Sisters, Best Actress Oscar Winners and… Sworn Enemies

In case you missed, New York Post chief film critic Lou Lumenick had a rip-roaring piece over the weekend and intriguing sidebar on Monday about the insane feud going on between a pair of siblings in their mid-nineties.

You may have heard of them. The older sister, 96, was nominated for five Oscars and took home a pair of Best Actress statuettes for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949). The younger one, currently 94, bagged three Academy Award nods in the same decade and won for Suspicion (1941). According to Lumenick, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine have been completely estranged since 1975, with many decades of cold stares preceding their shocking current twilight phase:

At the 1942 Oscars, the sisters went head to head for Best Actress — the first time this ever happened — de Havilland for Hold Back the Dawn, and Fontaine for Suspicion. Fontaine won, and things got really bad.

[In her book] Fontaine recalled: “I froze. I stared across the table, where Olivia was sitting. ‘Get up there!’ she whispered commandingly. All the animus we’d felt toward each other as children . . . all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery . . . I felt Olivia would spring across the table and grab me by the hair.’’

FishbowlLA highly recommends both the Sunday main article and Monday sidebar. The latter features a transcript of a never-aired portion of a 1957 conversation between de Havilland and Hedda Hopper.

[Photo: Jorg Hackermann/]