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Famous Like Me > Actress > L > Vivien Leigh

Profile of Vivien Leigh on Famous Like Me

Name: Vivien Leigh  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 5th November 1913
Place of Birth: Darjeeling, West Bengal, British India. [now India]
Profession: Actress
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Vivien Leigh (1913-1967)

Vivien Leigh (November 5, 1913 – July 7, 1967) was an English actress who was born Vivian Mary Hartley in Darjeeling, India to Ernest Hartley (who was of English parentage) and Gertrude Robinson Yackje (of Irish descent). She and her parents later moved to England, where young Leigh grew up. She attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Roehampton, England, along with fellow actress-to-be Maureen O'Sullivan. She then went on to graduate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

She was married in 1932 to Herbert Leigh Holman, and they had a daughter, Suzanne, in 1933.

Leigh's career began on the stage. Her first play was The Green Sash, though it was Mask of Virtue that really brought her to stardom. In 1935, she began her film career with such movies as The Village Squire, Things Are Looking Up, and Look Up and Laugh.

In 1937, Leigh starred in four films: Fire Over England, 21 Days opposite future husband Laurence Olivier (which was shelved until 1940), Dark Journey and Storm in a Teacup, opposite Rex Harrison. In 1938 Vivien gave two of the best performances of her movie career: the flirtatious Elza in A Yank at Oxford and the marvelous and ambitious street performer Libby in St. Martin's Lane, which co-starred Charles Laughton. Leigh is better known for her role as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she won her first Academy Award for Best Actress. The film's producers went through an exhaustive talent search to fill the much-coveted role; actresses competing for the role opposite Clark Gable included Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Tallulah Bankhead, Joan Bennett, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Paulette Goddard, Jean Harlow, Olivia de Havilland, Susan Hayward, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Norma Shearer, Barbara Stanwyck, and Margaret Sullavan. Producer David O. Selznick had secretly selected Leigh for the role after seeing her in the MGM film A Yank at Oxford, but told no one until late 1938, when filming began.

In 1940, Leigh arranged for a divorce from Holman and married Olivier, with whom she had been having a highly publicized relationship for years. At the time, both were married, Olivier to actress Jill Esmond, who was pregnant when the affair began.

In 1944, Leigh was diagnosed as having a tuberculosis patch on her left lung. Though she continued her career with such plays as Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, the 1945 film Caesar and Cleopatra, and the 1948 epic film Anna Karenina, her illness was getting worse. In 1952, however, Leigh won a second Academy Award for her portrayal the previous year of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.

By the early 1960s Leigh had suffered two miscarriages, and the severity of the tuberculosis was incapacitating. She had also been plagued by manic-depression for some time, which was believed to be a factor in the failure to cure her ailment. She received shock therapy in London for the depression. In 1960, she and Olivier divorced on supposedly friendly terms, despite the reported volatility in their marriage, and Leigh insisted on keeping the title Lady Olivier until her death. Leigh continued to keep a framed photograph of him on her bedside table, even while living with her companion, actor Jack Merivale.

The actress died of chronic tuberculosis in her London home at the age of 53, survived by her daughter, grandchildren, and her own mother, Gertrude Hartley, a devout Roman Catholic who had to settle for a Requiem Mass rather than a Mass of Christian Burial.

Leigh was cremated, and her ashes were scattered on the lake at Tickerage Mill pond, near Blackboys, Sussex, London.

Leigh has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6773 Hollywood Blvd.


  • Ship of Fools (1965)
  • The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1962)
  • The Deep Blue Sea (1955)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  • Anna Karenina (1948)
  • Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)
  • That Hamilton Woman (1941)
  • Waterloo Bridge (1940)
  • Gone with the Wind (1939)
  • A Yank at Oxford (1938)
  • St.Martin's Lane, aka Sidewalks of London (1938)
  • Fire Over England (1937)
  • Dark Journey (1937)
  • Storm in a Teacup (1937)
  • 21 Days (1940) (filmed in 1937)
  • The Village Squire (1935)
  • Things Are Looking Up (1935)
  • Look Up and Laugh (1935)
  • Gentleman's Agreement (1935)

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Vivien Leigh