Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vivien and Olivier

from the amazing viv and larry tumblr..

Show business royalty and celebrity power couple Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh had a tremendous and intense love affair which was unfortunately plagued with hardships.  Although they did appear on film together, they were better known for their pairing on the stage.  Vivien was a huge admirer of Laurence and his work and when they met during Vivien's stint in Mask of Virtue, there was instant heat and chemistry, however they were both married at the time.  Even though they were involved with other people at the time, Vivien and Laurence eventually lived together for a time before their spouses gave them the divorces they wanted.  They married in 1940 in a small ceremony and their relationship was on of mutual respect and admiration as Laurence became a mentor to Vivien and Vivien brought him alive.

They were dubbed the "King and Queen of the theatre" and would act together in such plays as, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Caesar and Cleopatra, Richard III, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra and The Sleeping Prince.  Apart from being successful stage stars, they were popular with film audiences too.  Who else could make a better match than off screen but Laurence who played Heathcliff and Vivien who was Scarlett O'Hara? 

During their marriage it was soon discovered that Vivien suffered from Bipolar Disorder which would cause severe mood swings, depression and violence.  Her mental and physical health issues, which were a culmination of several miscarriages, working to the point of exhaustion, contracting tuberculosis and being in the shadow of her husband, lead Vivien to have a nervous breakdown.  She was then admitted to a mental hospital where she received shock treatments for several years.  text via. 

Their marriage was, as a result, in dissolution, especially after estrangement and with Vivien cheating on her husband with Peter Finch. The two finally seperated in 1960.

Based on their marriage and its eventual demise, the movie The VIPs starring none other than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

THE VIPS: Trapped in the VIP Lounge at Heathrow, his flight grounded by fog, Rattigan imagined the lives of fellow stranded passengers and the dramas behind them being there. When he arrived in America he sold his imaginings to MGM as the scenario for this film. The central story is based on Vivien Leigh who, attempting to leave her husband, Laurence Olivier, for her lover Peter Finch, was thwarted by fog at Heathrow. image and text via.

A few interesting facts about the beautiful Vivien Leigh..

1. As a publicity maneuver, fans of Gone With the Wind (the book) were asked to vote by ballot as to who should play Scarlett in the movie. Out of hundreds of ballots, Vivien Leigh received one vote.
2. After Gone With the Wind premiered, The New York Times summed up how perfect she’d been for the role: “Miss Leigh’s Scarlett has vindicated the absurd talent quest that indirectly turned her up. She is so perfectly designed for the part by art and nature that any other actress in the role would be inconceivable.
3. Tuberculosis, from which Leigh had also suffered for years, was the ultimate cause of her death.
4. Leigh reportedly had disproportionately large hands, and wore gloves frequently to cover them up. (Leigh was 5’3″)

5. Vivien Leigh was 25 when she filmed Gone With the Wind. The actress who played her mother was 28.
6. When she began working with a talent agent at the beginning of her career, her married name was Vivian Holman. Her agent wanted her to change her name to “April Morn.” She instead chose Vivien (changed spelling) Leigh, after her husband Herbert Leigh Holman.

7. Both Scarlett O’Hara’s and Vivien Leigh’s parents were French and Irish.  all text and more factual tidbits about Vivien here.

these images via

image and text via

The cover image for this issue was taken by famed LIFE photographer Philippe Halsman to commemorate the Oliviers’ joint theatrical venture playing in both Antony and Cleopatra and Caesar and Cleopatra on alternating nights in New York, 1952.