Since Olivia was doing quite well with her acting career, Joan decided not to use the same surname, and changed her name to Joan Burfield.
In 1935 she took an insignificant part in ‘No More Ladies’, and MGM production. The next eighteen months saw Joan lodging with her far more successful sister, Olivia, and doing nothing in the way of movie acting. After this time, she changed her name again, to Joan Fontaine. She secured slightly better roles in movies such as ‘You Can’t Beat Love’, and ‘Quality Street’ during the late 1930s.
It was in the 1940s that Joan’s career really took off, and she received acting nominations and awards for movies such as ‘Rebecca’. ‘Suspicion’, ‘The Song of Bernadette’, and ‘The Emperor Waltz’. This was followed in the 1950s with movies such as ‘September Affair’, and ‘Born to be Bad’. It was also during the 1950s that her movies became less popular, and she made her last movie performance in 1966 in ’The Devil’s Own’.These days, Joan still does some stage appearances, as well as writing and lecturing.
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