After finishing her primary education she decided to pursue acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art when she was 18. For the next few years her career consisted of stage work and small film roles. In 1937 her first marriage with dissolved and she took up residence with actor Laurence Olivier. It was in that same year she starred in “Dark Journey” with Conrad Veidt and “Fire Over England” with future husband Olivier. It was the latter film that brought her to the attention of David O. Selznick who in 1938 was searching for the leading lady in “Gone With the Wind” (1939). She auditioned for the role and was cast as ‘Scarlett O’Hara’, the role in which she garnered her first Academy award. She would often be out of the public eye for months and even years at a time since she refused to be part of the Hollywood publicity machine. She instead chose to spend time with Olivier, whom she married in 1940. In the next few years she would make only a few films including “Waterloo Bridge” (1940), “Cesar and Cleopatra” (1945) and “Anna Karenina” (1948). In 1951 she played opposite Marlon Brando in the film “A Streetcar Named Desire” earning another Academy award for her performance as ‘Blanche DuBois’. Diagnosed with severe bouts of manic-depression (now called bipolar disorder) and other health related problems due to a tubercular patch on her left lungm her performances then became few and far between as she began suffering emotionally and physically from the problems. She was divorced from Olivier in 1960. Despite her health she was able to turn in two more well received performances in the films “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” (1961) and “Ship of Fools” (1965) which would be her last film. After that she performed in various stage performances including “La Contessa” and “Ivanov.” Vivien Leigh was found deceased in her London apartment by Jack Merivale, an actor and longtime friend that become her love interest in her later years.
- November, 05, 1913
- Darjeeling, British India
- July, 08, 1967
- London, England
Cause of Death
- her lungs filled with liquid, they collapsed and she suffocated
- Cremated, Scattered on the lake at Tickerage Mill, near Blackboys, Sussex, England