Vivien Leigh to be a brother actress who achieved film immortality by playing two of American literature"s most commemorated Southern belles, Scarlett O"Hara and Blanche DuBois.

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Who was Vivien Leigh?

Vivien Leigh to be convent-educated in England and throughout Europe and also was influenced by her schoolmate Maureen O'Sullivan come embark on an acting career. Leigh earned worldwide popularity and an Academy award for her unforgettable portrayal the Scarlett O'Hara in David O. Selznick's production of Gone with the Wind.

Early Life

Leigh was born Vivian mary Hartley top top November 5, 1913, in Darjeeling, India, to an English stockbroker and his irish wife. The household returned to England as soon as Hartley was 6 years old. A year later, the precocious Hartley announced come classmate Maureen O'Sullivan that she "was walk to it is in famous." She to be right, though her fame would eventually come under a various name.


As a teen, Vivian Hartley attended colleges in England, France, Italy and Germany, ending up being fluent in both French and Italian. She walk on to examine acting at the royal Academy the Dramatic Art, yet put she career in the interim on hold at age 19, when she married a lawyer called Leigh Holman and had his daughter. Instead of the "a" in her first name with the less generally used "e," Hartley used her husband's name to handmade a an ext glamorous phase name, Vivien Leigh.


Film and also Onstage Debuts

Leigh do both she onstage and also film debuts in 1935. She starred in the pat The Bash, which wasn't particularly successful but it permitted Leigh to make an impression on producer Sydney Carroll, who soon cast the actress in her first London play; and landed the lead role in the aptly title movie Things space Looking Up (1935).


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back Leigh was originally typecast as a fickle coquette, she began to explore an ext dynamic duties by doing shak spa plays at the Old Vic in London, England. There, she met and also fell in love with Laurence Olivier, a respected actor who, prefer Leigh, already happened to it is in married. The two quickly embarked ~ above a highly collaborative and inspired exhilaration relationship—not to cite a really public love affair.

'Gone v the Wind'

Around the same time, American manager George Cukor was searching for the perfect actress come play the lead function of Scarlett O'Hara in his film adaptation the Gone with the Wind. "The girl I pick must be own of the devil and charged through electricity," Cukor insisted at the time. An exceptional list that Hollywood's top actresses, including Katharine Hepburn and also Bette Davis, had actually long to be vying for the component by the moment Leigh, that was top top a two-week vacation in California, took and passed the screen test.


Casting a essentially unknown British theater actress in the role of a southerly belle struggling because that survival during the American Civil battle was risky to say the least—especially considering that Gone v the Wind to be already, even in pre-production, one of the most highly anticipated Hollywood images of every time. However, the decision paid off together the movie smashed box office records, and garnered 13 Academy award nominations and also eight wins—including one because that Leigh as best actress. Gone through the Wind remains among the many iconic images in cinema history.


Finally having actually secured divorces native their particular spouses, Leigh and Olivier married in 1940, cementing their standing as a powerhouse pair in the human being of show business. The pair ongoing to co-star in movies and plays, yet tried to stay out the the limelight, often taking division of number of years between films—this to be partly due to the deteriorating state that Leigh's psychological health, as increasingly severe bouts that manic depression strained her connection with Olivier and also made it complicated for she to perform.

Declining Health

Tragedy to win in 1944 when Leigh fell during a rehearsal for Caesar and Cleopatra and also suffered a miscarriage. Her wellness took a turn for the worse; she became increasingly rough while concurrently battling insomnia, bipolar disorder and a respiratory ailment that was at some point diagnosed together tuberculosis. Hoping for relief, Leigh underwent electroshock therapy, which was very rudimentary in ~ the time and also sometimes left her through burn clues on she temples. The wasn't long before she started to drink heavily.

Her increasingly troubled an individual life forced Leigh to take occasional division from occupational throughout the 1940s, however she ongoing to take it on countless high-profile roles, both on the stage and screen. Nobody could complement the an essential or advertisement success she had won for play O'Hara, however.


Continued Success

That adjusted in 1949 once Leigh won the part of Blanche Du Bois in a London production of Tennessee Williams's play, A Streetcar called Desire. After a successful run the lasted virtually a year, Leigh was cast in the exact same demanding duty in Elia Kazan's 1951 Hollywood film adaptation, in i m sorry she starred opposite Marlon Brando. She portrayal the Du Bois, a character struggling come hide a shattered psyche behind a facade of gentility, may have drawn on Leigh's real-life struggles with mental illness, and perhaps even added to them. The actress later on said that the year she invested inside the tortured spirit of Du Bois tipped she "into madness."


In the referee of countless critics, Leigh's acting in Streetcar surpassed also her star rotate in Gone v the Wind; she winner a 2nd Best Actress Oscar, and also a new York Film movie critics Award and a british Academy the Film and also Television arts Award, because that the part.

Soon after, Leigh made theater history by certification alongside Olivier in simultaneously London phase productions that Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and George boy name Shaw's Caesar and also Cleopatra—both of i beg your pardon were crucial successes.

Final Years and also Death

Despite this triumphs, bipolar disorder continued to take it a heavy toll ~ above Leigh. After another miscarriage, she had actually a breakdown in 1953, forcing her to retract from the filming that Elephant Walk and earning she a call for being difficult to job-related with. Additionally, her connection with Olivier became an ext and an ext tumultuous; in 1960, their troubled marriage ended in divorce.

After Olivier remarried and also started a new family, Leigh relocated in through a younger actor named Jack Merivale. The change of pace seemed to execute her good, as she re-emerged come take component in number of successful performances during the 1960s. In 1963, she headlined in a music adaptation of Tovarich and earned her a very first Tony Award. 2 years later, she starred in the Oscar-winning film Ship the Fools.

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Just before she began rehearsing for a London production of A breakable Balance in 1967, Leigh dropped seriously ill. A month passed prior to she finally succumbed to her tuberculosis, on July 8, 1967, in ~ the period of 53, in London, England. Marking a sad and premature finish to a career the was both tumultuous and triumphant, the London theater ar blacked out its lights because that a full hour in Leigh's honor.


In 2013, the Victoria and also Albert Museum in London to buy her an individual archives, which has her personal diaries and previously unseen photographs. The museum's director Martin Roth called UPI the the archive "not just represents Vivien Leigh's career, yet is likewise a fascinating insight into the theater and also social people that surrounded her." 

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