Academy Award Winning Sisters: The Lives of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine, Charles River Editors
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Academy Award Winning Sisters: The Lives of Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

Author: Charles River Editors

Narrator: Michelle Humphries

Unabridged: 2 hr 2 min

Format: Digital Audiobook

Publisher: Findaway Voices

Published: 03/05/2023

Genre: Biography & Autobiography - Women


Olivia de Havilland was one of the last living actresses who worked during the Golden Era of Hollywood, but also one of the most decorated, winning dozens of awards over the course of a 50 year career. Among those, she most notably won the Academy Award for Best Actress for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949), more than a decade after she got her start as an 18 year old in Hollywood.

Of course, de Havilland isn’t well remembered for any of those accolades or other movies but because she played Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind (1939), perhaps the most famous movie in American history. Although she was a veteran actress at the time, de Havilland’s career hadn’t progressed much since she started, and rumor has it that she eventually got the role after her own sister, Joan Fontaine, was asked to audition for the part and recommended Olivia instead.

Although Fontaine and de Havilland would make history by becoming the only sisters to both win an Academy Award for Best Actress, that anecdote was just one of the various stories about the siblings that has shed light on their notoriously contentious and complicated relationship. As Fontaine once put it, “I married first, won the Oscar before Olivia did, and if I die first, she'll undoubtedly be livid because I beat her to it!" De Havilland herself once said, "Joan is very bright and sharp and can be cutting."

Meanwhile, Joan Fontaine won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941). She also earned a nomination for her performance in The Constant Nymph (1943), and in a television career that spanned several decades, she earned an Emmy nomination for her work on Ryan’s Hope in 1980, nearly 40 years after winning the Academy Award for Suspicion. Fontaine even appeared on Broadway in a couple of productions that ran for several years. 


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