Born Vivian Mary Hartley on 5 th November 1913 in India, Vivien’s family moved to London after Word War I broke out. Here she attended a convent school, where the only company she really enjoyed was that of a courtyard cat and also that of a close friend, Maureen O’Sullivan.
It was after Vivien’s mother took her to see a London play that she developed an interest in the stage, and she saw that same play a whopping sixteen times in a six month period. Aged nineteen, Vivien decided to marry an English barrister. Her friend, Maureen, had already headed off to Hollywood where she was enjoying a career in acting.
Vivien had a bit part in an English film in 1935, ‘Things are Looking Up’ but she preferred the prospect of acting on the London stage, admiring established London actors such as Laurence Oliver, who was one day to become her husband. Leigh managed to secure a small part in an English play, ‘The Green Sash’, and later a bigger part in an English movie with Laurence Oliver, ‘Fire Over England’. It was during the filming of this movie that Leigh and Oliver realized they were in love.
After this movie, both of them went on to make their biggest movie hits, “Wuthering Heights’ for Oliver, and ‘Gone with the Wind’ for Leigh. Her marriage to Laurence lasted nearly two decades, and they did many performances together on the London and New York stage.In 1961, Vivien played her last big movie part in’ The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone’. She died on 7 th July 1967 in England from tuberculosis.
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