Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh were two of the biggest stars of their generation. While starring together in the film Fire Over England, the pair became involved in an affair. Both married at the time, though they left their respective spouses for each other. Despite married for nearly 20 years, Laurence and Vivien’s relationship have troubled. Vivien suffered from mental health issues, and Laurence Olivier claimed one of Vivien’s most memorable roles exacerbated them. Join Facts Verse as we explore why Laurence Olivier felt Vivien Leigh lost herself after this role.
When Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh started their romance, they were already two of Hollywood’s biggest stars. They had to keep their romance a secret since they both married to other people. When they are finally able to reveal their romance to the public and become husband and wife. They become one of the most powerful couples in the entertainment industry. They worked together professionally, though they didn’t always get along. Their marriage is trouble but their relationship starts like a whirlwind romance that is head over heels with the other.
Vivien Leigh is born in India to British colonialists and first appearance on the stage at the age of 3. That appearance saw a girl singing a nursery rhyme on stage at the amateur theater company where her mother performs. At the age of six, Vivien sent to London to attend boarding school. It wasn’t long after this that she began dreaming of becoming a star.
Vivien had decided that she wanted to become an actress when she grew up when she was still very young. She began pursuing this goal vehemently, enrolling in a prestigious drama school at 18. Vivien attends the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, soon into the school that changes her heart. She meets Herbert Leigh Holman, and he thinks that Vivien’s dreams of becoming a star are silly. When Vivien married Herbert, she quit attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Soon after this, she gave birth to a daughter. A year later, she reignited her dreams of becoming a star and resumed performing. She began taking roles both on stage and in films, and eventually broke out as a major Hollywood star!
While Vivien learns to perform from her mother, who is an amateur actress. Laurence Olivier learns to perform from his father, who is a priest. Laurence claims to learn good dramatic skills from studying his father while he is performing his sermons. His father’s saw his venerated speaking role at the church, Laurence saw a future on the stage. He starts performing at his school when he is 10 years old, and his family believes he is star potential.
Once Laurence come of age, he studies acting for a short time before beginning to perform with a repertory company. It was during his time performing with this company that he met the woman that would become his first wife. This woman named Jill Esmond. Laurence and Jill wed in 1932. Though Laurence shared later in his life that he believed that he and Jill were never really in love. In fact, many have suggested that Jill may have been a lesbian!
It was during the mid-1930s that Laurence Olivier first caught the eye of Vivien Leigh. She caught him performing at the theater with a friend. And mesmerized by the actor’s famously physical brand of performance that she instantly assumed that he would be just as physical of a lover. Vivien would go on to find out that this wasn’t quite the case; as Laurence could never quite keep her physically satisfied during their long relationship. However, the two certainly still got a lot out of each other during the early days of their relationship. They began writing each other letters, even though they both married to other people.
According to one of Vivien’s friends, the actress claimed on the first day she saw Laurence Oliver on stage that she was going to marry the actor. When they casted together as lovers in the 1936 feature Fire Over England; they couldn’t help themselves from falling into an extramarital affair. This affair would eventually cause the dissolution of both of their marriages, paving the way for both of them to become the other’s second spouse. Despite lasting for nearly two decades, their marriage was apparently tumultuous and filled with various scandals. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh played lovers in the film Fire Over England, and they subsequently became lovers in real life! Though both of the stars married at the time, they simply couldn’t help themselves. Vivien had become adamant that she wanted to become romantically involved with Laurence after seeing the actor performing on the stage, and Laurence soon found himself falling similarly head over heels for her. The two forced to keep their romance as private as possible due to their respective marriages. However, the fact that the two stars were having an affair soon became public knowledge in Hollywood.
Though Laurence and Vivien were already huge stars when they became involved, they became bigger stars soon after becoming married. Vivien received her biggest role yet with the film adaptation of Gone with the Wind, while Laurence similarly saw success with his appearance in the film adaptation of Wuthering Heights. When the two couldn’t be together due to their work, it allegedly drove them mad. Despite the fact that they had to keep their relationship a secret, they had become essentially inseparable.
It was in 1940 that Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh finally talked their respective spouses into going through with divorces. Laurence’s first wife got custody of their son, while Vivien’s first husband got custody of their daughter. The two were completely free to start a new life together, and they did so in August of that very same year. After tying the knot in August, the two stars were finally free to show the public that they were really in love. However, their public marriage ended up filled with scandal over the ensuing decades.
Once they were married in real life, Laurence and Vivien continued to perform together both on the stage and in film. On the big screen, the two could be seen together in films such as That Hamilton Woman. Meanwhile, they enjoyed putting on theatrical productions together, including starring together in a 1940 production of Romeo and Juliet.
There were numerous problems that plagued Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh early on in their nearly two-decade marriage. One of the things that haunted their marriage was the fact that critics never seemed to consider Vivien quite as good of an actress as Vivien was. Despite Vivien being an award-winning actress in her own right, she had chosen to marry one of the most critically acclaimed actors of his day. While both could certainly give incredible performances when they were in their element, the differences between their styles were often too apparent in their collaborations.
Besides the fact that the critics always liked Laurence Olivier more, another thing that hurt his marriage to Vivien Leigh was the fact that she suffered from numerous mental issues. Vivien would oftentimes snap and begin yelling at Laurence for little to no reason. The morning after these incidents, the actress could rarely remember what she had done. These kinds of episodes led to the actress being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or manic depression. The condition was much more stigmatic at the time than it is now, and it certainly didn’t bode well for Vivien’s professional career.
As Vivien Leigh’s mental health worsened, so did her physical health. She suffered from both tuberculosis and a miscarriage over the course of the 1940s, and there was a notorious public incident in which her and Laurence Olivier had slapped each other during a verbal dispute. In 1951, Vivien was cast in the role of Blanche DuBois in the film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire. Due to her mental troubles, Vivien was the perfect fit for the role and perfectly embodied the character. Sadly, performing in the role didn’t end up being the best thing for her mental state.
According to Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh essentially lost herself after performing in the role of Blanche DuBois. Though both she and the film received immense acclaim, Vivien was never quite the same. The actress had already fallen quite a bit due to both her mental issues and her failing health, and it wasn’t long before it would all come crashing down for her. In 1953, she was fired from the production of a film by the name of Elephant Walk because she was having hallucinations and uncontrollable fits of rage.
Vivien was fired from the feature and replaced. She suffered another miscarriage soon after this, and it was only a little bit later that her and Laurence finally ended their marriage. Laurence and Vivien divorced in 1960, and they both went on to marry other people. Vivien died in 1967, at the age of 53, and Laurence died in 1989, at the age of 82.
Although Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh being married for two decades might make one think that the two got along well, it seems like this wasn’t entirely true! Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh were both married to other people when they met, and that their marriage started out as an extramarital affair? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!