She was a two-time Academy Award Winner, a feminine, gorgeous and refined star of her day, and she still has millions of fans.
Hello everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here to comb through some of the mail we received about Vivien Leigh. We love to hear from our readers.
In response to our April 3 blog, Vivien Leigh — What A (Split) Personality — Kim Wilson wrote: Leigh had the really bad misfortune of being in love with one of the biggest asses ever. When the going got tough he left. How does a rich and connected person die of TB in 1967? Where were her handlers? (We should clarify that “one of the biggest asses ever” was then husband, Sir Laurence Olivier.)
Our April 3 blog also included this:
In the recently published memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, coauthor Scotty Bowers, at the time a bartender-caterer of celebrity parties, claims to have had an assignation with Vivien in a guest house on the estate of her close friend, director George Cukor (as 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire was going into production).
She was a hot, hot lady, reports Bowers. She was very sexual and very excitable…That night we screwed as though the survival of the world depended on it…She had orgasm after orgasm and each one noisier than the last.
OK. Carole Heath writes more recently both in response to Kim Wilson’s observation, and the April 3 blog’s references to Leigh’s sexuality:
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 1940’s, and had to rest for months during that time. Her manic depression or 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.
Great comments. Thanks.