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Vivien Leigh (/ l iː /; 5 November 1913 – 8 July 1967; born Vivian Mary Hartley and styled as Lady Olivier after 1947) was a British actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, for her definitive performances as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), a role she had also played on stage in London ...
- Suzanne Farrington
- Plot summary
- Early life and career
- Later career
If a film were made of the life of Vivien Leigh, it would open in India just before World War I, where a successful British businessman could live like a prince. In the mountains above Calcutta, a little princess is born. Because of the outbreak of World War I, she is six years old the first time her parents take her to England. Her mother thinks she should have a proper English upbringing and insists on leaving her in a convent school - even though Vivien is two years younger than any of the other girls at the school. The only comfort for the lonely child is a cat that was in the courtyard of the school that the nuns let her take up to her dormitory. Her first and best friend at the school is an eight-year-old girl, Maureen O'Sullivan who has been transplanted from Ireland. In the bleakness of a convent school, the two girls can recreate in their imaginations the places they have left and places where they would some day like to travel. After Vivien has been at the school for 18 months, her mother comes again from India and takes her to a play in London. In the next six months Vivien will insist on seeing the same play 16 times. In India the British community entertained themselves at amateur theatricals and Vivien's father was a leading man. Pupils at the English convent school are eager to perform in school plays. It's an all-girls school, so some of the girls have to play the male roles. The male roles are so much more adventurous. Vivien's favorite actor is Leslie Howard, and at 19 she marries an English barrister who looks very much like him. The year is 1932. Vivien's best friend from that convent school has gone to California, where she's making movies. Vivien has an opportunity to play a small role in an English film, Things Are Looking Up (1935). She has only one line but the camera keeps returning to her face. The London stage is more exciting than the movies being filmed in England, and the most thrilling actor on that stage is Laurence Olivier. At a party Vivien finds out about a stage role, \\"The Green Sash\\", where the only requirement is that the leading lady be beautiful. The play has a very brief run, but now she is a real actress. An English film is going to be made about Elizabeth I. Laurence gets the role of a young favorite of the queen who is sent to Spain. Vivien gets a much smaller role as a lady-in-waiting of the queen who is in love with Laurence's character. In real life, both fall in love while making this film, Fire Over England (1937). In 1938, Hollywood wants Laurence to play Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights (1939). Vivien, who has just recently read Gone with the Wind (1939), thinks that the role of Scarlett O'Hara is the first role for an actress that would be really exciting to bring to the screen. She sails to America for a brief vacation. In New York she gets on a plane for the first time to rush to California to see Laurence. They have dinner with Myron Selznick the night that his brother, David O. Selznick, is burning Atlanta on a backlot of MGM (actually they are burning old sets that go back to the early days of silent films to make room to recreate an Atlanta of the 1860s). Vivien is 26 when Gone with the Wind (1939) makes a sweep of the Oscars in 1939. So let's show 26-year-old Vivien walking up to the stage to accept her Oscar and then as the Oscar is presented the camera focuses on Vivien's face and through the magic of digitally altering images, the 26-year-old face merges into the face of Vivien at age 38 getting her second Best Actress Oscar for portraying Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). She wouldn't have returned to America to make that film had not Laurence been going over there to do a film, Carrie (1952) based on Theodore Dreiser's novel \\"Sister Carrie\\". Laurence tells their friends that his motive for going to Hollywood to make films is to get enough money to produce his own plays for the London stage. He even has his own theater there, the St. James. Now Sir Laurence, with a seat in the British House of Lords, is accompanied by Vivien the day the Lords are debating about whether the St James should be torn down. Breaking protocol, Vivien speaks up and is escorted from the House of Lords. The publicity helps raise the funds to save the St. James. Throughout their two-decade marriage Laurence and Vivien were acting together on the stage in London and New York. Vivien was no longer Lady Olivier when she performed her last major film role, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961).
Vivian Mary Hartley was born on November 5, 1913, in Darjeeling, India. She was to live in this beautiful country for the next six years. Her parents wanted to go home to England but because of World War I they opted to stay in India. At the end of the war the Hartleys headed back to their home country, where Vivien's mother wanted her daughter to have a convent education. She was one of the youngest in attendance, and it was not a happy experience for her. One of the few consolations was her friendship with a classmate who also became a successful actress, Maureen O'Sullivan While there her mother came for a visit and took her to a play on London's legendary West Side. It was there that Vivien decided to become an actress. At the end of her education, she met and married Herbert Leigh in 1932 and together had a child named Suzanne in 1933. Though she enjoyed motherhood, it did not squelch her ambition to be an actress. Her first role in British motion pictures was as Rose Venables in 1935's The Village Squire (1935). That same year Vivien appeared in Things Are Looking Up (1935), Look Up and Laugh (1935) and Gentlemen's Agreement (1935). In 1938, Vivien went to the US to see her lover, Laurence Olivier, who was filming Wuthering Heights (1939) (she had left Herbert Leigh in 1937). While visiting Olivier, Vivien had the good luck to happen upon the Selznick brothers, who were filming the burning of Atlanta for the film, Gone with the Wind (1939), based on Margaret Mitchell's novel. The role of Scarlett O'Hara had yet to be cast and she was invited to take part in a screen test for the role. There had already been much talk in Hollywood about who was to be cast as Scarlett. Some big names had tried out for the part, such as Norma Shearer, Katharine Hepburn and Paulette Goddard. In fact, most in the film industry felt that Goddard was a sure bet for the part. However, four days after the screen test, Vivien was informed that she had landed the coveted slot. Although few remember it now, at the time her casting was controversial, as she was British and many fans of the novel it was based on felt the role should be played by an American. In addition, the shoot wasn't a pleasant one, as she didn't get along with her co-star, Clark Gable. The rest, as they say, is history. The film became one of the most celebrated in the annals of cinema. Not only did it win Best Picture during the Academy Awards, but Vivien won for Best Actress. Already she was a household name. In 1940, she made two films, Waterloo Bridge (1940) and 21 Days Together (1940), though neither approached the magnetism of GWTW. That same year saw Vivien marry Olivier and the next year they appeared together in That Hamilton Woman (1941).
By the time of the filming of Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), her life had begun to unravel. She had suffered two miscarriages, contracted tuberculosis, and was diagnosed as a manic depressive. However, she gave another excellent performance in that film and her public was still enthralled with her, although the film was not a financial success. She rebounded nicely for her role as Blanche DuBois for her second Oscar-winning performance in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) opposite Marlon Brando in 1951. She wasn't heard from much after that. She made a film in 1955 (The Deep Blue Sea (1955)). In 1960, her marriage fell apart, as Olivier left her to marry actress Joan Plowright. She appeared on-screen again until 1961 in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961), co-starring Warren Beatty.
Vivien's final turn on the screen came in Ship of Fools (1965), and that was a small part. She died at the age of 53 after a severe bout of tuberculosis on July 7, 1967.
- Vivian Mary Hartley
Vivien Leigh, Actress: A Streetcar Named Desire. If a film were made of the life of Vivien Leigh, it would open in India just before World War I, where a successful British businessman could live like a prince. In the mountains above Calcutta, a little princess is born. Because of the outbreak of World War I, she is six years old the first time her parents take her to England. Her mother ...
May 13, 2021 · Leigh studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art but before launching her career, she married London lawyer Herbert Leigh Holman at 19. The union produced a daughter and her stage identity — changing the spelling of her first name from "Vivian" to "Vivien" and adding Leigh, according to Biography .
- Sandra Mardenfeld
Vivien Leigh was a fighter. She fought for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind and fought to be with the man she loved.But her most vicious battle was with mental illness: Few people realize that Leigh struggled with bipolar disorder.
The Daily Mail reported Vivien Leigh, who played the iconic Scarlett O’Hara in the movie “Gone With the Wind,” as a serial bisexual adulterer. A new biography revealed her marriage to Laurence Olivier was a sham as they both cheated on one another within months of being romantically linked in 1937.
Nov 17, 2014 · Nov 17, 2014 @ 22:40PM. “Gone With the Wind” star VIVIEN LEIGH was a sex-hungry, man-eating psycho who cruelly flaunted her affairs in the face of her husband, superstar actor Laurence Olivier. That’s the bombshell dropped by “Ryan’s Daughter” actress Sarah Miles, who also admits she had a huge crush on Olivier as a girl and later ...