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Joan Fontaine Dies at Age 96 (Video Clips from 'Rebecca,' 'Suspicion,' 'Letter from an Unknown Woman' and More UPDATED)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 16, 2013 at 12:42PM

Hollywood Golden Age star Joan Fontaine has died of natural causes at her home in Carmel, California at age 96.
Joan Fontaine wins the Oscar
Joan Fontaine wins the Oscar

Hollywood Golden Age star Joan Fontaine has died of natural causes at her home in Carmel, California at age 96. 

My favorite Fontaine role is the one she won an Oscar for, in Alfred Hitchcock's "Suspicion," opposite Cary Grant, along with her nominated breakthrough performance in Hitchcock's 1940  Daphne Du Maurier classic "Rebecca," opposite Laurence Olivier. In both parts this gorgeous Hollywood actress was able to persuade audiences that she was a real woman like the rest of us, not nearly as beautiful and confident as she should be.

Fontaine's older sister was also her greatest rival, Hollywood star Olivia de Havilland, who lost the Oscar for "Hold Back the Dawn" to Fontaine in 1942. Fontaine was also nominated as Best Actress in 1943 for Edmund Goulding's "The Constant Nymph."

Check out this charming clip from Max Ophuls' classic "Letter from an Unknown Woman," featuring the courtship between Fontaine's Lisa Berndle and Louis Jourdan's Stefan Brand:


 Fontaine with Laurence Olivier in "Rebecca":



The "Suspicion" trailer:


 And Fontaine in "The Women":

This article is related to: Obit

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.