Joan Fontaine may not be as well remembered today as she aught to be, but on Sunday, 15 December, the world lost one of its finest female actresses when the three-time Oscar nominee passed away at her home in Carmel, California. One of the 1940's most fondly held stars, Fontaine died in her home due to natural reasons, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed, at the age of 96.

The Women
Fontaine (R) appears in The Women

Fontaine's death was confirmed by her assistant, Susan Pfeiffer, to THR soon after the screen veteran had passed on, confirming that Fontaine had died of old age. Although her career lasted until the mid-1990's, with her last credit coming for the TV movie Good King Wenceslas in 1994, it is her career in the 1940's that will ensure Fontaine's name continues to live on.

In that decade she scored three Best Actress nominations at the Academy Awards, winning one for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Suspicion in 1942. She fitted in to Alfred Hitchcock's "cool blonde" requirement with ease and appeared in his first two American movies, Rebecca and Suspicion. Winning an Oscar nomination for each, her win for Suspicion made Fontaine the only actor to win an Academy Award for an Alfred Hitchcock movie. She was nominated again in 1944 for her role in The Constant Nymph.

Her win in 1942 was particularly noteworthy as it marked her triumph over her lifelong rival Olivia de Havilland, who was also her older sister. The two siblings were never the closest and struggled to get along during childhood, eventually severing all ties with one another in the mid-70's. The two-time Oscar winner De Havilland is currently living in Paris, aged 97. Their feud was detailed in Fontaine's autobiography, No Bed of Roses, published in 1978.

Fontaine is survived by her elder sister and her two daughters, Deborah Leslie, born to her second husband William Dozier, and the adopted Martita, who she adopted from Peru, but later became estranged from when Martita refused to visit her parents in the South American country. Our thoughts are with those who knew her.