64 Facts About Vivien Leigh


Vivien Leigh, styled as Lady Olivier after 1947, was a British actress.


Vivien Leigh won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, for her definitive performances as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind and Blanche DuBois in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, a role she had played on stage in London's West End in 1949.


Vivien Leigh won a Tony Award for her work in the Broadway musical version of Tovarich.


Vivien Leigh earned a reputation for being difficult to work with and for much of her life, she had bipolar disorder, as well as recurrent bouts of chronic tuberculosis, which was first diagnosed in the mid-1940s and ultimately led to her death at age 53.


Vivien Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley on 5 November 1913 in British India on the campus of St Paul's School in Darjeeling, Bengal Presidency.


Vivien Leigh was the only child of Ernest Richard Hartley, a British broker, and his wife, Gertrude Mary Frances.


Vivien Leigh's father was born in Scotland in 1882, while her mother, a devout Catholic, was born in Darjeeling in 1888 and might have been of Irish, Parsi Indian and Armenian ancestry.


Vivien Leigh was removed from the school by her father, and travelling with her parents for four years, she attended schools in Europe, notably in Dinard, Biarritz, the Sacred Heart in San Remo on the Italian Riviera, and in Paris, becoming fluent in both French and Italian.


Vivien Leigh attended A Connecticut Yankee, one of O'Sullivan's films playing in London's West End, and told her parents of her ambitions to become an actress.


Vivian met Herbert Vivien Leigh Holman, known as Vivien Leigh Holman, a barrister 13 years her senior, in 1931.


Vivien Leigh's friends suggested she take a minor role as a schoolgirl in the film Things Are Looking Up, which was her film debut, albeit uncredited as an extra.


Vivien Leigh engaged an agent, John Gliddon, who believed that "Vivian Holman" was not a suitable name for an actress.


Vivien Leigh was cast in the play The Mask of Virtue, directed by Sidney Carroll in 1935, and received excellent reviews, followed by interviews and newspaper articles.


Vivien Leigh continued with the play but, when Korda moved it to a larger theatre, Leigh was found to be unable to project her voice adequately or to hold the attention of so large an audience, and the play closed soon after.


Olivier and Vivien Leigh began an affair while acting as lovers in Fire Over England, while Olivier was still married to Esmond and Vivien Leigh to Holman.


Vivien Leigh was able to perform without mishap, and by the following day she had returned to normal with no recollection of the event.


Vivien Leigh appeared with Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore and Maureen O'Sullivan in A Yank at Oxford, which was the first of her films to receive attention in the United States.


Vivien Leigh was not well known in the United States despite his success in Britain, and earlier attempts to introduce him to American audiences had failed.


In February 1938, Vivien Leigh asked Myron that she be considered to play the part of Scarlett O'Hara.


Vivien Leigh travelled to Los Angeles to be with Olivier and to try to convince David Selznick that she was the right person for the part.


Myron Selznick represented Olivier and when he met Vivien Leigh, he felt that she possessed the qualities that his brother was searching for.


Vivien Leigh befriended Clark Gable, his wife Carole Lombard and Olivia de Havilland, but she clashed with Leslie Howard, with whom she was required to play several emotional scenes.


Vivien Leigh was sometimes required to work seven days a week, often late into the night, which added to her distress, and she missed Olivier, who was working in New York City.


Vivien Leigh had two great concerns: doing her best work in an extremely difficult role and being separated from Larry [Olivier], who was in New York.


In February 1940, Jill Esmond agreed to divorce Laurence Olivier, and Leigh Holman agreed to divorce Vivien, although they maintained a strong friendship for the rest of Leigh's life.


On 31 August 1940, Olivier and Vivien Leigh were married at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, in a ceremony attended only by their hosts, Ronald and Benita Colman and witnesses, Katharine Hepburn and Garson Kanin.


Vivien Leigh had made a screen test and hoped to co-star with Olivier in Rebecca, which was to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock with Olivier in the leading role.


Vivien Leigh refused to allow her to join Olivier in Pride and Prejudice, and Greer Garson played the role Leigh had wanted for herself.


Vivien Leigh's top billing reflected her status in Hollywood, and the film was popular with audiences and critics.


The Oliviers returned to Britain in March 1943, and Vivien Leigh toured through North Africa that same year as part of a revue for the armed forces stationed in the region.


Vivien Leigh reportedly turned down a studio contract worth $5,000 a week in order to volunteer as part of the war effort.


Vivien Leigh performed for troops before falling ill with a persistent cough and fevers.


Vivien Leigh was filming Caesar and Cleopatra when she discovered she was pregnant, then had a miscarriage.


In 1947, Olivier was knighted and Vivien Leigh accompanied him to Buckingham Palace for the investiture.


The tour was an outstanding success and, although Vivien Leigh was plagued with insomnia and allowed her understudy to replace her for a week while she was ill, she generally withstood the demands placed upon her, with Olivier noting her ability to "charm the press".


The most dramatic altercation occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand, when her shoes were not found and Vivien Leigh refused to go onstage without them.


Olivier and Vivien Leigh were chagrined that part of the commercial success of the play lay in audience members attending to see what they believed would be a salacious story, rather than the Greek tragedy that they envisioned.


Kazan had favoured Jessica Tandy and later, Olivia de Havilland over Vivien Leigh, but knew she had been a success on the London stage as Blanche.


Tennessee Williams commented that Vivien Leigh brought to the role "everything that I intended, and much that I had never dreamed of".


Vivien Leigh herself had mixed feelings about her association with the character; in later years, she said that playing Blanche DuBois "tipped me over into madness".


The reviews there were mostly positive, but film critic Kenneth Tynan angered them when he suggested that Vivien Leigh's was a mediocre talent that forced Olivier to compromise his own.


In January 1953, Vivien Leigh travelled to Ceylon to film Elephant Walk with Peter Finch.


Olivier returned her to their home in Britain, where, between periods of incoherence, Vivien Leigh told him she was in love with Finch and had been having an affair with him.


Also in 1953, Vivien Leigh recovered sufficiently to play The Sleeping Prince with Olivier, and in 1955 they performed a season at Stratford-upon-Avon in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Macbeth and Titus Andronicus.


In 1956, Vivien Leigh took the lead role in the Noel Coward play South Sea Bubble, but withdrew from the production when she became pregnant.


Vivien Leigh joined Olivier for a European tour of Titus Andronicus, but the tour was marred by Leigh's frequent outbursts against Olivier and other members of the company.


In 1960, considering her marriage to be over, Vivien Leigh began a relationship with actor Jack Merivale, who knew of Vivien Leigh's medical condition and assured Olivier that he would care for her.


Merivale joined her for a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Latin America that lasted from July 1961 until May 1962, and Vivien Leigh enjoyed positive reviews without sharing the spotlight with Olivier.


Vivien Leigh appeared in the films The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone and Ship of Fools.


Producer and director Stanley Kramer, who ended up with the film, planned to star Vivien Leigh but was initially unaware of her fragile mental and physical state.


Vivien Leigh won the L'Etoile de Cristal for her performance in a leading role in Ship of Fools.


In May 1967, Vivien Leigh was rehearsing to appear with Michael Redgrave in Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance when her tuberculosis resurfaced.


Vivien Leigh had been attempting to walk to the bathroom and, as her lungs filled with liquid, she collapsed and suffocated.


Vivien Leigh's funeral was attended by the luminaries of British stage and screen.


In 1968, Vivien Leigh became the first actress honoured in the United States by "The Friends of the Libraries at the University of Southern California".


The ceremony was conducted as a memorial service, with selections from her films shown and tributes provided by such associates as George Cukor, who screened the tests that Vivien Leigh had made for Gone with the Wind, the first time the screen tests had been seen in 30 years.


Vivien Leigh was considered to be one of the most beautiful actresses of her day, and her directors emphasised this in most of her films.


Vivien Leigh explained that she played "as many different parts as possible" in an attempt to learn her craft and to dispel prejudice about her abilities.


Vivien Leigh believed that comedy was more difficult to play than drama because it required more precise timing and said that more emphasis should be placed upon comedy as part of an actor's training.


In 1969, a plaque to Vivien Leigh was placed in the Actors' Church, St Paul's, Covent Garden, London.


The papers of Vivien Leigh, including letters, photographs, contracts and diaries, are owned by her daughter, Mrs Suzanne Farrington.


Also in 2013, Vivien Leigh was among the ten people selected by the Royal Mail for their "Great Britons" commemorative postage stamp issue.


Vivien Leigh was portrayed by American actress Morgan Brittany in The Day of the Locust, Gable and Lombard and The Scarlett O'Hara War.


Vivien Leigh was portrayed by Katie McGuinness in the Netflix miniseries Hollywood.