When Vivien died, West End theaters in London dimmed their house lights in memory of one of Britain’s greatest actresses.
November 5 , 1913
Vivian Mary Hartley
July 7, 1967
Vivien Leigh was born in Darjeeling, India. From the ages of six to 15 she was educated in English convent schools, where she showed aptitude for the performing arts. Inspired by the example of her schoolmate Maureen O'Sullivan, she embarked upon an acting career, enrolling at London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1932.
Vivien's stage debut was in The Green Sash, but it was her performance as Henriette Duquesnoy in The Mask of Virtue (1935) that earned her critical acclaim. She married barrister Herbert Leigh Holman, whose name she used to create her stage name.
In 1937, she met and made her first screen appearance opposite the rising star, Laurence Olivier, in Fire Over England. In 1938 Olivier and Leigh traveled to Hollywood, he to star in Wuthering Heights (1939), she to audition for the highly coveted role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). The role won Leigh her first Oscar, after which she kept her screen appearances to a minimum, preferring to devote her time to Olivier, who would become her second husband in 1940.
Pregnant during production of Caesar and Cleopatra in 1944 (released 1946), Leigh suffered an on-set accident that resulted in a miscarriage. In 1944, the actress was diagnosed as having a tuberculosis patch on her left lung.
In the fifties Leigh made a two-fold success as Tennessee Williams's Blanche Du Bois, first under Olivier's direction on the London stage. And later in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) directed byEliah Kazan, and withMarlon Brandoin which her performance gained her another Oscar.
She continued to act on stage with Olivier at the Old Vic in London.
By the early 1960s Vivien had suffered two miscarriages, and the severity of the tuberculosis was incapacitating. She starred in a 1963 Broadway musical adaptation of <em>Tovarich</em>, a production for which Leigh won a Tony Award. She was preparing to star in the London production of A Delicate Balance when she was found dead from tuberculosis in her London apartment in 1967.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Waterloo Bridge (1940)
Ship of Fools (1965)
That Hamilton Woman (1941)