Wednesday Part One: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

cb728c19bd6c4b4b294b4666f5435edeGood Morning

What a sad month this has been…we lost such legendary,  tremendous actors and actresses. Yes, in a matter of hours, it seemed like the news hit us, one after another…as we lost…

Film Noir Star Audrey Totter Dies at 95

‘Billy Jack’ Star Tom Laughlin Dies at 82

‘Lawrence of Arabia’s’ Peter O’Toole Dead at 81

Legendary Actress Joan Fontaine Dies at 96

After losing Eleanor Parker last week, I have to admit the post I wrote with all those beautiful pictures was an enjoyable tribute to her, partly because I felt a strange connection to her. The passing of Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine are again personal to me…so it seems fitting to me that I will focus today’s post on two of the four actors above that passed away within the past few days.

Well…ladies first?

All the photos on this post will be of  Joan Fontaine…images that I have found or collected along the way via Pinterest or Google.

5d8f10a88f9d944adfa63958a1f9932c

Legendary Actress Joan Fontaine Dies at 96 – The Hollywood Reporter

The star of the Hitchcock classics “Suspicion” and “Rebecca” famously won an Oscar in 1942 over her bitter rival — her older sister, Olivia de Havilland.

Joan Fontaine, the polished actress who achieved stardom in the early 1940s with memorable performances in the Alfred Hitchcock films Suspicion — for which she earned the best actress Oscar over her bitter rival, sister Olivia de Havilland — and Rebecca, has died. She was 96.

Joan Fontaine, 24

The Hollywood Reporter awards analyst Scott Feinberg spoke with Fontaine’s assistant, Susan Pfeiffer, who confirmed the actress’ death of natural causes Sunday at her home in Carmel, Calif.

I think because news of Fontaine’s death came on the heels of the announcement of the loss of Peter O’Toole, she did not get the kind of press “notice” she deserved.

6814af3099c20fbfab7c0d9e6872ec37It was Hitchcock, with his penchant for “cool blondes,” who brought Fontaine to the forefront when he cast her as the second Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca (1940), the director’s American debut. Her performance as the new wife of Laurence Olivier in a household haunted by the death of his first wife earned her an Academy Award nomination for best actress.Joan-Fontaine-in-the-50s-001

A year later, Hitchcock placed her opposite Cary Grant in Suspicion, and she won the Oscar for her turn as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth, a shy English woman who begins to suspect her charming new husband of trying to kill her. She thus became the only actor to win an Oscar in a Hitchcock film.

Among those Fontaine beat out at the 1942 Academy Awards was her older sister, de Havilland, up for Hold Back the Dawn (1941). Biographer Charles Higham wrote that as Fontaine came forward to accept her trophy, she rejected de Havilland’s attempt to congratulate her and that de Havilland was offended. (There may have been another similar incident after de Havilland won her first Oscar for To Each His Own in 1947.) The sisters, who never really got along since childhood, finally stopped speaking to each other in the mid-’70s.

More on that rivalry in a bit…for now just a few more Obits for Fontaine:

Joan Fontaine, star of ‘Suspicion’ and ‘Rebecca,’ dies at 96 – LA Times

d8b0ec1d44deea5d7d02f18bc9a6abe2She gave her Oscar-winning performance as the threatened wife in “Suspicion,” opposite Cary Grant, in 1941, the same year for which De Havilland was nominated for “Hold Back the Dawn” — a head-to-head sibling competition that had the Hollywood press buzzing.

“Now what had I done!” Fontaine wrote in her 1978 autobiography, “No Bed of Roses,” of her reaction at the awards ceremony when Fontaine’s name was announced. “All the animus we’d felt toward each other as children, the hair-pullings, the savage wrestling matches, the time Olivia tried to fracture my collarbone, all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery.”

fb87939a0362db8db7c8a563d44e486cCareer totals for the sisters would be: Fontaine, three Oscar nominations and one win; De Havilland, five nominations and two wins. De Havilland, partly because of her role as Melanie in 1939’s classic “Gone With the Wind,” would be the one with the more enduring film legacy.

[…]

“My sister was born a lion, and I a tiger, and in the laws of the jungle, they were never friends.”

[…]

Fontaine spent several years doing B movies and minor roles before one night, sitting at dinner next to producer David O. Selznick, she conversed with him about the book she had just read, Daphne du Maurier’s romance “Rebecca.”

12c81a61ac5ad676f0b65e6ce0021c0fSelznick eyed the young actress and said, “I bought it today. Will you test for it?”

“Would I!” Fontaine replied.

Fontaine was pitted against such stars of the era as Vivien Leigh, Susan Hayward, Virginia Mayo, Margaret Sullavan, Anne Baxter and Loretta Young. But the casting process was so protracted that by the time Fontaine got the part, she was thoroughly demoralized. This suited Hitchcock in preparing her for her role as “the second Mrs. de Winter.”

63a25183f10616bec07b093c9e0ee1d3“Hitchcock built up his power over Fontaine while keeping her nervous and vulnerable enough to enhance the nervous, vulnerable character she was playing,” Patrick McGilligan wrote of Hitchcock in his 2003 biography of the director.

Fontaine was further humiliated when her costar, Laurence Olivier, treated her with disdain, in part because he was angry that Leigh, his then-fiancee and later wife, had not gotten the role.

“Hitch said that Larry had just come to him, saying Fontaine was awful and that Vivien was the only one who should play opposite him,” Fontaine wrote in “No Bed of Roses.” “I could hardly be friends with [him] after that.”

ccdf29fa56c719de6da91f7c797ee023Fontaine played the part perfectly. As the reference to a review in this obituary from HuffPo states: Joan Fontaine Dead: Academy Award-Winning Actress Dies At 96

“Miss Du Maurier never really convinced me any one could behave quite as the second Mrs. de Winter behaved and still be sweet, modest, attractive and alive,” The New York Times’ Frank Nugent wrote upon the film’s release.

“But Miss Fontaine does it not simply with her eyes, her mouth, her hands and her words, but with her spine. Possibly it’s unethical to criticize performances anatomically. Still we insist Miss Fontaine has the most expressive spine — and shoulders we’ve bothered to notice this season.”

7313d6ceddda193d6079a099aba7311bThat has to be one of the best descriptions of her performance…because if you watch her, it is so true…she does speak with her shoulders.

You can see it when you watch her in Jane Eyre, I think the film she stars in with Orson Welles is the best movie production even made. Maybe it is the film itself, the look of the black and white and the master cinematography by George Barnes…(who won an Oscar for his work on Rebecca.)

338834.1

I don’t know, as with Eleanor Parker, Joan Fontaine got me interesting in reading the classics. So those expressive shoulders have carried so much more of my childhood imaginations and dreams…they led me into a world of books and words.

d2a9f7b9a10f92cc6c0297c9db11863f

But, back to the LA Times obit:

08b5094917eb9432a47b8ecf4ef3d0e8Her next role was also for Hitchcock, in “Suspicion,” playing the frightened wife of Cary Grant whom she suspects of trying to kill her. The film was given a Hollywood ending — her suspicions turn out to be a misunderstanding — because the filmmakers believed that Grant’s fans would not accept him as a murderer, as originally written. But Grant was quoted as saying that the casting was perfect because “anyone who knows me realizes that I couldn’t be married to Joan Fontaine for more than 24 hours without wanting to wring her neck.”

The book this film is based on originally ends when Fontaine’s character finds out she is pregnant…and realizing she is married to a murderer, she drinks the poisoned milk…killing herself and her baby, rather than to bring this murderer’s child into the world.

845725cd13a161af1159c787441c3e55Film historian David Thomson wrote that after her Oscar, Fontaine “went after stately, romantic parts, lacking the real emotional sophistication of a Lombard or a Loy, and entered into weepies without the conviction of a Joan Crawford.”

Joan Fontaine

In Hitchcock’s movies and later in Max Ophuls’ “Letter From an Unknown Woman,” Thomson said, she “was so good as to leave us baffled by her general indifference.”

Her last lead film performance was in “The Devil’s Own” (1966), in which the actress, who was nearing 50, became the latest aging star consigned to making a horror movie, joining contemporaries such as her sister and Bette Davis.

From the HuffPo link above, Fontaine is quoted as saying:

54f50bc12c7d9e40da79d43dc697f7ca

“You know, I’ve had a helluva life,” Fontaine once said. “Not just the acting part. I’ve flown in an international balloon race. I’ve piloted my own plane. I’ve ridden to the hounds. I’ve done a lot of exciting things.”

Now, about that sisterly rivalry…Joan Fontaine-Olivia de Havilland Feud: New Details Revealed

Joan Fontaine Olivia de Haviland - H 2013
Getty Images
Joan Fontaine, left, and Olivia de Havilland

At a luncheon earlier this month, I was seated beside the actresses Laura Dern and Meg Ryan and we began chatting about classic movies, a shared passion of ours. Eventually, the conversation led us to Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine, the legendary Oscar-winning sisters. Within the last nine months I had interviewed both of the nonagenarians for a book that I am writing about old movies for young people; I spoke with Joan, who was living in Carmel, by telephone in March, and Olivia in-person at her home in Paris after the Cannes Film Festival wrapped up in May. Laura and Meg were anxious to know the answer to the same question that every person with whom I spoke after those interviews had asked me: Was “the feud” — a supposed decades-long cold war between the two sisters — finally over?

The answer was not so simple.

7f3cb3273c3d8abd765526302e07d030If that does not make you go and click the link to read the rest…I don’t know what the hell will!!!!

TCM will be showing Joan Fontaine films on December 29th:

TCM Remembers Joan Fontaine (1917 – 2013)

Born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland in Tokyo, Japan on Oct. 22, 1917, she was the daughter of British patent attorney Walter de Havilland and Lillian Augusta Ruse, a former stage actress; as both she and her father would often recount, the family counted two English kings in their lineage. Plagued by illness as a child, including bouts with anemia and measles, Fontaine was sent with her sister and mother to live in Saratoga, CA, while her father remained in Japan. Her parents’ marriage was already in trouble prior to the move to the States, and the separation preceded a divorce, which became final when Fontaine was two. Academic tests proved Joan to be an exceptionally bright child with an IQ of 160, and she excelled at school. Home life, however, was a different story; she had an uneasy relationship with de Havilland, who was reportedly favored by her mother. The feud eventually became the stuff of Hollywood legend, and by all accounts, was alive and well when both sisters had entered their ninth decades.

Now, we turn to Peter O’Toole…and since this post has taken longer than I expected it to…Peter will be in Wednesday Reads Part Two: What shall we hang…the holly, or each other?  a little later today.

Quickly a few headlines:

Mega Millions: Winners in California, Georgia to split jackpot – latimes.com

Bipartisan Budget Agreement Nears Final Passage – ABC News

Egypt’s Ousted President Mohammed Morsi To Be Tried Over Conspiracy With Foreigners

And one last thing…I was very busy yesterday, in fact I did not get online at all until early this morning when I started to write this post…Is this shit for real? CNN Art Critic Calls Zimmerman Painting ‘Psychotic,’ Compares Him with Manson and Gacy | Mediaite

Neighborhood watchman-turned-painter George Zimmerman is headed for a big payday, but instead of being the toast of the art world, he’s getting roasted over his initial effort, a flag-themed homage to Picasso, stock photography, and concrete poetry. On CNN’s New Day Wednesday morning, host Chris Cuomo tapped the expertise of New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz, who blasted Zimmerman’s effort, and was beside himself at the thought that the “travesty” puts Zimmerman in the price range of artists like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Bidding on Zimmerman’s painting now stands at $110,100.00 on eBay, despite the revelation that the piece, entitled “America,” is a derivation of an arguably superior work: “American Flag” by Shutterstock.

Oh my fucking gawd! Are you kidding me?

Zimmerman’s painting is a multi-layered homage/commentary on 20th century art. He cleverly inverts the artistic conceit of Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” instead taking a meaningful symbol of American culture and turning it into a cheap object of commerce. Zimmerman also pays subtle homage to Picasso’s Blue Period, which was inspired by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. It might also be a dig at the paltry selection at his local Michael’s craft store. Finally, Zimmerman’s placement of the words “one nation” physically beneath the word “God” is a clear reference to the grade-school pictograms of Salvador Dali, particularly his famousMan Overboard.”

Cuomo brought Saltz in to explain “How can someone like this, assuming you believe the worst about George Zimmerman, how could someone ever want art from someone like this?”

“Mass murderers have made art, and people have tried to buy it, have bought it, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy,” Saltz noted, adding that “In my humble opinion, this person got away with a crime and in that sense, that is the only reason that anybody would want to buy anything that he made.”

“What have we seen in terms of why, what is the fascination?” Cuomo asked. “What is the desire to buy the artwork of someone who’s been connected to, or convicted for, a horrible crime?”

That’s when Saltz delivered his blistering critique, telling Cuomo that Zimmerman’s painting is “a travesty, a placard, a poster, something you might see in protest,” but also opining that “It’s a bit of confession to me.”

“It’s talking about liberty, justice for all,” Saltz continued, marking up the painting with a telestrator. “Well, you know, it’s almost like none of this ever happened. And then also, you have this is his funny little — he’s almost trying to be a cause. And the cause is that I think he is is a travesty of justice, a crime. It’s insipid, it’s not — there’s no thought in it. It’s needing to be the center of attention. I think it’s a bit psychotic.”

Saltz also noted the similarities to the Shutterstock photo, and added that Zimmerman “Just needs attention. It’s just the beginning. This guy is, I think, a kind of person heading for a fall.”

Uh, you don’t need to be some expert art critic to come to that conclusion there…this guy is living out some kind of Mike Judge satire, but it is real life, and that is the horror of this story.

Treat this as an Open Thread…


38 Comments on “Wednesday Part One: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

  1. Sorry I’m runny late. Been so busy…this time of year is a bitch!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks, JJ. I was hoping you’d do a post on Joan Fontaine. I absolutely loved her in Suspicion and Rebecca. She was so good a projecting vulnerability and anxiety.

  3. ANonOMouse says:

    Fontaine was one of my favorites too. As you noted we’ve had a cluster of losses in the Star class the past few days, but they lived long and productive lives, what more could a person ask for?

    FYI…..On the subject of the “Star Class” it looks like one of the Duck Dynasty stars cut his own duck off to spite his face. What a homophobic dumb ass.

    http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/tv-news/-duck-dynasty–star-s-anti-gay-remarks-spark-outrage-134231650.html

    • bostonboomer says:

      I agree. I can’t really be that sad when someone dies at 96. It’s important to take note of their passing and celebrate their accomplishments. We lost quite a few wonderfully creative people this year, and many were in their 80s and 90s.

      • Oh yeah, I understand that these people lived into their 80s and 90s…and we must celebrate their full life, but I do feel sad. It is the loss of that living connection to the past that hits at me personally. In the case of Joan Fontaine, it is her place in film history…as far as classic movies and the era of Golden Hollywood are concerned. When her sister Olivia dies, it will be that loss of the one living connection with the film Gone with the Wind…something that, for people who love film, has such significance. As the lights go out on these living legends, a little more distance grows between us and those fabulous old movies. It does make me sad indeed.

    • RalphB says:

      He has put a lot of thought into this anus versus vagina quandary…tells you where his head is most of the time. Seriously, that much ignorance in one place should not be ignored and that dynasty needs to come to a swift and vainglorious end!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Thanks ralph…..you said it much better than I ever could have

        • RalphB says:

          Society shouldn’t put up with hate speech anymore. I think we’ve had too much already,

          • Fannie says:

            Just today republican Erick Bennett of Maine slammed democrat Mike Michaud for coming out last month. And I am reminded that Martin Bashir was fired from his job for slamming Sarah Palin……………….our children are learning how it’s done, and bringing a gun to school too. We need to stop it, and Erick deserves to be fired.

            It is too much Ralph.

  4. dakinikat says:

    The modern GOP’s fundamentalist godfather
    How Billy Graham paved the way for the rise of the Christian Right

    http://www.salon.com/2013/12/18/the_modern_gops_fundamentalist_godfather_partner/

    Millennials can be forgiven for mistakenly thinking the Christian Right has been the main strain of the GOP since ad infinitum. It hasn’t. The Christian Right is still a relatively new dynamic on the American political landscape. Prior to the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, no serious presidential candidate ever claimed to have been “born again,” and the emphasis of faith for a politician seeking high office was as rare then as a candidate declaring his atheism is today.

    But something weird happened on the way to the forum. Religious fundamentalists banded together to oppose Jimmy Carter’s 1980 reelection campaign (Carter was a Southern Baptist), and in turn, put their support behind Ronald Reagan, who was a divorced Hollywood actor. This strange coalition on the right became a movement better known as the Moral Majority, and Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell were the tip of the sword.

    Interesting article. Talks about how evangelism became linked with business interests and the fuck the poor attitudes

    • I am so sick of the “business interest” bullies: CEO Pulls Bogus Stunt In Attempt To Discredit Walmart Workers

      Walmart usually speaks for itself just fine. But that hasn’t stopped a wealthy Wall Streeter from taking up its cause, protesting against higher wages for Walmart workers.

      Peter Schiff, the wealthy, libertarian CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Inc., a Connecticut brokerage firm, recently passed some time berating shoppers outside an unnamed Walmart, as you can see in the video above, which Schiff released on Monday. Pretending to act on behalf of Walmart workers asking for higher wages, Schiff asked shoppers to fork over 15 percent of whatever they had just spent at Walmart in support of a $15 minimum wage for Walmart workers. He even created a fake name for the group he pretended to support, “15 for 15.”

      Schiff’s real motive apparently was to convince these shoppers that paying higher wages to Walmart workers — an idea many of these shoppers supported — would drive up the prices at Walmart by 15 percent. Walmart workers on Black Friday staged protests around the country seeking higher wages, though not necessarily $15 an hour. One actual pro-worker group, OUR Walmart, is seeking a $13 minimum wage for Walmart workers.

      In any event, Schiff’s claim that prices would have to rise 15 percent to cover a $15 wage still doesn’t exactly line up with, how do you say, economics.

      A 2011 study by CUNY’s Stephanie Luce and University of California Berkeley’s Ken Jacobs and Dave Graham-Squire found that raising the retail giant’s minimum wage to $12 would have cost the average shopper only 46 cents per trip.

      • How Walmart’s Low Wages Cost All Americans, Not Just Its Workers

        Bloomberg View: Yesterday, we looked at the benefit to McDonald’s of having its workers subsidized by state and federal aid. Today, its Wal-Mart’s turn. Recall our discussion last month on the related subject of “How McDonald’s and Wal-Mart Became Welfare Queens.” We learned that employees of these two companies are often the largest recipients of aid in their states.

      • RalphB says:

        That asshole’s father Irwin is almost the original “tax protestor” and is in Federal Prison for quite a few crimes related to that. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

    • RalphB says:

      When it comes right down to it, those evangelists are a bunch of creepy, money grubbing assholes and seem to be pretty much all alike to me. They’re just lower grade L. Ron Hubbard style con men.

    • Fannie says:

      I can’t help but think of the movie, The Mist………….and Mrs. Carrrmody, the religious nut who drives everybody crazy.

      Being from the south, you can bet many family members was on track with Billy Graham, from the big crusade tents, to his campaigns across this nation and across the globe. Many of them did not vote for John F. Kennedy because Billy’s campaign was against the catholic church, and the mixing of races. There was a photo of both JFK and Billy, and it was treated like a gold brick. I can’t forget him endorsing Mitt, and then cleaning his website of his reference to “Mormon cults”……….. When he campaigned he had audiences from 20,000 to 50,000 and more. Not to mention all the movies, Oil Town USA, Shadow of the Boomerang, and Jerusalem…………..he was “God Ambssador”. He would travel, and come back and train all the preachers about “communism” and next thing you know, every Baptist church in the country had the same message regarding communism. Pretty much like they have on same sex marriages, abortion , etc. The pastors have been trained well.

      Nixon was a quaker, and he wasn’t religious, well not in sense of following doctrine,and worshipping. He definitely opened a church in WH and had Billy as the Pastor, but it was private, and I read that he attended once month, if that.

      I wonder if the Mormon church has more money than the Baptist………they are buying up land, and building one church after the other now.

      And yes, it is fuck the poor.

  5. dakinikat says:

    and more from the “you will know them by their love” set …

    Tea Party Patriot arrested for swapping child porn using ‘h*rnypastor’ email account

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/18/tea-party-patriot-arrested-for-swapping-child-pron-using-pastor-email-account/

    Bryan Fischer: Duck Dynasty star is an ‘American hero’ for anti-LGBT ‘anus’ remarks

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/18/bryan-fischer-duck-dynasty-star-is-an-american-hero-for-anti-lgbt-anus-remarks/

  6. RalphB says:

    I guess John Podesta won’t be in charge of GOP outreach. He calls the GOP House caucus a “cult worthy of Jonestown.” :-)

  7. RalphB says:

    An across the board Democratic sweep of statewide offices that lets you know how bad Virginia is gerrymandered.

    GOPer Obenshain Concedes Virginia Attorney General Race

    More than six weeks after Election Day, Virginia State Sen. Mark Obenshain (R) finally conceded the Virginia attorney general race on Wednesday, as the recount he sought failed to close his gap against state Sen. Mark Herring (D).

    “As we near the conclusion of the recount I’m confident that the final total of the recount is going to show Mark Herring ahead,” Obenshain said Wednesday at a press conference.

    Obenshain added that the attorney general race is “over.” He said he called Herring earlier in the day to concede the race. …

  8. dakinikat says:

    From Digby

    Representative Jack Kingston wants to teach those poor children a lesson in the way the world works:

    “One of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch.”

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2013/12/why-not-poor-houses-and-orphanages-it.html

  9. RalphB says:

    WTF? Talk about flushing your cover down the toilet.

    American Prospect: NYT Mag Offers Inexplicable 2006 John McCain Cover Profile in 2013

    In the last couple of years, every time something John McCain says makes “news,” my immediate reaction—sometimes on Twitter, sometimes just in my head—is, “Remind me again why anybody should give a crap what John McCain thinks about anything?” I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory answer to this question. And here comes star reporter Mark Leibovich, author of the well-received This Town, with a 6,634-word cover profile of McCain for next week’s New York Times Magazine. Do we need another one of these? I would have answered “no” before reading, but after, I’m even more sure. …