Vivien Leigh: Rare Photos of Legendary Actress Released in Book

Image: Vivien Leigh: Rare Photos of Legendary Actress Released in Book Vivien Leigh in 1965.

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 07:21 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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It would have been legendary movie star Vivien Leigh's 100th birthday, and the entertainment industry is remembering her contributions with the release of a book that features rare photos of the Oscar-winning actress.

The British actress was born on Nov. 5, 1913. She won Best Actress Academy Awards as Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind" and Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

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The book "Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait," by British film expert Kendra Bean, came out last month, giving fans a more detailed look at the actress.

Bean told the Los Angeles Times that the coffee table book combines historical material, including private letters and documents from her second husband, Laurence Olivier, with interviews from confidants like Olivier's son Tarquin Olivier and his first wife, actress Jill Esmond.

"She never would have called herself a method actor by any means, but she really used her life experiences to forward these characters," said Bean, who also writes about Leigh and Olivier on her blog. 

Leigh suffered from bipolar disorder and died from tuberculosis at 53 in 1967.

"It’s almost 75 years since Vivien Leigh entranced cinema-goers as the beautiful, feisty Scarlett O’Hara in 'Gone with theWind,' but her own turbulent life was almost as dramatic as the film role," the Daily Mail reported in October. "Her high-profile marriage to, and divorce from, Laurence Olivier, mental illness and highly successful career are covered in exceptional detail by Bean." 

In one of her last films, "Ship of Fools" in 1965, Leigh played a lonely, aging woman looking for love. The movie's director Stanley Kramer said that he thought Leigh was "playing something like her own life, and yet she never, by word or gesture, betrayed any such recognition."

Bean told the Los Angeles Times that despite Leigh's popular film career, her real interest was in theater. She eventually left Hollywood for the London stage with Olivier. The book and photos chronicle her stage work and parties that were attended by British and Hollywood stars like Noel Coward to Gary Cooper.

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