Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Vivien Leigh

Classical plays require more imagination and more general training to be able to do. That’s why I like playing Shakespeare better than anything else

Vivien Leigh

November 5, 1913, Darjeeling, India – July 8, 1967, Belgravia, London, United Kingdom


Vivien Leigh, Lady Olivier was a British actress who achieved motion picture immortality by playing two of American literature’s most celebrated Southern belles, Scarlett O’Hara and Blanche DuBois.

After her film debut in Things Are Looking Up (1934), she appeared in several more British “quota quickies” before making her first stage appearance in The Green Sash (1935).

Things Are Looking Up (1935)

During her initial burst of film stardom Leigh began an affair with British leading man Laurence Olivier, they would subsequently appear together on stage and screen, notably in Korda’s Fire Over England (1937) and 21 Days (1940).

Fire Over England (1937)

In 1938 Olivier and Leigh traveled to Hollywood, he to star in Samuel Goldwyn’s Wuthering Heights (1939), she to audition for the highly coveted role of Scarlett O’Hara in the David O. Selznick’s Gone with the Wind (1939).

Gone with the Wind (1939) You Need Kissing Badly

Much to the surprise of industry insiders, she won the role over hundreds of candidates. Her unforgettable screen portrayal of Mitchell’s resilient heroine earned her not only international popularity but also an Academy Award.

She also won the Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), a role she also played on stage in London’s West End.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Blanche Dubois

Vivien Leigh was a prolific stage performer, frequently in collaboration with her then-husband, Laurence Olivier, who directed her in several of her roles.


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