Vivien Leigh the actress is best known for her roles in films like “Gone with the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Vivien Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley on November 5, 1913 in Darjeeling, West Bengal, British India to Ernest Hartley and Gertrude Robinson Yackje. Leigh’s father was an officer in the Indian Cavalry. In 1920, Leigh attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Roehampton, England. It is here that Leigh became good friends with future actress, Maureen O’Sullivan. In 1931, Leigh attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England but soon after dropped out.
On December 20, 1932, Leigh married barrister, Herbert Leigh Holman. The marriage lasted eight years and produced one daughter, Suzanne in 1933. In 1935, Leigh made her film debut in the comedy, “Things Are Looking Up” and also appeared in “Look Up and Laugh”, “Gentlemen’s Agreemnt” and “The Village Squire”. That same year Leigh starred on stage with “The Green Sash” along with the “The Mask of Virtue” and signed a five year film contract with Alexander Korda who was a director and producer. In 1937, Leigh appeared in the film, “Fire Over England” with Laurence Olivier and Raymond Massey.
That same year, she also starred in “Dark Journey” and the romantic comedy, “Storm in a Teacup”. Leigh then took to the stage and appeared again with Olivier in “Hamlet”. Shortly after, Leigh began living with Olivier. In 1938, Leigh starred in the films, “A Yank at Oxford” with Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore and Maureen O’Sullivan and the comedy, “Sidewalks of London” with Charles Laughton and Rex Harrison. In 1939, Leigh appeared as the lead with “Scarlett O’Hara” in the film drama, “Gone with the Wind” which also starred Clark Gable and was based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell.
The film earned eight Academy Awards including “Best Actress in a Leading Role” for Leigh along with “Best Picture”. In 1940, Leigh starred in the films, “21 Days” and “Waterloo Bridge”. That same year, she married Laurence Olivier and appeared with him on stage in, “Romeo and Juliet”. Their marriage lasted twenty years. In 1941, Leigh starred in the film drama, “That Hamilton Woman”. Her next film wouldn’t come until four years later when she appeared in, “Caesar and Cleopatra”. That same year, Leigh was diagnosed with tuberculosis. In 1948, Leigh starred in the film drama, “Anna Karenina” and toured New Zealand and Australia with Olivier by appearing in, “The School for Scandal”, “The Skin of Our Teeth” and “Richard III”.
In 1951, Leigh starred as, “Blanche DuBois” in the drama, “A Streetcar Named Desire” with Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden. The film was directed by Eliza Kazan and won four Academy Awards including a win for Leigh with “Best Actress in a Leading Role”. Her performance also earned her a Golden Globe nomination. In later years Leigh starred in the films, “The Deep Blue Sea” (1955), “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” (1961) with Warren Beatty and Jill St. John and “Ship of Fools” (1965). On July 7, 1967, Leigh passed away from tuberculosis. She was 53 years old. Leigh was cremated and her ashes were scattered Blackboys, Sussex, England.