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Monday, December 31, 2012

Famous American Actresses Born In Japan - Updated

A few nights ago, I was watching a movie called Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte with my wife. It starred Bette Davis, Agnes Moorehead and Olivia de Havilland (left in photo above).

So... imagine my surprise when I discovered that Ms. de Havilland was actually born in Tokyo, Japan on July 1, 1916... and is still alive and kicking. Hunh... I guess being in Japan tends to give one a nice long life.

In fact, her sister Joan Fontaine (right in photo above), who was also born in Tokyo on October 22, 1917 is also still alive and kicking. (Editor's Note: Joan passed away on December 15, 2013, aged 96 found hacked to pieces across several neighborhood driveways ... sorry, damn Auto Correct... of natural causes.)

The two sisters are Academy Award winners for Best Actress:
  • Olivia as Josephine 'Jody' Norris in To Each His Own in 1946 and as Catherine Sloper in The Heiress in 1949;
  • Joan as Lina McLaidlaw Aysgarth in Suspicion in 1941.
They are the last surviving leading ladies from Hollywood of the 1930s. And... they apparently don't like each other very much.

But here's the interesting story about how Hollywood owes a great debt of thanks to Japan.

The sisters were born from Lilian (lived to be 88 @ 1886 - 1975) and Walter de Havilland (lasted to 95 @ 1872 - 1968) - so I guess there may be something to the whole 'genes' theory. Anyhow... dear old dad was a patent attorney in Japan and he... well... he may have been a great dad, but not a great husband as he was caught by his wife using the sexual services of geisha.

I guess those services from lower level geisha may have cost extra than the geisha who only sing and play the shamisan.

Anyhow... the parents separated in 1919 and mom took the kids with her back to Great Britain (mom and dad were British). However, because young Joan was anemic at that time, a doctor suggested she might get better care in the U.S.

And so... thanks to the promiscuity of a horny English man in Japan and the then inadequate healthcare system in Great Britain, the world got two excellent actresses in Hollywood.

Yes... Joan's health did improve after going to the U.S.

Oh... and the de Havilland name... if it sounds familiar, it's because it is also famous in the aviation industry... yup... the girl's father's cousin was none other than Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882-1965), an aviation pioneer (Go and check out my new blog on Pioneers Of Aviation that I started this past week) who formed the de Havilland Aircraft Company that built the famous Mosquito bomber that was used against Germany and later against the Japanese in World War II. The company was purchased by Hawker Siddeley Company in 1960 when de Havilland gave up control.

Man... I wish I had some popcorn to watch this movie.

Andrew Joseph


  1. Replies
    1. dude, i *am* the easter egg! and you are the walrus :)

    2. So you keep telling me. But the walrus was appalled because he likes easter eggs... and oysters.