by Sam Juliano
Just hours after the world learned of the passing of film icon Peter O’Toole at age 81, yet another legend has expired. One of the most beautiful actresses of the golden era, indeed in film history, 96 year-old Joan Fontaine, whose five decade feud with older sister Olivia de Havilland (incredibly still living at 97) passed away of natural causes Sunday afternoon in California. Some believed Fontaine and her sister would break 100, spurred on in part by their famed animosity, fueled at one time by rivalry and later by family disputes.
Fontaine’s most famous role was the lead in Hitchcock’s Rebecca, a role that cemented her as a beauty queen, and she was also well known in her Oscar winning role in Suspicion opposite Cary Grant in another Hitchcock movie from the 1940′s and in the superb Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948) and as the lead opposite Orson Welles in 1944′s Jane Eyre.
Fontaine’s passing has made this a terrible week for the film industry, after the announcements of the deaths of Peter O’Toole, Eleanor Parker and Audrey Totter.