Joan Fontaine’s 1942 Oscar was so much more than a trophy. Competing head-to-head with her older, more famous sister — “Gone With the Wind” star Olivia de Havilland — it finally was proof the 24-year-old rising actress had exacted the ultimate revenge on her sibling in a fierce rivalry that dated back to childhood.
Here’s a look at their sibling rivalry — and others just as bitter — that have played out well beyond the family dinner table:
Fontaine, who won her Academy Award for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Suspicion,” died Sunday at 96.
For years, she was a struggling B-movie star watching the success of her older sister, who played Maid Marian alongside Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood and Melanie Hamilton in an Oscar-nominated performance in “Gone with the Wind.” But an Oscar eluded de Havilland until 1947, when she won for “To Each His Own.”
Fontaine said she tried to make amends by congratulating de Havilland as she walked off stage. De Havilland snubbed her while holding the trophy, an infamous moment captured by a photographer.
The warring sisters’ fame grew as they made history as the only siblings in Hollywood to win Oscars for a leading role. The two would snipe at each other in public, competing bitterly for the same roles and reportedly even for the same men.
“My sister was born a lion and I a tiger, and in the laws of the jungle, they were never friends,” Fontaine told an interviewer.
The final straw came in 1975, when their mother died. Fontaine criticized de Havilland for not notifying her of the death, while de Havilland countered that Fontaine was too busy to attend the memorial. The two reportedly didn’t speak again. Fontaine once told the Hollywood Reporter “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.”
But in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday, the 97-year-old de Havilland, who lives in Paris, proved her sister wrong, saying she was “shocked and saddened to learn” of her death.