A little healthy sibling rivalry is present in all families, but there was nothing healthy about the blatant animosity Olivia DeHavilland and Joan Fontaine had for each other. As children, their mother and father, and later step-father, pitted them against each other in a competition for love and attention. The mother sided with Olivia, the father figure with Joan, if at all. They learned at an early age to consider themselves enemies and not friends, and sadly never caught on to the trick or learned to rely on each other. Both grew up willful and brainwashed, and their rivalry only increased when both entered the entertainment business. Olivia had enjoyed success with A Midsummer Night's Dream when Joan came on the scene at RKO, which she probably did only because her new career path would surely annoy her sister. To estrange herself from her sister, Olivia and her mother insisted that Joan change her last name, which she did. The fight reached a climax at the Academy Awards of 1942 when both sisters were nominated: Olivia for Hold Back the Dawn and Joan for Suspicion. Joan would win, but Olivia would get even, winning in 1947 for To Each His Own and coldly turning her back on her sister's offered hand of congratulations.
It seems that the name Joan is cursed. Along with Ms. Fontaine, Joan Crawford is infamous for her battles and rivalries with other starlets. The most predominant war was with the incomparable Bette Davis, of course. Just how the rift started is up for debate, but many assume that it occured when Joan made the move to Warner Brothers, Bette's turf, to make Mildred Pierce. Bette was the reigning female star on the lot, so to have the equally notorious Ms. Crawford suddenly appear made the two a prime target for gossip, which created a false problem between the two before a real one even existed. They had no real relationship, and Bette tried to avoid her supposed nemesis in an attempt to dodge the possibility of fiction turning into fact. Joan did the opposite, supposedly wooing Bette like an ardent lover, sending her flowers and letters of flattery in the hope that the two could become friends. As Joan was a circumspect and puzzling person, it is unknown whether she did this to truly endear herself to a woman she considered a professional equal, or to overcompensate for the abundant rumors that they did indeed hate each other, or to play a cunning game of killing with kindness.