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    Joan Fontaine Dies, Olivia de Havilland "Shocked and Saddened" by Sister's Death After Decades-Long Feud

    Joan Fontaine, Rebecca, Olivia de Havilland Getty Images

    It appears that it took Joan Fontaine's death at 96 to end the decades-long feud—one of Hollywood's most famous proverbial cold wars—between her and sister Olivia de Havilland.

    Then again, who says the feud is over? Maybe this actually means the feud will never end.

    But Fontaine's passing on Sunday has brought the first comment in years about her from de Havilland, 97, who said in a statement from her longtime home in Paris that she was "shocked and saddened" by her sister's death and grateful for the many "kind expressions of sympathies."

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    Though one theory was that the siblings' feud began when both were nominated for an Oscar in 1941 and Fontaine won, for Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion, but the lore has it that the younger sister's triumph only heightened animosity that formed in their childhood.

    "You can divorce your sister as well as your husbands," Fontaine, who also taught a master class in playing normal-girl-caught-up-in-crazy-town in the Hitchcock-directed Rebeccatold People in 1978. "I don't see her at all and I don't intend to."

    And Fontaine knew what she was talking about, having divorced four husbands by then.

    She also wrote in a memoir published that year, No Bed of Roses, about accepting her Academy Award under her sister's watchful gaze.

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    "My paralysis was total," she recalled. "I felt Olivia would spring across the table and grab me by the hair. I felt age 4, being confronted by my older sister. Damn it, I'd incurred her wrath again!"

    While discussing her book, Fontaine told People at the time that she last saw de Havilland in 1975, at their mother's funeral.

    "At the end of it, the minister handed Olivia a box containing my mother's ashes," the actress, whose credits also included Jane Eyre and The Constant Nymph, said. "She scattered a handful of ashes over the grave site and then silently passed the container to me. Not one word was exchanged. I think it is so ironic that the death of this marvelous woman was reponsible for our final schism."

    Despite the divorce comment, Fontaine did seemingly voice some regret over the way things had panned out between them.

    Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland Getty Images

    "By the way, we may not get along personally, but I am absolutely thrilled that my sister has accomplished what she has," she said. "Imagine what we could have done if we had gotten together. We could have selected the right scripts, the right directors, the right producers—we could have built our own empire. But it was not to be."

    De Havilland, who perhaps is best known by subsequent generations for her role as Melanie in Gone With the Wind, went on to win two Oscars for The Heiress and To Each His Own, but time didn't seem to help matters between the two.

    It's unknown when they actually last spoke or saw each other. While Fontaine was off the Hollywood grid for years, de Havilland appeared at the 75th Annual Academy Awards, where she received a standing ovation, to present 59 of her fellow past winners who had gathered for the landmark show.

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