Way back in April of 2012, we wrote about one of the most beautiful actresses to ever grace the silver screen — Vivien Leigh.
That blog received a lot of attention, and in July of that year we printed a comment from reader Carole Heath in response to another reader, Kim Wilson.
Now, two years later, we’ve heard from another reader, Joanna Miranda Durrant, who’s just caught up with our reportage on Leigh and who has added her insight. (Maybe this is why we call it Classic Movie Chat.)
First let’s recall Carole Heath’s response to Kim Wilson’s observation:
I do agree with Kim Wilson about Vivien Leigh’s illness. Yes she should never have died in 1967 from TB as the illness was treatable then. She had suffered from TB in the 1940s, and had to rest for months during that time. Her manic depression (now called Bi-polar) was with her on and off for most of her life, sadly.
But quite honestly I think Laurence Olivier tried to help Vivien Leigh as best he could. I think there were many reasons why the marriage ended. Only they knew the real truth, I think.
Yes, Vivien Leigh lived with (actor) Jack Marivale after the split, and he was a calming influence on her where maybe Olivier wasn’t.
I read ‘Confessions of an Actor,’ the (1982 autobiography) by Olivier, and he was quite candid about his marriage to Vivien Leigh without being nasty or catty. But whenever you saw him in an interview and the subject of Vivien Leigh and their relationship came up, he didn’t really want to talk about it and got quite upset. You could hear it in his voice.
I am not taking his side, of course. He was very into his acting, that is what made him a good actor, I think. Vivien Leigh was also a good actor, much better than she was ever given credit for. Her Blanche in (‘Streetcar’) had such pathos, and she really made the part her own
Unfortunately the Oliviers had a love hate relationship like the Burtons; they loved each other but the marriage was so stormy. I don’t think Olivier or Vivien Leigh ever got over each other although they went different paths in life. He married (third and final wife) Joan Plowright and she took up with Jack Merivale.
I also think Vivien’s sexual demands on Olivier were to much for him to handle. As mentioned in this article she was very highly sexed. That could have also been to do with her bi-polar illness. What ever the reason the relationship ended. I think it was very sad. They looked so happy together but unfortunately the public persona was not the private one.
Good comment Carole. I think your comment is very apt regards VL and LO.
I actually met them once in the 1950’s when they where appearing at Stratford on Avon at the Shakespeare theatre. I asked VL backstage for her autograph she obliged without any fuss with much charm. She seemed very pleased I had asked for her autograph and not LO’s. She actually said to LO the lady asked for my autograph and not yours Larry she said this utterance with a smirk on her face.
I personally think there was a lot of competition and competitiveness between the couple. By the time VL met Jack Merivale and started a relationship it was a different type of coupling. Jack Merivale I think was a much more calming influence on VL.