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Hitchcock actress Fontaine dead

Los Angeles, Dec. 16(Reuters): Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine, one of the last of the leading ladies from Hollywood’s Golden Age whose career was marked by a storied and bitter rivalry with her older sister, Olivia de Havilland, died yesterday at age 96.

Fontaine died in her sleep yesterday morning at her home in Carmel, California which overlooked the Pacific Ocean, after having been in failing health in recent days, said Noel Beutel, a longtime friend of the actress. “She was an amazing woman, she had such a big heart and she will be missed,” Beutel said, adding that she had had lunch with the actress just last week.

Among Fontaine’s most memorable films in a Hollywood career spanning four decades and some four dozen films was the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Suspicion, co-starring Cary Grant, for which she won an Academy Award in 1942, beating out her sister in the competition.

The honour gave Fontaine the distinction of being the only performer, actor or actress, ever to win an Academy Award for a starring role in one of Hitchcock’s many movies.

De Havilland, who was nominated that year for Hold Back the Dawn, went on to win two Oscars of her own for leading roles in the 1946 film To Each His Own and the 1949 picture The Heiress. Now aged 97, de Havilland resides in Paris.

Her Oscar victories established the feuding sisters as the only two siblings ever to both win Academy Awards for acting.

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