Vivien Leigh
Actress
Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh, Lady Olivier was an English actress. She is best known for her performances as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for both. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked her as the sixteenth greatest movie star of all time. Lauded for her beauty, Leigh felt that it sometimes prevented her from being taken seriously as an actress.
Biography
Vivien Leigh's personal information overview.
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Sunnyside Women's Missionary Union visits Dunaway Gardens - Newnan Times-Herald
Google News - over 5 years
There also was a Patchwork Barn theater, and the Vivien Leigh Amphitheatre -- named in honor of the British actress chosen to star in "Gone With the Wind" -- remains. Drama and music are part of the Dunaway legacy. Visitors in its heyday included Walt
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Clarence Brown opens season with Hollywood back-lot tale - Knoxville News Sentinel
Google News - over 5 years
"He once sent a memo to Vivien Leigh, and it took her 10 days to respond because the memo weighed 10 pounds," says Friedman. "Moonlight" includes what cast members call "physical humor." Peanuts and peanut shells get tossed around the stage and maybe
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Cook's Corner: Blog begets a TV show for 'pioneer woman' - Longview Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
I channel Lucille Ball, Vivien Leigh and Ethel Merman. Welcome to my frontier!" Over the past five years at www.pioneerwoman.com she has chronicled her life as a city girl who became a rancher's wife and mother of four in Oklahoma; it's a wonderful
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Preview of Laurie Weeks' Zipper Mouth: Gay, Obsessed, Addicted - Autostraddle
Google News - over 5 years
It didn't seem likely and this was part of my pleasure, like the agony of fixating on a dead movie star the way I'd become obsessed at age fifteen with the long-decomposed actress Vivien Leigh, aka Scarlett O'Hara, and her later, more bummed-out
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"Vivien": 90 Minutes Of Doom And Gloom At Rogue Machine Theatre - Santa Monica Mirror
Google News - over 5 years
Vivien Leigh is clearly one of the most beautiful, legendary actors of the last century with her characterizations of Scarlett O'Hara in the seminal “Gone with the Wind” and Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” earning her two Academy Awards
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The Spotlight: She channels an icon in 'Vivien' - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
From Juliet to Scarlett O'Hara, Vivien Leigh shocked audiences with her combination of beauty and ferocity. Now Rick Foster's one-woman play explores the woman behind the Southern accent: Set in 1967, a few days before Leigh died of tuberculosis at age
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Judith Chapman, in Rick Foster's Vivien; Deborah Zoe Laufer's End Days; Roger ... - LA Weekly (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
(Amy Nicholson) VIVIEN Daytime drama star Judith Chapman adopts the troubled persona of Vivien Leigh in Rick Foster's hagiographic one-woman bio-play in its Los Angeles premiere. Foster attempts to illustrate a luminous career undermined by mental
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Theater Review: Rogue Machine's 'Vivien' at Theatre Theater - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
Vivien Leigh, leaving nothing to chance, picked all of the above. Her Oscar-winning turns as Scarlett O'Hara and Blanche DuBois, stormy marriage to Laurence Olivier, manic depression, electroshock treatments and fatal tuberculosis, not to mention her
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ARTS, BRIEFLY; 'Streetcar' Casting News
NYTimes - over 5 years
Following in the footsteps of Vivien Leigh, Cate Blanchett and Marge Simpson, Nicole Ari Parker (''Soul Food'') has landed the role of Blanche DuBois in the coming Broadway production of Tennessee Williams's classic drama ''A Streetcar Named Desire,'' the producers announced Sunday. It will be Ms. Parker's Broadway debut; she previously performed
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10 Famous Film Couples - Screen Junkies
Google News - over 5 years
Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable A film classic, “Gone with the Wind” epitomized the class of old Hollywood, making Gable and Leigh one of the most famous film couples. Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara and Gable's Rhett Butler was a doomed love affair set in the
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How We Met: Chipo Chung & Bonnie Greer - The Independent
Google News - over 5 years
We both have a love for classical Britain – the legend of Rada, from Vivien Leigh to Kenneth Branagh – and a shared love of the British Museum. We've had some thrilling experiences finding strange artefacts there and, say, discussing our shared love of
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All between 'Friends,' and it works - Ashland Daily Tidings
Google News - over 5 years
In the 1939 film, "Gone With the Wind," Vivien Leigh asks Clark Gable, "What shall I do? Where shall I go?" He turns and says, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." That singular word, "damn," evoked gasps from audiences and represented a sea change
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'America' the beautiful - New York Post
Google News - over 5 years
Almost apologetically breaking into a German POW camp in WWII Austria to save some Allied troops, a brawny rescuer who until recently was as strapping as Vivien Leigh is asked to identify himself. “Um, Captain America,” he says
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Rogue Machine Presents VIVIEN, 8/12 - 9/4 - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
Stage and television series regular Judith Chapman portrays the fragile and mercurial movie star Vivien Leigh in the Los Angeles premiere of Rick Foster's critically acclaimed one-woman play, Vivien. Produced by The Troubadours of Daytime,
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VIVIEN LEIGH KINKY SECRETS - The National Enquirer
Google News - over 5 years
Brit thesp VIVIEN LEIGH who was world renowned as Scarlett O'Hara in classic Gone With the Wind was a bisexual adulteress who picked up male prosties, preferring "rough trade", book claims. According to bio Damn YOU, Scarlett O'Hara by Dawn Porter and
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Vivien Leigh
    FIFTIES
  • 1967
    Age 53
    On the night of 7 July 1967, Merivale left her as usual at their Eaton Square flat, to perform in a play, and returned home just before midnight to find her asleep.
    More Details Hide Details About 30 minutes later, he returned to the bedroom and discovered her body on the floor. She had been attempting to walk to the bathroom and, as her lungs filled with liquid, they collapsed and she suffocated. Merivale first contacted her family and the next day was able to reach Olivier, who was receiving treatment for prostate cancer in a nearby hospital. In his autobiography, Olivier described his "grievous anguish" as he immediately travelled to Leigh's residence, to find that Merivale had moved her body onto the bed. Olivier paid his respects, and "stood and prayed for forgiveness for all the evils that had sprung up between us", before helping Merivale make funeral arrangements; Olivier stayed until her body was removed from the flat. On the public announcement of her death on 8 July, the lights of every theatre in central London were extinguished for an hour. A Catholic service for Leigh was held at St. Mary's Church, Cadogan Street, London. Her funeral was attended by the luminaries of British stage and screen. According to the provisions of her will, Leigh was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium and her ashes were scattered on the lake at her summer home, Tickerage Mill, near Blackboys, East Sussex, England. A memorial service was held at St Martin-in-the-Fields, with a final tribute read by John Gielgud. In 1968 Leigh became the first actress honoured in the United States, by "The Friends of the Libraries at the University of Southern California".
    In May 1967 Leigh was rehearsing to appear with Michael Redgrave in Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance when her tuberculosis recurred.
    More Details Hide Details Following several weeks of rest, she seemed to recover.
  • FORTIES
  • 1963
    Age 49
    Though she was still beset by bouts of depression, she continued to work in the theatre and, in 1963, won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in Tovarich.
    More Details Hide Details She also appeared in the films The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) and Ship of Fools (1965). Leigh's last screen appearance in Ship of Fools was both a triumph and emblematic of her illnesses taking root. Producer and director Stanley Kramer who ended up with the film, planned to star Leigh but was initially unaware of the fragile mental and physical health of his star. In later recounting her work, Kramer remembered her courage in taking on the difficult role, "She was ill, and the courage to go ahead, the courage to make the film – was almost unbelievable." Leigh's performance was tinged by paranoia and resulted in outbursts that marred her relationship with other actors, although both Simone Signoret and Lee Marvin were sympathetic and understanding. In one unusual instance during the attempted rape scene, Leigh became distraught and hit Marvin so hard with a spiked shoe, that it marked his face. Leigh won the L'Étoile de Cristal for her performance in a leading role in Ship of Fools.
  • 1961
    Age 47
    Merivale joined her for a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Latin America that lasted from July 1961 until May 1962, and Leigh enjoyed positive reviews without sharing the spotlight with Olivier.
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  • 1960
    Age 46
    In 1960 she and Olivier divorced and Olivier soon married actress Joan Plowright.
    More Details Hide Details In his autobiography, Olivier discussed the years of strain they had experienced because of Leigh's illness: "Throughout her possession by that uncannily evil monster, manic depression, with its deadly ever-tightening spirals, she retained her own individual canniness – an ability to disguise her true mental condition from almost all except me, for whom she could hardly be expected to take the trouble." Merivale proved to be a stabilising influence for Leigh, but despite her apparent contentment, she was quoted by Radie Harris as confiding that she "would rather have lived a short life with Larry Olivier than face a long one without him". Her first husband, Leigh Holman, also spent considerable time with her.
  • 1959
    Age 45
    In 1959, when she achieved a success with the Noël Coward comedy Look After Lulu!
    More Details Hide Details The Times critic described her as "beautiful, delectably cool and matter of fact, she is mistress of every situation".
  • 1958
    Age 44
    In 1958 considering her marriage to be over, Leigh began a relationship with the actor Jack Merivale, who knew of Leigh's medical condition and assured Olivier he would care for her.
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  • 1956
    Age 42
    In 1956 Leigh took the lead role in the Noël Coward play South Sea Bubble, but became pregnant and withdrew from the production.
    More Details Hide Details Several weeks later, she miscarried and entered a period of depression that lasted for months. She joined Olivier for a European tour of Titus Andronicus, but the tour was marred by Leigh's frequent outbursts against Olivier and other members of the company. After their return to London, her former husband, Leigh Holman, who could still exert a strong influence on her, stayed with the Oliviers and helped calm her.
  • 1955
    Age 41
    In 1955 Leigh starred in Anatole Litvak's film The Deep Blue Sea; co-star Kenneth More felt he had poor chemistry with Leigh during the filming.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1953
    Age 39
    In 1953 Leigh recovered sufficiently to play The Sleeping Prince with Olivier; and, in 1955, they performed a season at Stratford-upon-Avon in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and Titus Andronicus.
    More Details Hide Details They played to capacity houses and attracted generally good reviews, Leigh's health seemingly stable. John Gielgud directed Twelfth Night and wrote, " perhaps I will still make a good thing of that divine play, especially if he will let me pull her little ladyship (who is brainier than he but not a born actress) out of her timidity and safeness. He dares too confidently... but she hardly dares at all and is terrified of overreaching her technique and doing anything that she has not killed the spontaneity of by overpractice."
    In January 1953, Leigh travelled to Ceylon to film Elephant Walk with Peter Finch.
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  • 1951
    Age 37
    In 1951 Leigh and Laurence Olivier performed two plays about Cleopatra, William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra, alternating the play each night and winning good reviews.
    More Details Hide Details They took the productions to New York, where they performed a season at the Ziegfeld Theatre into 1952. The reviews there were also mostly positive, but the critic Kenneth Tynan angered them when he suggested that Leigh's was a mediocre talent that forced Olivier to compromise his own. Tynan's diatribe almost precipitated another collapse; Leigh, terrified of failure and intent on achieving greatness, dwelt on his comments and ignored the positive reviews of other critics.
  • 1949
    Age 35
    When the West End production of Streetcar opened in October 1949, J. B. Priestley denounced the play and Leigh's performance; and the critic Kenneth Tynan, who was to make a habit of dismissing her stage performances, commented that Leigh was badly miscast because British actors were "too well-bred to emote effectively on stage".
    More Details Hide Details Olivier and Leigh were chagrined that part of the commercial success of the play lay in audience members attending to see what they believed would be a salacious story, rather than the Greek tragedy that they envisioned. The play also had strong supporters, among them Noël Coward, who described Leigh as "magnificent". After 326 performances, Leigh finished her run, and she was soon engaged to reprise her role as Blanche DuBois in the film version. Her irreverent and often bawdy sense of humour allowed her to establish a rapport with her co-star Marlon Brando, but she had an initial difficulty in working with director Elia Kazan, who was displeased with the direction that Olivier had taken in shaping the character of Blanche. Kazan had favoured Jessica Tandy and later, Olivia de Havilland over Leigh, but knew she had been a success on the London stage as Blanche. He later commented that he did not hold her in high regard as an actress; "she had a small talent," but, as work progressed, he became "full of admiration" for "the greatest determination to excel of any actress I've known. She'd have crawled over broken glass if she thought it would help her performance." Leigh found the role gruelling and commented to the Los Angeles Times, "I had nine months in the theatre of Blanche DuBois. Now she's in command of me." Olivier accompanied her to Hollywood where he was to co-star with Jennifer Jones in William Wyler's Carrie (1952).
  • 1948
    Age 34
    Leigh's romantic relationship with Finch began in 1948, and waxed and waned for several years, ultimately flickering out as her mental condition deteriorated.
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    By 1948 Olivier was on the board of directors for the Old Vic Theatre, and he and Leigh embarked on a six-month tour of Australia and New Zealand to raise funds for the theatre.
    More Details Hide Details Olivier played the lead in Richard III and also performed with Leigh in The School for Scandal and The Skin of Our Teeth. The tour was an outstanding success and, although Leigh was plagued with insomnia and allowed her understudy to replace her for a week while she was ill, she generally withstood the demands placed upon her, with Olivier noting her ability to "charm the press". Members of the company later recalled several quarrels between the couple as Olivier was increasingly resentful of the demands placed on him during the tour. The most dramatic altercation occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand, when her shoes were not found and Leigh refused to go onstage without shoes. An exhausted and exasperated Olivier screamed an obscenity at her and slapped her face, and a devastated Leigh slapped him in return, dismayed that he would hit her publicly. Subsequently, she made her way to the stage in borrowed pumps, and in seconds, had "dried her tears and smiled brightly onstage". By the end of the tour, both were exhausted and ill. Olivier told a journalist, "You may not know it, but you are talking to a couple of walking corpses." Later, he would observe that he "lost Vivien" in Australia.
  • 1947
    Age 33
    In 1947 Olivier was knighted and Leigh accompanied him to Buckingham Palace for the investiture.
    More Details Hide Details She became Lady Olivier. After their divorce, according to the style granted to the divorced wife of a knight, she became known socially as Vivien, Lady Olivier.
  • 1946
    Age 32
    With her doctor's approval, Leigh was well enough to resume acting in 1946, starring in a successful London production of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth; but her films of this period, Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) and Anna Karenina (1948), were not great commercial successes.
    More Details Hide Details All British films in this period were adversely affected by a Hollywood boycott of British films.
  • 1944
    Age 30
    In 1944 she was diagnosed as having tuberculosis in her left lung and spent several weeks in hospital before appearing to have recovered.
    More Details Hide Details Leigh was filming Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) when she discovered she was pregnant, then had a miscarriage. Leigh temporarily fell into a deep depression that hit its low point, with her falling to the floor, sobbing in an hysterical fit. This was the first of many major bipolar disorder breakdowns. Olivier later came to recognise the symptoms of an impending episode – several days of hyperactivity followed by a period of depression and an explosive breakdown, after which Leigh would have no memory of the event, but would be acutely embarrassed and remorseful.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1943
    Age 29
    The Oliviers returned to Britain, and in 1943, Leigh toured through North Africa as part of a revue for the armed forces stationed in the region.
    More Details Hide Details Leigh performed for troops before falling ill with a persistent cough and fevers.
  • 1940
    Age 26
    On 31 August 1940, Olivier and Leigh were married at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, in a ceremony attended only by their hosts, Ronald and Benita Colman and witnesses, Katharine Hepburn and Garson Kanin.
    More Details Hide Details Leigh had made a screen test and hoped to co-star with Olivier in Rebecca, which was to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock with Olivier in the leading role. After viewing Leigh's screen test, David Selznick noted that "she doesn't seem right as to sincerity or age or innocence", a view shared by Hitchcock and Leigh's mentor, George Cukor. Selznick observed that she had shown no enthusiasm for the part until Olivier had been confirmed as the lead actor so he cast Joan Fontaine. He refused to allow her to join Olivier in Pride and Prejudice (1940), and Greer Garson played the role Leigh had wanted for herself. Waterloo Bridge (1940) was to have starred Olivier and Leigh; however, Selznick replaced Olivier with Robert Taylor, then at the peak of his success as one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's most popular male stars. Her top billing reflected her status in Hollywood, and the film was popular with audiences and critics. The Oliviers mounted a stage production of Romeo and Juliet for Broadway. The New York press publicised the adulterous nature of the beginning of Olivier and Leigh's relationship and questioned their ethics in not returning to the UK to help with the war effort.
    In February 1940, Jill Esmond agreed to divorce Laurence Olivier, and Leigh Holman agreed to divorce Vivien, although they maintained a strong friendship for the rest of Leigh's life.
    More Details Hide Details Esmond was granted custody of Tarquin, her son with Olivier. Holman was granted custody of Suzanne, his daughter with Leigh.
    To the public at the time, Leigh was strongly identified with her second husband Laurence Olivier, to whom she was married from 1940 to 1960.
    More Details Hide Details Leigh and Olivier starred together in many stage productions, with Olivier often directing, and in three films. She earned a reputation for being difficult to work with, as for much of her adult life she suffered from bipolar disorder as well as recurrent bouts of chronic tuberculosis, first diagnosed in the mid-1940s, which ultimately claimed her life at the age of 53. Although her career had periods of inactivity, in 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Leigh as the 16th greatest female movie star of classic Hollywood cinema.
  • 1938
    Age 24
    In February 1938, Leigh made a request to Myron Selznick that she be considered to play Scarlett O'Hara.
    More Details Hide Details David O. Selznick, who watched her performances that month in Fire Over England and A Yank at Oxford, thought her to be excellent, but, in no way a possible Scarlett, as she was "too British". Leigh travelled to Los Angeles, however, to be with Olivier and to try to convince David Selznick that she was Scarlett. When Myron Selznick, who also represented Olivier, met Leigh, he felt that she possessed the qualities his brother was searching for. According to legend, Myron Selznick took Leigh and Olivier to the set where the burning of the Atlanta Depot scene was being filmed and stage-managed an encounter, where he introduced Leigh, derisively addressing his younger brother, "Hey, genius, meet your Scarlett O'Hara." The following day, Leigh read a scene for Selznick, who organised a screen test with director George Cukor, and wrote to his wife, "She's the Scarlett dark horse and looks damn good. Not for anyone's ear but your own: it's narrowed down to Paulette Goddard, Jean Arthur, Joan Bennett and Vivien Leigh". The director, George Cukor, concurred and praised Leigh's "incredible wildness"; she secured the role of Scarlett soon after.
  • 1935
    Age 21
    She was cast in the play The Mask of Virtue, directed by Sidney Carroll in 1935 and received excellent reviews, followed by interviews and newspaper articles.
    More Details Hide Details One such article was from the Daily Express, in which the interviewer noted "a lightning change came over her face", which was the first public mention of the rapid changes in mood which had become characteristic of her. John Betjeman, the future Poet Laureate, described her as "the essence of English girlhood". Korda attended her opening night performance, admitted his error, and signed her to a film contract. She continued with the play; but, when Korda moved it to a larger theatre, Leigh was found to be unable to project her voice adequately or to hold the attention of so large an audience, and the play closed soon after. In the playbill, Carroll had revised the spelling of her first name to "Vivien". In 1960 Leigh recalled her ambivalence towards her first experience of critical acclaim and sudden fame, commenting, "some critics saw fit to be as foolish as to say that I was a great actress. And I thought, that was a foolish, wicked thing to say, because it put such an onus and such a responsibility onto me, which I simply wasn't able to carry. And it took me years to learn enough to live up to what they said for those first notices. I find it so stupid. I remember the critic very well and have never forgiven him."
  • TEENAGE
  • 1933
    Age 19
    On 12 October 1933 in London, she gave birth to a daughter, Suzanne, later Mrs. Robin Farrington.
    More Details Hide Details Leigh's friends suggested she take a small role as a schoolgirl in the film Things Are Looking Up, which was her film debut, albeit uncredited as an extra. She engaged an agent, John Gliddon, who believed that "Vivian Holman" was not a suitable name for an actress. After rejecting his many suggestions, she took "Vivian Leigh" as her professional name. Gliddon recommended her to Alexander Korda as a possible film actress, but Korda rejected her as lacking potential.
  • 1932
    Age 18
    Despite his disapproval of "theatrical people", they married on 20 December 1932, and she terminated her studies at RADA; her attendance and interest in acting having already waned after meeting Holman.
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  • 1931
    Age 17
    Vivian met Herbert Leigh Holman, known as Leigh Holman, a barrister 13 years her senior, in 1931.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1917
    Age 3
    In 1917, Ernest Hartley was transferred to Bangalore as an officer in the Indian Cavalry, while Gertrude and Vivian stayed in Ootacamund.
    More Details Hide Details At the age of three, young Vivian made her first stage appearance for her mother's amateur theatre group, reciting "Little Bo Peep". Gertrude Hartley tried to instil an appreciation of literature in her daughter and introduced her to the works of Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling, as well as stories of Greek mythology and Indian folklore. At the age of six, Vivian was sent by her mother to the Convent of the Sacred Heart (now Woldingham School) then situated in Roehampton, southwest London, from Loreto Convent, Darjeeling. One of her friends there was future actress Maureen O'Sullivan, two years her senior, to whom Vivian expressed her desire to become "a great actress". She was removed from the school by her father, and travelling with her parents for four years, she attended schools in Europe, notably in Dinard, Biarritz, San Remo and Paris, becoming fluent in both French and Italian. The family returned to Britain in 1931. She attended A Connecticut Yankee, one of O'Sullivan's films playing in London's West End and told her parents of her ambitions to become an actress. Shortly after, her father enrolled Vivian at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London.
  • 1913
    Born
    Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley on 5 November 1913 in British India on the campus of St. Paul's School, Darjeeling.
    More Details Hide Details She was the only child of Ernest Richard Hartley, an English broker, and his wife, Gertrude Mary Frances (née Yackjee; she also used her mother's maiden name of Robinson). Her father was born in Scotland in 1882, while her mother, a devout Roman Catholic, was born in Darjeeling in 1888 and may have been of Irish and Parsi Indian ancestry. Gertrude's parents, who lived in India, were Michael John Yackjee (born 1840), a man of independent means, and Mary Teresa Robinson (born 1856), who was born to an Irish family killed during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and grew up in an orphanage, where she met Yackjee; they married in 1872 and had five children, of whom Gertrude was the youngest. Ernest and Gertrude Hartley were married in 1912 in Kensington, London.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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