The great Joan Fontaine dies at age 96…


I’ve just learned of Joan Fontaine’s passing. 96 sounds like a full life, yet I’m left with the sense that something profoundly somber has happened. First losing Eleanor Parker, and now with Joan Fontaine, one of the truly great actresses of the golden age has left us. It feels like something beautiful has slipped away.

I’ve been spending some of my time watching retro television’s incredibly evocative anthology mystery series The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Just a few days ago, I was knocked out by a performance Joan Fontaine gave as Alice Pemberton in the 1963 episode called ‘The Paragon’. Starring opposite Gary Merrill.

Fontaine gave a striking performance as a narcissist who alienates everyone around her with her hurtful though helpful barbs and controlling nature. And yet as overbearing & insufferable as Alice was… she has a childlike innocence that made me feel sympathetic. That’s the measure of her acting skill.

Joan Fontaine as Alice Pemberton in Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s The Paragon 1963


I had planned on doing a few Alfred Hitchcock episodes featured here at The Last Drive In and highlight this particular episode because I was so astonished by this obscure role. When we think of Ms Fontaine we naturally think of her in as the tortured gentlewoman in either Jane Eyre 1943, Rebecca 1940 or Suspicion. Alice Pemberton should be among the list of her accomplishments. After watching her in this role, it reminded me of why she’s one of my favorite actresses of all time….


joan fontaine & judith anderson - rebecca 1940

Fontaine, Joan (Jane Eyre)_01

I was deeply saddened by the lost of Eleanor Parker recently and now I’m feeling utterly teary that some of the greatest legends of cinema are gone.

We’ll miss you Ms Fontaine. You’re independent streak, an inimitable beauty, your sophistication and the immense contribution to film and television you’ve made.

Annex - Fontaine, Joan_01
Joan Fontaine courtesy of Doctor Macro

With much love and remembrances MonsterGirl

4 thoughts on “The great Joan Fontaine dies at age 96…

  1. Joey, my friend, thanks for this lovely tribute to the late, great Joan Fontaine. I had first noticed her in Hitchcock’s REBECCA and SUSPICION, but I was also impressed with her bad-girl roles, too, including BORN TO BE BAD. Sheesh, what’s with Fontaine, Eleanor Parker, and so many classic film stars leaving this world all at once? Do they have a big party to go to in Heaven? God bless these remarkable women for their wonderful work and longevity!

    1. Dor-I’m so truly sad about Joan Fontaine. She was wonderful as the sociopath in BORN TO BE BAD. Such a departure from her usual role. Maybe they are all having a celebration in Heaven. It’s such a lovely thought. These women were remarkable. No one quite like them either. Wishing them the best on their journey…

  2. A thoughtful and loving tribute to Joan F., Joey. Very nicely done.

    The world feels a little different now, doesn’t it, after the departure of so many talented actors in the past couple of weeks…

Leave a Reply