What was the origin of the rivalry between Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine?

Some may still be unaware that Olivia de Havilland Y Joan Fontaine they were sisters .. and cheers. The famous actresses never got along, never worked together and did not hesitate to air their disagreements in public. Their enmity was no secret. It came long, from its earliest childhood, and it became more acute with the passage of time, competing fiercely on and off the big screen. They hated each other to death.

Undoubtedly, their lousy fraternal relationship could well have shaped a script of those that take out the dirty laundry of anyone exposing them to the avid viewer. It was even said that the text of What Happened to Baby Jane?, a film starring staunch enemies Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, was inspired by them.

Actress Olivia de Havilland in a 1955 picture

Silver Screen Collection / Getty

Havilland was the oldest. Both were born in Tokyo, the city to which the sisters’ British parents moved. The father, Walter de Havilland, was a lawyer specializing in international patents and the mother, Lilian Rush, a frustrated actress. The marriage would end up divorcing and the mother rebuilt her life with her daughters in California. There she remarried a businessman named George Milan Fontaine, and became obsessed with young women succeeding in the movies.

Olivia was the pretty, diligent, mommy’s right eye, and Joan a sickly creature that Lilian treated with disgust. It was the mother who nurtured this unhealthy competition between them from the beginning. As girls they already fought and had strong arguments. Once, sweet Olivia broke her little sister’s collarbone.

From left to right, Hattie MacDaniel, Olivia de Havilland and Vivien Leigh in a scene from the film.

From left to right, Hattie MacDaniel, Olivia de Havilland and Vivien Leigh in a scene from ‘Gone with the Wind’

To differentiate yourself in the artistic field, Olivia acquired her paternal last name and Joan that of her stepfather. The eldest, with her good-girl appearance, was the first to succeed alongside Errol Flynn and with his naive Melania from gone With the Wind (1939) reached the peak of its popularity. But, despite this resounding success, Alfred Hitckcock chose Joan, until then ignored by all, to star in Rebeca in 1940 and made her a superstar overnight.

Their sudden celebrity sparked Olivia’s jealousy, and the following year their relationship worsened further when they were both nominated for an Oscar for best actress. De Havilland competed for If it didn’t dawn and Joan for Suspicion. Finally, Fontaine picked up the statuette, the only one of his career, something that struck the envious Olivia as a shot.

Joan Fontaine plays Maxim De Winter's second wife in 'Rebecca'

Joan Fontaine junto a Laurence Olivier in ‘Rebeca’

United Artists

When de Havilland won his first Oscar in 1947 – the second would come for The heiress, by William Wyler, along with Montgomery Clift-, Joan rose from her chair to congratulate her, but her spiteful sister passed by ignoring her. Quite a gesture of public humiliation. The rivalry also reached the love ground when Howard Hugues left Olivia to flirt with Joan.

The mother’s illness in 1975 marked a brief lull in the tense fraternal relationship.. However, she passed away while Joan was on a theater tour and Olivia did not break the news to her until after the funeral. It was the final break between the sisters, who stopped talking to each other since then. “He didn’t come to the funeral because he would have something better to do. I did notify her, ”said the first-born.

NEW YORK, NY - 1982: Actress Olivia De Havilland, who plays the Queen Mother, on the set of the television movie 'The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana' in 1982 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images)

Olivia de Havilland played the Queen Mother in the tv movie ‘The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana’ in 1982

Peter Carrette Archive / Getty

“I got married first, I won the Oscar before Olivia and, if I die before her, surely she will be outraged because I have also beaten her in that,” said Joan. He passed away on December 15, 2013 at the age of 96 without reconciling with his sister. De Havilland, who has lived in Paris since 1950 and the last living legend of classic Hollywood, will turn 104 in July.

I got married first, I won the Oscar before Olivia and, if I die before her, surely she will be outraged because I have beaten her in that too “

Joan FontaineActress