Vivien Leigh – English beauty
Vivien Leigh was an English actress, winner of two Oscar awards for the roles of American beauties: Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Talented actress often worked in collaboration with her husband, Laurence Olivier, who was a director of several films with her participation. During her thirty-year career, she had played a variety of roles from comedy heroines of Noel Coward and George Bernard Shaw to classic Shakespearean characters: such as Ophelia, Cleopatra, Juliet and Lady Macbeth. The actress had a poor health. Vivien and Olivier divorced in 1960, and later she only occasionally appeared in films and played in the theater until her death from tuberculosis.
She is one of the greatest actresses in the history.
Vivian Mary Hartley was born on November 5, 1913 in Darjeeling. Her father, Ernest Hartley, was an officer in the Indian Cavalry. Her parents were married in Kensington, London, in 1912. Vivian Hartley made her debut on the stage at the age of three when she read the poem Little Bo Peep as part of her mother’s amateur theater group.
In 1920, Vivian was sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart of England. Maureen O’Sullivan, the future actress, was her best friend in the convent. Vivian continued her education in Europe and in 1931 she returned to England. She dreamed of becoming an actress. Her father helped her enroll at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
In late 1931, she met Herbert Leigh Holman, a lawyer who was 13 years older than her. They were married on December 20, 1932 and on October 12, 1933 she gave birth to her daughter, Suzanne.
In 1935, she appeared in the play The Mask of Virtue and received excellent reviews. Laurence Olivier saw the actress in that play and they became friends. In the film Fire Over England, they played lovers and realized that their friendship grew into a love affair.
The film Gone with the Wind brought her attention and fame. She was awarded Oscar and New York Film Critics Circle awards.
On August 30, 1940 Olivier and Vivian were married in Santa Barbara, California. The only witnesses at the ceremony were Katharine Hepburn and Garson Kanin.
Leigh and Olivier played together in the film Lady Hamilton (1941), where Lawrence starred as Horatio Nelson and Vivien as Emma Hamilton. The film was a huge success not only in the US and UK, but also in the USSR. Olivier and Leigh became favorites of Winston Churchill and until the end of his life he invited them to dinner parties.
In 1944, the actress was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the left lung. However, after several weeks in the hospital, it seemed that the disease had left her. In the spring she starred in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), at the same time it became clear that she was waiting for the baby. Unfortunately, she had a miscarriage. She fell into a deep depression.
In 1946, Vivien played in a successful London production The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder and starred in the films Caesar and Cleopatra and Anna Karenina.
In 1947 Olivier was knighted, and Vivien accompanied him to Buckingham Palace for the ceremony. She became Lady Olivier.
326 performances of Streetcar were played and Vivien was invited to take part in the film version of the play. For her role of Blanche DuBois the actress was awarded her second Oscar and BAFTA awards.
A few years later, Vivien, who suffered from bipolar disorder, said that it was the role of Blanche DuBois which led her to insanity.
Leigh and Olivier divorced in 1960, but she continued to work in the theatre. In 1963, she made her Broadway musical debut in Tovarich. She made her last film, Ship of Fools.
Vivien Leigh died on July 7, 1967 in London.