Vivien Leigh Would Have Been 100 Today

    November 5, 2013
    Lacy Langley
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If Vivien Leigh were alive, she would have turned 100 today!

The beautiful actress was best know as Scarlett (Skah-leht, if you remember…) O’Hara from “Gone With the Wind”, the movie that debuted in 1939. The movie is a classic that is still enjoyed by audiences today.

She was also known for her role as Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire”. She won Academy Awards for both performances, and was immensely respected in early Hollywood. She was also incredibly prolific on Broadway and in London.

However, as the world celebrates the accomplishments of the great actress, born Vivian Mary Hartley in 1913, her stepson, Tarquin Olivier, son of Lawrence Olivier, told the Daily Mail that being a mother was not one of them.

“She treated me like an equal. She wasn’t intended by her nature to be a mother, any more than my father was to be a father. The purpose of her life was her love of Larry,’ he said. He doesn’t blame her and spoke quite fondly of her as his stepmother.

He added, “I didn’t have a crush on Vivien – a crush is sexy. I simply loved her – she was great fun, very witty and very tender to me as a little boy.”

Olivier went on to say that Leigh suffered from manic depression after suffering a miscarriage in 1945, and struggled with it for years. “It’s a terrible illness that makes you hate the person you love,” says Tarquin. “And I remember the scars on her forehead left by the electric shock treatment the doctors gave her.”

Her mood swings and severe depression finally did in her 20-year marriage to Olivier in 1960,and he remarried actress Joan Plowright, which devastated her at first. However, Vivien was not to be kept down for long. She eventually found love again with actor Jack Merivale. But it was not to last. Sadly Vivien Leigh passed away in 1967 at the age of 53 from tuberculosis.

Even though her career was cut short, as her life was, she remains one of the most fascinating figures of early Hollywood and will always be remembered and respected.

Image via wikimedia commons

  • michael

    There must be a mistake. The article says her marriage to Olivier ended in 1967, but also that she died in 1963. Unless, Larry kept her around for a few years after she died, one of the dates is wrong.

  • Louis Helman

    Michael is exactly right!. Lacy Langley is grossly inaccurate on the dates listed in her article. Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier divorced in 1960 (not 1967!), and Leigh died in 1967 (not 1963!)at the age of 53. I’m surprised that Ms. Langley didn’t check her dates more carefully before posting her article.

  • Lacy Langley

    I did get the dates wrong, and I apologize! Must have been all those 3’s and 7’s. I appreciate you bringing that to my attention. I’m surprised I didn’t catch that, since I really enjoyed writing this article. What a fascinating woman! Thank you.