Olivia de Havilland & Joan Fontaine, both in their 90s, are still pissed at each other


You just have got to love Old Hollywood. Those bitches knew how to fight, how to screw, how to hold a grudge, how to be a diva, how to cover up a pregnancy, how to have an affair, how to break up a marriage, and how to do it all in style. Glamour! Anyway, I hope everyone knows who Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland are. Joan, 92, starred in films like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, Jane Eyre (with Olivier) and Ivanhoe. Olivia, 94, was in films like Gone With the Wind (she was Melanie) and The Heiress, for which she won her second Oscar. Olivia and Joan are sisters, and they f-cking hate each other. They’ve been pissed at each other for literally more than half a century, and their Bitch Fight just got a new chapter when Joan refused to come to Paris for the ceremony awarding Olivia the Légion d’honneur. The Daily Mail has an epic story about their historic bitch fight, and some of the Old Hollywood gossip is just priceless:

Last Thursday, amid the formal splendour of the Élysée Palace in Paris, President Nicolas Sarkozy conferred France’s most prestigious accolade, the Légion d’honneur, on a little, silver-haired lady, aged 94, with sparkling brown eyes and an impishly familiar smile. That bewitching smile and those amazing eyes once made Olivia de Havilland the queen of Hollywood and the winner of two Oscars. Today, she is the last surviving star of the most famous epic film ever brought to the screen, Gone With the Wind. Her daughter Gisele, and other members of her family, were at the Élysée to watch Miss de Havilland, a resident of Paris for almost 60 years, honoured.

But one member of her immediate family — and the one who has known her longer and better than anyone in this world — her only sibling, Joan Fontaine, 92, herself an Oscar-winner of equally illustrious status as a legend of stage and screen, was conspicuous by her absence from the ceremony.

When the President placed the blood-red ribbon and star of the Légion d’honneur around Olivia’s neck, Joan was 6,000 miles away at her home in Carmel, California, studiously ignoring the occasion — just as she has ignored every aspect of her sister’s existence for decades.

These two formidable grandes dames of the screen have been at loggerheads for most of their lives. Both frankly confess that, even as children, they detested one another. At times, they were in competition for the same men. One was the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Sometimes they fought for the same leading roles. In the case of Gone With The Wind, it was Olivia who won the role of Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, and Joan who did not. But when it came to Alfred Hitchcock’s screen version of Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca, it was Joan who beat her sister to the coveted role of the second Mrs de Winter. They were even once in contention for the same Best actress Oscar in 1942 — Joan won. Olivia lost.

Yet the cause of their estrangement goes far beyond professional sibling-rivalry. Its real roots lie in festering family jealousy and in the desperate battle waged by both women for the love of their mother, Lilian — who switched her affection bewilderingly from one sister to the other for more than half a century. Olivia and Joan have not spoken a word to one another for more than 35 years. It seems unlikely that they will ever meet or speak to each other again. It has become Hollywood’s most bitter and longest-running feud, a source of distress to both their families, and of embarrassment and dismay to their friends and colleagues.

Olivia Mary de Havilland and Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, both born in Tokyo — Olivia on July 1, 1916, and Joan on October 22, 1917 — are the daughters of English parents. Joan, who was born only one year and three months after her only sibling, said that Olivia ‘was still too young to accept the arrival of a competitor for the affections of her parents and adoring staff. Her horoscope suggests that Olivia would have fared better as an only child. She has always been a stout believer in the rule of primogeniture’.

The sisters’ father, Walter de Havilland, a parson’s son born in Lewisham, South-East London, and raised in Guernsey, was a patent lawyer in Tokyo, where his use of the sexual services of geisha girls in the Yoshiwara red-light district caused their mother, Lilian Ruse, from Reading, to divorce him in 1919. On account of Joan being a rather sickly child, Lilian and her daughters relocated to California, where she married again to a department store manager George Fontaine, a stern disciplinarian who was disliked by both his new stepdaughters, who weren’t any fonder of one another.

Olivia, as the editor of a school magazine, set a competition for the best last will and testament of her fellow pupils. She won her own competition with the words: ‘I bequeath to my sister the ability to win boys’ hearts, which she does not have at present’.

Joan, for her part, was to record: ‘I regret that I remember not one act of kindness from her all through my childhood.’ She recalled how, in July 1933, when she was 15, ‘Olivia threw me down on the poolside flagstone border, jumped on top of me, and fractured my collarbone’.

When Olivia’s Hollywood career took off, Joan, it is alleged, developed ‘a Cinderella complex’ and saw herself as ‘a servant’. Small wonder, given that their mother forced Joan to change her name to Fontaine, to avoid trading on Olivia’s fame, and forbade her to accept a contract with Warner Bros, ‘because that is Olivia’s studio’.

As the two girls grew into desirable young women, their rivalry grew fiercer as they competed for suitors. Errol Flynn, Olivia’s co-star in a series of thirties swashbucklers, was sure she was infatuated with him – although she continues to insist that nothing happened between them. Even so, Joan was caustic about her sister’s devotion to Flynn. In the words of their biographer Charles Higham: ‘She saw through Flynn and realised that he was worthless. She had no respect for Olivia in the matter and made her feelings known.’

For her part, Joan was the first to get married — to the handsome and popular British movie star Brian Aherne. Once again, though, the occasion precipitated a new development in the sisterly rivalry. The night before the wedding, Olivia’s boyfriend — billionaire Howard Hughes — danced with the bride-to-be Joan and tried to talk her out of the marriage, saying he wanted to marry her himself. Joan, shocked by his duplicity, told Olivia, with inevitable consequences for their own relationship.

But it was in their professional lives that their mistrust reached a crescendo. Joan, keen to win the role of Melanie in Gone With The Wind, was considered ‘too chic! Melanie must be a plain southern girl’.

‘What about my sister?’ said Joan, a query that directly led to Olivia gaining the role, an indebtedness to Joan she would come to resent. Olivia, for her part, had been angling for the role of the second Mrs de Winter in Rebecca, but the director Alfred Hitchcock chose Joan instead. Both sisters were Oscar-nominated, Olivia for Gone With The Wind, Joan for Rebecca.

Neither won. In 1942, however, both found themselves in competition for the Best Actress Oscar, Joan for Suspicion, Olivia for Hold Back The Dawn. Joan was announced as the winner.

She later said: ‘I froze. I stared across the table, where Olivia was sitting. “Get up there!” she whispered commandingly. Now what had I done? All the animus we’d felt towards each other as children, the savage wrestling matches, the time Olivia fractured my collarbone, all came rushing back in kaleidoscopic imagery. My paralysis was total. I felt Olivia would spring across the table and grab me by the hair. I felt four, being confronted by my older sister. Damn it, I’d incurred her wrath again!’

On her part, Olivia thought: ‘“I’ve lost prestige with my sister,” and it was true. She was haughty to me after that.’

In 1946, the tables were turned when it was Olivia who won the Oscar for To Each His Own. Joan recalled: ‘After Olivia delivered her speech and entered the wings, I went over to congratulate her as I would have done to any winner. She took one look at me, ignored my hand, clutched her Oscar and wheeled away.’

Occasionally, a rare truce was called. In 1961, the sisters even spent Christmas together at Joan’s New York apartment. Would the reunion be repeated? Joan thought ‘there would be a slight problem of temperament. In fact, it would be bigger than Hiroshima.’

Even long after their careers had peaked, the rivalry and petty resentments continued. In 1969, the wealthy Joan received a call for help from Olivia, now divorced and living in Paris as the wife of Paris Match editor Pierre Galante. Joan discovered Olivia ill in bed, complaining ‘she was in both financial and marital difficulties and finding her current bills impossible to pay. I then left a sizable cheque, which she was soon able to repay. She signed with my lecture bureau and eventually had so many bookings that I had to find a new bureau to handle mine’.

But the final break between the sisters came in February 1975, when their mother died from cancer. ‘I was not invited to her memorial service,’ alleged Joan. ‘Only after burning the telephone wires from coast to coast’ — and threatening to ‘call the Press and give them the whole story’ — was the service postponed and Joan and her daughter Debbie permitted to attend. At the service, the sisters didn’t speak to each other. Olivia ‘scattered a handful of ashes, then silently passed the container to me. Thus I said goodbye to my mother. As for Olivia, I had no words at all.’

Olivia’s daughter, Gisele, and her son, Benjamin, were remembered ‘generously’ in Lilian’s will. But ‘not even a trinket’ was left to Joan’s daughter, Deborah. Three years later, the publication of Joan’s autobiography, No Bed Of Roses — mischievously re-titled by the second of her four husbands, film producer William Dozier, as No Word Of Truth — hardened the estrangement beyond recovery. It presented a venal portrait of Olivia, who was said to regard the book as ‘poisonous’. At the 50th anniversary of the Oscars in 1979, Olivia and Joan had to be seated at opposite ends of the stage. Outside, in the corridor, the sisters passed each other without a glance. Ten years later, at the 60th anniversary of the Oscars, they found themselves booked into adjacent hotel rooms in Beverly Hills. Joan had her room changed. Joan, four times married and divorced, lives with her five dogs at her home in California. Olivia, twice divorced, lives in a Parisian townhouse. Interviewed there this year, she referred to Joan only as ‘my sibling’. Asked if they would ever be reconciled, she hesitated. ‘Better not,’ she said, smiling through gritted teeth, ‘Better not.’

[From The Daily Mail]

I mean… come on. This is awesome. Stalking Errol Flynn? Excellent. Bad-mouthing your sister to directors? Awesome. Getting nominated for Oscars in the same years? Wonderful. And they still really, really hate each other. Bless them. Just because they’re related by blood doesn’t mean they have to best friends – although not speaking to each other for 35 years does seem rather immature. But I love that they’re both still alive and both are still filled with hate – their hatred and completive spirits is probably what’s keeping them alive, honestly.

And honestly, I was always a bigger fan of Joan. She’s the better actress. In the photo below, Olivia is the one of the left and Joan is on the right. Dorothy Lamour separates them.

(Left to right) Japan-born British actress Olivia de Havilland, American actress Dorothy Lamour (1914 - 1996), and de Havilland's sister Japan-born British actress Joan Fontaine, sit and pose for a photograph, 1940s. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)

circa 1939:  Promotional studio portrait of American actor Olivia de Havilland, standing in front of a window in a promotional portrait for 'Gone With The Wind'. She wears a gown, with her hair parted and pulled back.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A poster for the dark romance 'Rebecca', directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring English actor Laurence Olivier (1907 - 1989) as Max de Winter and Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs de Winter, 1940. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

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119 Responses to “Olivia de Havilland & Joan Fontaine, both in their 90s, are still pissed at each other”

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  1. LOVE ANGELINA says:

    Who? *confused face* LOL sounds juicy though.

    You know I have never seen Rebecca I have to rent that.

  2. Relli says:

    Really Angelina, you don’t know who this is? Go watch some of her movies, lady was freaking epic, both of them. I have read a number of books and stories about this situation and i think their mother had a heavy hand in pitting them against each other at an early age.

  3. anon says:

    wonderful read thanks, this is interesting stuff.

  4. hellen says:

    OMG, anybody who is too young to know who these two divas are is missing the boat. Joan and Olivia were STARS when the word meant something!

    They came across as either annoying sweet or dramatically martyred on screen, but in reality they were a couple of chocolate-covered spiders. With, apparently, memories like elephants.

  5. jen says:

    Good stuff. I’d love to see more vintage scandals here too. Like “Vintage Scandal Monday” or something lol!

  6. nina says:

    It was Orson Wells who was in Jane Eyre, not Olivier. And he was damn fine back then!

  7. Diane says:

    Wow, I thought my two aunts held grudges but this is just too funny.

  8. umabrasileira says:

    THIS is what Hollywood is about!

  9. Emma says:

    I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one Kaiser – Team Olivia here, LOL. Sibling rivalry aside, I really like both of them, but I think Olivia is both more charismatic and the better actor – she was wonderful in GWTW, ‘The Snake Pit’, ‘The Dark Mirror’, ‘Hold Back the Dawn’, ‘The Heiress’… I think she has more range than Joan. In any case, I love ‘Rebecca’ and have a soft spot for Joan, who I also find talented.

    I love reading stories about Old Hollywood, I find everything about that period fascinating. As for Olivia and Joan’s rivalry, there’s obviously a great deal of resentment there, and God knows how much truth there is to the stories we read about them. I’m curious to read Joan’s book, but I would never take her side of the story and her version of events as gospel. Apparently Olivia is keeping quiet about her sister in her upcoming bio, which I’m also very interested in reading.

  10. lola lola says:

    Joan was amazing in Rebecca. Cute in The Women but really a great actress and true beauty.

  11. RobN says:

    I love that kind of commitment. People who don’t know who these two are need to watch AMC every once in awhile and see some great films. Both were huge stars who could actually act.

  12. Tiffany says:

    @ Love Angelina

    Rebecca is a great movie, it is all levels of creepy and spine tingling without the gore. I cannot look at loyal servants in movies the same again.

  13. Novaraen says:

    I totally love both these actresses…and this story is pretty awesome and sad at the same time. Didn’t know all this about them.

  14. chris says:

    I love this! Thanks for putting it up. I never would have known.

  15. Fluffy Kitten Tail says:

    Love Angelina, you should broaden your scope of movie viewing as most of the best films are from way before even my time. The classics teach you about what being a real actress is all about.

    As far as these two women, it is too bad that Hollywood is ever so boring now. Everything is so sanitized for the press. Feuds like this you no longer hear but whispers of.

    I have to say I am Team Joan, although I love Olivia as well! Rebecca is one of my all-time favorite movies.

  16. Tess says:

    Fabulous…but incredibly sad, too.

    Thanks to Hellen and Diane for your comments. Very funny.

  17. Sumodo1 says:

    I interviewed Olivia de Havilland in the late 1970s when she did a book signing at Yale. Her PR woman cautioned me against overt questions about her sister. I was able to get in a quote that made it to the Associated Press. I don’t remember it entirely, but I shared that I had a sister who despised me from birth. “How unfortunate it is to have a sister who despises you,” she said in not exactly those words.

    I lost a button from my suit jacket and she found it, sending it to me with a letter from her personal secretary (not signed by the lady herself) I saved for many years.

    Team Olivia!

    BTW, who’s going to star in the inevitable film?

  18. Iggles says:

    This is such a tragic story. Sick that at 92 and 94 these women are still holding a grudge. Sad that they rather go to the grave estranged…

  19. inessa says:

    I wish I had the energy to hate someone for so long!

  20. Ophelia says:

    Olivia was really good in “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” with Bette Davis, too. Great flick!

  21. di butler says:

    Hollywood has always been a viper pit of vain, immoral people. They just used to have talent, class, and be interesting. Now, we have Speidi and The Jersey Shore. End times, perhaps??

  22. womanfromthenorth says:

    I loved reading this. My Sister and I grew up with a Great Aunt living about a half a block from her Sister (our Grandmother) and never said a thing to each other for the rest of their lives! Gram was 84 and Aunty was 96 when they died, so I think it was well over 40 years of silence.

    My Sissy and I made a pact never to be that petty and stupid! Sisters rule!

  23. Eileen says:

    Oh geez $50 for the autobiography or the the book: Sisters: The Story of Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine. A little too rich for my blood! Maybe now its getting more attention they will re-release it?

  24. Fluffy Kitten Tail says:

    @Sumodo1- Great story!

    @Ophelia- YES! I love that movie!

  25. Sigh. says:

    @ Eileen:

    I just put mine on hold at my local library…maybe try yours.

    EDIT: Since I’m in moderation pugatory – I used to love my TCM Channel (digital cable) for this kinda stuff. They used to give you little tidbits and controversies about the movie, from if it was a box office bomb to who is “rumored” to have slept with whom to get the part.

    Can’t afford a $50 book or that luxury anymore…

  26. H says:

    Rebecca is one of my all time favorite movies. I think the feud is sad though, my brothers and I always have each others backs. And if the mother had a lot to do with it, as a mother I think that is horrible to pit your children against each other. I wonder if her biography is still in print. Sounds like a good read.

    Edit@ Eileen, to rich for mine too, thank goodness for public libriaries.

  27. freckles says:

    I loved the books GWTW and Rebecca, but I absolutely HATED the GWTW movie. I couldn’t get through 10 minutes, it was just terrible. Reading this almost makes me want to watch both it and Rebecca, though. They’re two of my favorite books… Rebecca is especially good, and creepy. :)

  28. original kate says:

    “rebecca” is one of the few books that translated well to the big screen, IMO. read/rent if you haven’t already.

  29. Nia says:

    I agree with Relli, the mother has a lot to answer for in this ongoing feud.

    Sibling relationships can sometimes be filled with confusion even during the best of times (trust me I know), but when a third party contributes to the hurt feelings from childhood, it can be disastrous.

    It’s very sad that they have never been able to heal, forgive and move on. Not necessarily as sisters or close friends, but simply as women.

  30. Crash2GO2 says:

    I found that to be a terribly sad read. Not fantastic or awesome at all. I don’t get it…?

    They were clearly raised by their mother to compete with each other both for her affections and professionally. So destructive it makes me ill.

  31. Cheyenne says:

    My God, where have I been all my life? I’ve seen both women’s movies but I never knew they were sisters. I think they were both fantastic actresses; Olivia was perfect as Melanie and Joan was perfect as Jane Eyre, although I was pissed off that the film script made so many changes from the book but she was not to blame for that.

    All that negative energy going into hating each other for so long is sad. My dad and my uncle had a running feud for 30 years during which neither one spoke to the other until one night when my uncle called my dad and I found out I had 11 cousins I’d never even heard of. He and my dad kept in touch after that and I was able to meet some of my cousins who lived in NYC, but sadly, I was never able to meet my uncle before he died.

  32. Cheyenne says:

    I’m with Nia, Crash and Relli. Their mother sounds toxic. No wonder her husband preferred geishas to her.

  33. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    I remember hearing about the Legion d’honneur being bestowed upon her, and the first thing I thought was, ‘Joan, Joan, Joan, Joan, Joan, Joan’.

    I had heard the broken collarbone story scads of times before, but I don’t know why I assumed that they were much younger when it happened. Teenagers, holy frijoles.

    I mean, Team Sanity, of course, but since that’ll never happen, I guess I’ve always liked Olivia de Havilland better. At least, she got the better name. I remember reading some account from Fontaine describing how she came to the name change. She stated that she was guided to do so by a medium, and I thought, ‘that’s crackers’. This makes more sense.

    You want to talk batshit parents, THIS is batshit. Father deserts his girls after breaking with their mother and goes back to Tokyo, and that mother…pfft. Makes Whatever Happened to Baby Jane look like pablum in comparison.

  34. Tess says:

    Another great read about Hollywood’s golden era is Michael Korda’s ‘Charmed Lives.’

    His uncle was director Alexander Korda, who was married to the gorgeous and mysterious actress Merle Oberon (back in the day when women were MOVIE STARS).

    Anyhoo, Michael writes about life with his father (who was in the movie business), his uncle, and his aunt Merle’s life and times. He tells insider stories about Hollywood and the the stars in their orbit.

    Also, turns out Merle, who passed herself off as an English aristocrat, was actually Indian…born in Bombay. This was taboo back in the day and kept a big secret. Seems she passed her mother off as her maid.

    Anyway, a great read for fans of old Hollywood and its larger-than-life characters.

  35. Feebee says:

    Okay, I’ve heard the names, but seriously unless you’re into old movies I find this from ‘hellen’ a little much:

    OMG, anybody who is too young to know who these two divas are is missing the boat. Joan and Olivia were STARS when
    the word meant something!

    It sounds like the peak of their careers were in the 1940s… THE 1940s!! I don’t think being born some 30 years after that not knowing the details surrounding these two means I’ve missed the boat.

    They sound like an awesome “historical” story though.

  36. Riley says:

    @hellen: I love your post. I probably should know who these actresses are. I am almost 35 and I am embarassed to say, took a film class in college, but I have never heard of these actresses or this bitch fight. One reason may be because I am from the South, the Gone with the Wind South, where every weekend some stupid greek club or bored housewife throws a Gone with the Wind party. Some of my cousin’s friends had cardboard cut-outs of Rhett B in their bedrooms when we were growing up. I REFUSED TO HAVE ANYTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH GD GWTW. I refuse to watch it and read it. So that is probably why I have never heard of the one sister, though it appears she has been a lot of films I probably should’ve seen by now. Maybe this Fall I should host Catch Up on Old Hollywood Movies movie nights at my house for me and my friends.

  37. Eileen says:

    The library-DUH. Why didn’t I think of that??
    I almost caved and bought it but my husband would shit since I just got the iPad and bought it for the awesome book feature….but they don’t have it to download.

  38. TQB says:

    @jen – I agree, give us Vintage Scandal Mondays! Make it up if you have to! More Liz Taylor, too! How about Patricia Neal, too? The dirt of old is way more interesting.

  39. Ligeia says:

    i think it’s horrible to have that kind of strained relationship with a family member for years. whats worse is that these two are one foot in the grave and still holding that grudge. *shakes head*

  40. angie fan says:

    I watched “The Heiress” so many times, I know the dialogue by heart. Brilliant, outstanding performance by Olivia…her absolute best.

    Team Olivia. I find Joan’s acting a little heavy and over dramatic with her facial expressions and mannerism, but hey, that’s my opinion.

  41. Lala11_7 says:

    I love both actresses, however “The Heiress” is one of my FAVORITE movies…so I have to be Team Olivia on terms of acting…

    However, regarding their personal situation…it is a shame, that two such lovely and talented women have allowed for anger and resentment to eat up decades of their lives…

    I am also giving their mama the ‘side eye’ regarding this…she could have nipped this in the bud decades ago…


  42. nycmom10024 says:

    Immediately called my mom when I read this story. My mom nurtured a love of old movies in us. So while I always knew of the feud, I adored the work of both woman.

    Mom was both surprised they will still alive and still fighting.

  43. Porscha says:

    OMG, Jen, GREAT IDEA! Kaiser, please please do a Vintage Scandal Monday. It doesn’t even have to be an ongoing one, but as you said yourself, these bitches knew how to do it with glamour. I’d live for those posts.

  44. Leticia says:

    Their mutual hatred is keeping them alive! If they reconciled they might both die!

  45. mslewis says:

    Actually, this feud doesn’t surprise me. I have four sisters and believe me, it takes a LOT of effort to be civil with them at times!! At this point, there is one sister I haven’t spoken to since early July. I imagine, as always, we will speak at some point but I don’t really care when. I’m sure it will be before we are in our 90s!!!

    So, I really don’t think it’s so strange that Joan and Olivia have hated each other for so long. It’s probably the mother’s fault but she’s been gone now for 40 years so the mother can’t still be blamed. These two just don’t want to give in and make up and I think it’s okay. I seriously doubt they are thinking about dying and still hating each other. In fact, they are probably each thinking that is exactly what they want to do!!! It’s comical, not sad.

    Anyway, I love both of these women and I loved every movie they have been in, except for Gone with the Wind (because it’s a terrible movie and racist) and “Rebecca” is one of my all time favorites. I think they were equally good actresses. In fact, I think I’ll go to Netflix now and see if any of their movies are streaming.

  46. Cheyenne says:

    @mslewis: Very good point. Mom probably originated the whole mess but mom’s been pushing up grass for the past 40 years and the feud has taken on a life of its own. They can’t blame mom for perpetuating it. They’re doing a great job of that all by themselves.

    GWTW on the one hand is a racist POS and on the other it’s a great romance. The movie was perfectly cast (who else could have played Rhett and Scarlett?) except for Ashley Wilkes. I almost gagged when he came on the screen. I kept wondering who in hell is that wimp and why would any woman prefer him to Clark Gable?

  47. Eileen says:

    Oooo I’m already putting in my request for Vivien Leigh for VSM (Vintage Scandal Monday!)

  48. RhymesWithSilver says:

    Oof- I should send this to my friend who’s always on the outs with her sister; “See? This s#!% can go on FOREVER if you want it to!”

  49. jane16 says:

    That is really sad. I love both their movies. My mom knew them back in the 40′s, early 50′s when she was young, and told me they hated each other. Everyone told my mom she looks like Olivia, which she does face shape wise. Her eyes are hazel though.

  50. For years i have been a fan of these two beautifull legends and very fine actresses.I had no idea that they have had a life time of rivalry and hatred towards each other. This is such a pity.As a previous commenter wrote, they are a stones throw away from the grave and so at ninety,they should grow up and “Bury the hatchet so to speak”.I have seen Joan in Rebeccae many times and each time i see Rebecca i learn something new about the characters.I believe Olivia was in Gone with the wind and gave a stellar performance.I think they are and were fantastic actors in their time.They should put the past behind them and enjoy what time they have left in peace.They cannot repair the damage after death.

  51. Novaraen says:

    Cheyenne…I agree that casting Leslie Howard as the young and vibrant Ashley Wilkes was a terrible choice. He was too old for the role, but they still tried to pull it off. Rhett Butler, on the other hand…was all man!! :)

  52. K-MAC says:

    now that is old school Hollywood….makes Jolie & Aniston looks like kid’s play :)

  53. hmm says:

    I second the comment about reading “Rebecca,” as well as seeing the movie. Both are awesome. Daphne duMaurier rocks, as does Alfred Hitchcock. GWTW I could do without.

  54. Tazina says:

    It’s not so unusual. I know a ton of people who can’t stand their siblings and haven’t spoken to them in years. Sometimes these feuds are started when the last parent dies; it comes to the settling of the estate and somebody feels they are getting ripped off.

    I do remember this feud. I was surprised that they were both still with us. How lovely that they still are.

  55. Serena says:

    I can’t imagine putting fame over family! Their mother didn’t instill them with any sort of family values. This is too sad.

  56. Crash2GO2 says:

    “Mom probably originated the whole mess but mom’s been pushing up grass for the past 40 years and the feud has taken on a life of its own. They can’t blame mom for perpetuating it. They’re doing a great job of that all by themselves.”

    Mom started it, and Hollywood, being such a great producer of narcissistic personalities, no doubt helped the sisters feel vindicated in continuing the rivalry. What you are steeped in as a very young child is extremely difficult to overcome without professional help – certainly nothing these ladies ever thought for a minute they needed, thus explaining the state of their granny panties (wadded).

  57. whatever says:

    Hate is just a wasted emotion.
    I choose indifference dealing, or should I say, not dealing with my brother.

    There is a saying, “you can’t pick your family”. That is true. But you can make the conscience decision not to have them be in your life, if you choose not to. I choose not to.

  58. Jo says:

    Love Love this!! I too vote for VSM!!

    My Mom also fostered a love of old movies I am printing this now and mailing it to her.. She won’t get a computer but she has her TCM!! by GOD!!


  59. buenavissta says:

    Fascinating and tragic. They make my own sinisters seem downright sweet.

    Count me in for Vintage Scandal Mondays!

  60. Lady D says:

    Freaking hilarious comments, “chocolate-covered spiders” has to be one of the best. I too think their hatred for each other has kept them alive. On a side note, may I please cast my vote for VSM.

  61. Dawn says:

    I love old hollywood actors and stories. If you want more old-school rumors,fueds and everything else. Run to your library and look for Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon(only books one&two)

    Even back in the day, bitches’ be trippen’

  62. anon says:

    buenavissta: sinisters
    typo or Freudian slip ? :-)

  63. Kaiser says:

    I will take note of your requests for a continuing feature of Vintage Scandal Mondays – I love Old Hollywood dirt, but researching some of these old stories might be a pain in the ass. CB & I will discuss it though!

  64. Cheyenne says:

    Kaiser, maybe you can start with the Taylor-Fisher-Reynolds mess. That one made the front page of almost every newspaper in the country, not just the tabloids.

    Ditto Lana Turner’s daughter Cheryl Crane killing her sleazeball lover Johnny Stompanato.

  65. Cheyenne says:

    @Novaraen: I was in high school when GWTW was re-released in the theaters after decades. One of our teachers had us in hysterics telling us all about when it was originally released. Evidently as soon as they saw that first screen shot of Clark Gable leering up the staircase at Vivien Leigh, every woman in the audience screamed out loud, had a collective orgasm and fell into the aisles.

  66. mln says:

    I never knew they were sisters they are both awesome, and the feud is juicy really old school. It is sad of course but I can identify having sisters that I bicker with and make up with although nothing as epically juicy as this. But one hopes in the end to be able to mend fences.

  67. bettie says:

    THis is funny! Darn little old ladies. I have a very special place in my heart for everything old Hollywood! I just devour those movies. Jean harlow is my favorite girl of that era! She’s so cute!

    I want to just die knowing that Olivia knew Clark Gable! Woman i hate u! :D

  68. Lita says:

    Cosign Jen’s “Vintage Feud Monday!” Brilliant idea! I think I’m the only person that doesn’t care for Hot Guy Friday here, lol – bring on Vintage Feud Mondays!!!

  69. bettie says:

    I think the Golden age of Hollywood was the best and most glamorous time! Today’s Hollywood is just eh.

    When I went to L.A. it was just for the historical part.The museums, the theatres and the prints of these stars! I saw Brad Pitt’s and George Clooney’s prints and passed em up.

    I was like “Where’s Joan Crawford’s and my Girl Jean Harlow’s?”

  70. Mistral says:

    The Charles Higham biography of Flynn is generally considered full of crap, and I hate to see it cited anywhere as fact.

    Hollywood stars such as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (who hated each other) both defended Flynn against lies told against him (like the claims that he was a homosexual).

    Flynn admitted having a huge crush on Olivia, and Bette Davis thought he was actually in love with her for real, but she never took him seriously.

    Even though Olivia and Joan don’t talk, Joan’s kids apparently do talk to their aunt. So, it looks like Joan is the one who is most at fault.

    Both ladies were gorgeous and talented. At some point you have to let go of petty jealousies and hurts and make peace with your family.

  71. CB Rawks says:

    “I agree with Relli, the mother has a lot to answer for in this ongoing feud.
    Sibling relationships can sometimes be filled with confusion even during the best of times (trust me I know), but when a third party contributes to the hurt feelings from childhood, it can be disastrous.”

    “They were clearly raised by their mother to compete with each other both for her affections and professionally. So destructive it makes me ill.”

    Me too. My sister hated me for being born, and has treated me like shite my whole life, so I understand their feelings. And the mother is definitely at fault there. God, she sounds like a monster!

  72. poppy says:

    Oddly enough I was just reading a story online about the feud a few days ago, a young woman managed to sneak into a press call when Olly was receiving an award and asked the awkward question about her and her sister because she was in a feud with her own sister at the time, she was thrown out of the building before she could get an answer but she waited around at the back entrance and Olivia did speak to her for a few moments before her car arrived.

    The young woman later turned into a journalist and wrote about it….basically Olivia was sad about it and seemed to half admit it was her fault, saying that you should never ever speak badly of your relatives (apparently Olly was know to bad mouth Joan around the studio in her ever so sweet passive aggressive style and it always got back to Joan). It seemed that Olivia did wanted to put things to rest but after all this time it was just so much easier to not even try.

    Team Olivia for acting though….My Cousin Rachel with Richard Burton is also a good one. Joan always seems so much taller than her sister on screen, but they were both 5’3”.

  73. Libby says:

    LOVE Olivia! Watch her with Errol in Captain Blood,Robin Hood, Dodge City and They Died with Their Boots On. They obviously adored each other. She was one strong lady if she did truly resist his constant flirtations. Gorgeous Old Hollywood couple.

    The mother was a big part of this unfortunate impasse.

  74. Anti-icon says:

    Great Post. Great broads. Long live the cold war between these two!!!!

  75. Rosanna says:

    Probably Olivia resented Joan because Joan was far more beautiful.

  76. Cletus says:

    I love them both, with slightly more love for Olivia. Just a lil bit.

    ALSO, if you are gonna watch Rebecca, please also READ Rebecca. The movie is good… the book is better. It is so creepy. It’s right up there with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein. Seriously, read the book.

  77. buenavissta says:

    @anon: that’s what I’ve called them my whole life but only my brother appreciates it:)

  78. Kiska says:

    I have followed both these actresses during my epic black n’ white movie phase. They are both fantastic actresses with beautiful faces and voices. I’ve read about them and their infamous hate-on for each other. There must be tons of karmic debt going on there. However, I know that hate can run just as deep as love in family relationships.

    Any movie buffs, get their movies! They are phenomenal!

    Kaiser, these old Hollywood posts are wonderful. Keep it going, next up, the rogue, Mr. Flynn? hmmmm?

  79. anon says:

    @buenavissta: me and your brother, good one :-)

  80. melangie says:

    Another beautiful old hollywood book is “How We Lived Then” by Dominic Dunne. It’s filled with gossip & photo’s that Dominic took in the 50′s & 60′s. Coffee table book out of print but avail for a song on half or amazon used.

  81. Conando says:

    It would’ve been really interesting if Olivia beat out Joan for the lead in Rebecca.

    Although Laurence Olivier wanted Vivien for the role, I think he would’ve been fine with Olivia getting the part since Olivia & Vivien were friends, instead of Joan who he hated (and certainly let know about that fact).

  82. CB Rawks says:

    @whatever “Hate is just a wasted emotion.
    I choose indifference dealing, or should I say, not dealing with my brother.
    There is a saying, “you can’t pick your family”. That is true. But you can make the conscience decision not to have them be in your life, if you choose not to. I choose not to.”

    @whatever, that’s exactly what I chose! It makes sense after 40 years of banging your head against the wall.
    People often don’t understand that choice, but they should look at it this way: if a *friend* is hurting you over and over you stop seeing them, for your own best interest. Everyone understands that. It’s the same thing.

  83. wunderkindt says:

    A classic: toxic ‘Old Hollywood’ sibling actresses.
    Love it! Thanks for the read.

  84. Andrea-2 says:

    Check out “Hollywood Babylon” for ideas on old Hollywood scandals.

  85. Shay says:

    There is nothing like Old Hollywood glam, glitz and bitchery. I had no idea they were still alive and they had a career, unlike the five second morons like Heidi, Paris, Kim and other w—res who are famous for being famous.

  86. RaraAvis says:

    Great story! I named my daughter Melanie (after the book, not the movie) and Rebecca was able to pull off in the movie the amazing hook from the book, one that was never done before or since. Watch it or read it and see how long it takes you to catch it. Hint: Joan’s character was NOT named Rebecca.

  87. hzl says:

    Team Olivia! We both went to the same college.

  88. Cheyenne says:

    @Andrea-2: I’ve heard “Hollywood Babylon” is about as reliable as Ian Halperin; which is to say, most of the book is a load of horseshit.

  89. moni says:

    This is the best!!! Please share more stories like this. I can’t get enough of ‘real’ hollywood unlike the crap that exists now….ty for this story

  90. Catherine says:

    Wow, now that was interesting! Immature that they still don’t speak after 35 years? Not at all. Sometimes you let people go who have caused you pain. No need to look back and reconnect just to bring that rivalry and pain back into your life.

  91. CB Rawks says:

    Exactly Catherine, you said it better than I could.

  92. Lenore says:

    My favourite old Hollywood story has to be the one about Vivien Leigh on GWTW – apparently she was having a bit of a tough time at one point, missing marks, having to do endless retakes, because she was missing Olivier. David O. Selznick had Olivier flown in to try to cheer his star up a bit, and when she returned the following week, beaming, this perfect English rose told her producer, “Oh, David, it was wonderful. Larry was here and we just f*cked and f*cked and f*cked the whole weekend.”

    Those classic stars were all class. :D

  93. SammyHammy says:

    “BTW, who’s going to star in the inevitable film?”

    Ummm….Jolie and Aniston?

  94. Holly says:

    Their mother sounds like a demented psycho. I feel so sorry for those girls.

  95. Statler says:

    I’ve mentioned the vintage gossip idea before, so there’s another vote. I know it’s extra work, but I don’t know of any website that has a feature like this. So you’d have a monopoly on all the Old Hollywood aficionados… and there seem to be a fair number of us. Think of all those extra page hits… ;)

  96. Maritza says:

    This would be an interesting story for a movie. I wonder who would play Joan and Olivia?

  97. Sandy says:

    Joan better than Olivia? C’mon! You can’t be serious. Olivia way trumps Joan

  98. sammyhammy says:

    You’re right, Statler…they could devote an entire section to Errol Flynn alone. Now THAT’S a HOT GUY!

    And again I say, Jolie and Aniston to play Joan and Olivia?

  99. Jazz says:

    My two sisters had a falling out over a horse in the 80′s and didn’t speak for five years. Then they had another falling out over our Dad’s will and haven’t spoken for the last seven years. Neither of them or my brother talk to me much these days.
    @buenavissta – sinisters sounds like a great nickname!

  100. Fishlips says:

    Great idea, jen!!! I also vote for Vintage Scandal Monday!!!!!

  101. Green Is Good says:

    My word, Ladies. Get over it already. You’ve outlived practically every Golden Age Hollywood star out there.

    I thought hatred killed you faster? Guess not. They’re living to spite each other.

    (Epic juicy piece of gossip, though)

    EDIT: I love the idea of Vintage Scandal Monday! (Gets out copy of Hollywood Babylon)

  102. Mairead says:

    +1 for Vintage Scandal Monday. Errol Flynn alone could keep you going for months! As would the legendary feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (Sean Considine’s tome on this is brilliant). Joan Crawford’s life would be a brilliant Ava Gardner’s first encounter with transexual women in Paris is a hoot. :lol:

    Ladies, I’m about the same age as many of you (and yes you are missing out if you think films from 30 years before you were born are “irrelevant”). I would really recommend starting to get into old films – they can seem a bit mannered in comparison to modern acting styles, but the production values were stunning and women tended to be the scriptwriters, so parts for women were often a bit more interesting than films today.

    And I totally cosign on Gone With the Wind. The most over-rated over-long guff. With the exceptions of Olivia de Havilland, oddly enough who did a good job with the drippy Melanie and Hattie McDaniel. But it’s too much to sit through for those couple of shining moments.

  103. Mei says:

    I need to get a copy of Hollywood Babylon!

  104. angie fan says:

    I heard the casting of “Melanie” for GWTW was quite a scandalous event. EVERY actress in Hollywood wanted this part and they did whatever it took to get it, in particular Joan Crawford. Lots of sleeping around with studio exes and what-not. Love to know more about this scandal.

  105. Aqua says:

    Jen agree with VSM. I love old movies and movie stars.Since most of the scandals were before my time I would love to know more about them. Everything including writing,scripts,directors,actors/actress were so much better back then.Nowadays we know to much about stars and anyone can be a star for ANY reason. I love Olivia especially in The Heiress,my heart broke for her.The Snake Pit was good too.Of course Rebecca with Joan is an excellent movie and a go to favorite.

  106. poppy says:

    @angie fan, I don’t think it was the ‘Melanie’ role that had the major scandals attached, Olivia was pretty much first choice but the ‘Scarlet’ stories are huge, there was even a movie made about it. Still, both Olivia and Joan did tested for the role of Scarlet so they could well have been in on the hanky panky.

    The authoress of GWTW wanted Miriam Hopkins to play the part, Miriam was also well known for her epic, long running fued with Bette Davis

  107. ViktoryGin says:

    Wow! Didn’t even realize that these two weren’t dead.

    Information travels too quickly for Hollywood to be nearly as interesting or mystifying these days. Sigh. Ironically, I’ve been on an Old Hollywood kick this week. Just got through watching two documentaries on Vivien Leigh and Joan Crawford.

    Part of the reason, people don’t feud like this in public anymore, is that with instaneous mass media, damage is often instant. If that story you posted about Vivien Leigh trolling for strange for hire as mentioned in ths new bio about her life is true, she would NEVER be able to hide something like that what with fucking TMZ working around the clock and indiscreet harlots who now become famous off of celebrity whoring. Stars have to be much more careful these days, and I don’t blame them.

  108. angie fan says:

    @Poppy, yes, you’re right, it was the role of Scarlet. It was the most sought-out role in the history of Old-Hollywood. I heard it took the studio execs a couple of years to find their Scarlet.

  109. lala in nYc says:

    I love Old Hollywood!

    I’ve watched all their movies but had no idea they were sisters. They are very different actors. I do hope they reconcile. 35 years is a long time to hold a grudge. They’re Oscar winning actors aren’t they? Can’t they pretend to get along?

    My love to both of these talented women!

  110. Ruth says:

    I didn’t read the whole story, because once I got to “Joan refused to come to Paris for the ceremony awarding Olivia the Légion d’honneur” I knew they didn’t know what they were writing about. Joan was not invited. Ask Olivia why her sister wasn’t invited. Don’t put this on Joan.

  111. Truth says:

    For what it’s worth, Vivien Leigh was a cold, rotten mother. Shallow bitch.

  112. Neil says:

    Can’t believe there are some film fans who never heard of either one. They’ve both been in so many film classics, it’s no excuse to say they were “before your time.” Wake up. You’re a prisoner of your time if you think movies only began when you were born. Having a sense of film history should begin at an early age.

    Much prefer Olivia–obviously the greater actress–while my admiration for Joan is for really only a few films.

    Olivia’s string of hits in the ’40s (including TO EACH HIS OWN, THE DARK MIRROR, THE SNAKE PIT and THE HEIRESS) showed her willingness to take on roles that really stretched her acting abilities. Joan played it safe in demure roles any capable actress could have played.

  113. Lola says:

    Olivia was by far the greater actress and beauty. An honest, NATURAL beauty.

    Joan was too whiny and self-pitying. She only got her Oscar because Olivia didn’t vote for herself. Yes,it was THAT close.

  114. Lola says:

    Olivia is the better actress, come on!

    And I wouldn’t take what either the Daily Mail or Charles Higham had to say seriously.

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