Vivien Leigh Biography

Vivien Leigh, Lady Olivier (5 November 1913 – 8 July 1967) was an English actress. She is best known for her performances as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for both.

Lauded for her beauty, Leigh felt that it sometimes prevented her from being taken seriously as an actress. Despite her fame as a screen actress, Leigh was primarily a stage performer. During her prolific 30-year stage career, she played roles ranging from the heroines of Noël Coward and George Bernard Shaw comedies to classic Shakespearean characters such as Ophelia, Cleopatra, Juliet and Lady Macbeth.

Leigh was greatly associated with her second husband, the acclaimed actor Laurence Olivier, to whom she was married from 1940 to 1960. Leigh and Olivier starred together in many films and stage productions, with Olivier often directing. For much of her adult life she suffered from bipolar disorder. She earned a reputation for being difficult to work with, and her career suffered periods of inactivity. She suffered recurrent bouts of chronic tuberculosis, first diagnosed in the mid-1940s, which ultimately claimed her life at the age of 53. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Leigh as the sixteenth greatest female movie star of all time.