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"I was appalled that I had won over my sister," admitted Fontaine, after her win for Best Actress for 1941's Suspicion.  Fan magazines and newspapers capitalized on the feuding sisters, and all eyes were on both of them when they were nominated against each other that year for Best Actress.  

While there was definitely no love lost between the two, both readily admit that the supposed feud was more fodder for the tabloids than anything else.  Whatever the case, Fontaine's win over her older sister, put her one up, and the fans were looking to see how Olivia would bounce back from this 'embarrassing upset'.  

 


Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine share a few similarities, particularly in the looks department.  Their doe-like eyes and a seemingly meek disposition connect the two, but the resemblance ends there.  In actual fact, the two sisters couldn't be more different.  

Olivia was the feisty, older sister, unwilling to take anyone's guff.  She made history by taking on her studio, Warner Brothers, when she refused to accept the roles that Jack Warner was thrusting upon her.   After one too many refusals, he suspended her for six months and extended her contract for seven more years.  De Havilland fought back, this time in court, and much to her surprise, she won.  The judge handed down what would go on record as The de Havilland Decision, which gave actors a say in the roles that they played.  The decision would be the first step toward the destruction of the studio system, that would change Hollywood forever. 

Joan, meanwhile, was unwittingly becoming a victim of the very thing that Olivia was rallying against.  After her win for Best Actress, Joan's name meant more money for the studios, but she didn't see a penny of it.  Instead, she played the game and did as she was told, accepting roles as they were offered.  The studio also insisted that she behave like the star that she was, which meant buying expensive property, and living beyond her means.  

The film roles that the women chose seemed to fit their real life traits.  Melanie in Gone With the Wind, seemed sweet and virginal, and was typical role for Olivia to play.  While Melanie takes a lot of guff from Scarlett, she is no wimp, and she holds her own when she has to.  In romance, Olivia's characters are sought after, and she accepts her men for their failings, but she doesn't sacrifice herself in the process.  

Sister Joan, meanwhile, took on roles of meek and mousy women, who were often tormented by the love interest.  It was rumored that Alfred Hitchcock treated Joan like hell, in an effort to bring out the terrified character he was looking for.  Whether she is courting Laurence Olivier in Rebecca, or Cary Grant in Suspicion, the men have a dark mystery about them that sister Olivia might be tempted to simply pass on.  Joan accepts these men, and considers herself to be the inferior one, even in the end when the truth about the men erupts into a violent climax.

Olivia de Havilland found herself nominated for another Oscar in 1946, for her role in the weepy, To Each His Own.  In it, she plays a woman who is reunited with the child that she gave up, after having him out of wedlock.  This time around, she hired the same man that had helped the 1945 Best Actress winner, Joan Crawford, to glory, Henry Rogers.  Three times proved to be the charm for Olivia, as she came up the winner in a very competitive year. 

As was the tradition at the time, former winner, Joan Crawford was scheduled to present the Best Actress Oscar to the 1946 winner, but she backed out at the last minute, feigning stage fright, just as she did when she won for Mildred Pierce.  The Academy found a last minute replacement in the form of that other Joan - Joan Fontaine.  

When Joan called her sister's name, Olivia stepped up to the podium.  Joan extended her hand to congratulate her sister, and in a move that was captured by the press, Olivia snubbed her.  Henry Rogers said later, "The girls haven't spoken to each other for four months.  This goes back for years and years, ever since they were children.  They just don't have a great deal in common."

 

 More

  

Olivia strikes back!
Olivia plays the frumpy, but stoic Josephine Norris.
On New Years Eve, Olivia is reminded of her age, and her faded past. 
She recalls gentler times when she was a shop girl, just prior to the first war. 
Olivia does her part to entertain the troops.
Olivia finds herself alone, and pregnant with a soldier's baby. 
Olivia checks into a hospital and concocts an idea for getting her baby, without bringing out suspicion from the town.
Olivia's plan backfires, and she loses her baby to another couple.
Now, years later, she regrets her error.
 
Olivia makes one last ditch effort at getting her son back.
 
Olivia starts selling hooch in order to raise money for her son.
 
A chance meeting with her young son brings Olivia to tears.
 

Olivia puts the screws to her son's adopted family, in one more nasty attempt at getting him back.

 

Years later, Olivia gets to meet her son once more. 

 

To Each His Own is available on DVD and VHS!

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