Vivien Leigh Letters and Photos Acquired by London Museum

Image: Vivien Leigh Letters and Photos Acquired by London Museum

Thursday, 15 Aug 2013 10:54 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Telegrams, photographs, and letters connected to Vivien Leigh, the late Oscar-winning British actress, have been acquired by London's Victoria & Albert Museum.

The archives are from Leigh's life and work and span her teen years to the day she died of tuberculosis in 1967 at age 53.

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"We want to rescue Vivien Leigh from the shadow of Laurence Olivier," Keith Lodwick, theatre and performance curator at the V&A, told The Guardian. "She was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful women of the 20th century, and in some ways that was her handicap. I think this archive will rewrite the biographies.

"It gives remarkable insights into her character, her intelligence, the breadth of the her interests, and just how hard she worked, just how carefully she prepared for her stage and film roles," Lodwick added.

The archives of Vivien Leigh letters and photos acquired provide distinct insight into the actress and her career, through various diaries, scrap books, scripts and photographs, including hundreds of rare early color photographs she took while on tour.

It includes thousands of letters to a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, including the Queen Mother, Graham Greene, and Winston Churchill, added The Guardian.

The museum did not disclose how much it paid for the archive, which will be on display this fall, The Independent reported.

"Vivien Leigh is undoubtedly one of the UK's greatest luminaries of stage and screen and along with Laurence Olivier, remains a true star of her time," Martin Roth, the museum's director, told The Independent. "It not only represents Vivien Leigh's life and career, but is also a fascinating insight into the theatrical and social world that surrounded her."

Leigh won Best Actress Oscars for "Gone with the Wind" in 1940 and for "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 1952.

Leigh and Olivier were married from 1940 to 1960. When they were separated because of work commitments, the pair exchanged many letters.

In one letter, Leigh wrote: "My dear sweetheart, my love is with you every second – and I know tonight will be a great triumph for you my darling boy. Your proud and adoring Vivien."

Olivier replied with a drawing of them in the sea watched by a fish and wrote, "Registering amazement at what it sees", adding, "O how I want to go to Brighton with you!!"

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