Joan Fontaine, actress who won Oscar for ‘Suspicion,’ dies at 96

Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer in "The Constant Nymph" (1943).
(Warner Bros.)
<i> This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details. </i>

Joan Fontaine, the coolly beautiful 1940s actress who won an Oscar for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Suspicion” and who became almost as well-known for her lifelong feud with her famous older sister, Olivia de Havilland, has died. She was 96.

Fontaine died Sunday of natural causes at her home in Carmel, said her assistant, Susan Pfeiffer.

In addition to winning an Academy Award as best actress for “Suspicion,” Fontaine was also nominated as best actress for her role in Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” (1940) and, three years later, for Edmund Goulding’s “The Constant Nymph.”

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Her Oscar-winning performance as the threatened wife in “Suspicion,” opposite Cary Grant, was bestowed in 1941, the same year that De Havilland was nominated for “Hold Back the Dawn.”

In all, Fontaine had three Oscar nominations and one win; De Havilland had five nominations and two wins. De Havilland, partly because of her role as Melanie Hamilton in 1939’s classic “Gone With the Wind,” would be the one with the more enduring film legacy.

A complete obituary will follow at

[For the Record, 6:35 p.m. Dec. 15: An earlier version of this post said Olivia de Havilland received an Academy Award nomination for 1941’s “To Each His Own.” She was nominated for 1941’s “Hold Back the Dawn.” De Havilland later received an Academy Award for “To Each His Own” (1946).]


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