Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh

Peter Finch was discovered by Laurence Olivier in 1948 when Olivier and his theatrical company, which included wife Leigh, were conducting a tour of Australia, Olivier signed the young Aussie to a personal contract and Finch became part of Olivier's theatrical company. He then proceeded to cuckold his mentor and employer by bedding Leigh. Olivier was personally humiliated but ever the trouper, he kept the talented Finch under contract after having brought him back to England, where Finch flourished as an actor. Finch and Leigh carried on a long affair, and since Leigh was bipolar and her manic-depression frequently manifested itself in nymphomania, some speculate that Olivier subconsciously might have been grateful for Finch as he occupied Leigh's hours and kept her out of worse trouble and Olivier from even worse embarrassment. Their on-again, off-again affair reportedly reached a crisis point on the movie Elephant Walk (1954), when they had renewed their affair. However, the instability of their relationship allegedly triggered a nervous breakdown in Leigh, and Olivier had to step in to take care of her.

Laurence Olivier wrote in his autobiography, "Confessions of an Actor," that sometime after World War II, Leigh announced calmly that she was no longer in love with him, but loved him like a brother. Olivier was emotionally devastated. What he did not know at the time was that Leigh's declaration -- and her subsequent affairs with multiple partners -- was a signal of the bipolar disorder that eventually disrupted her life and career. Leigh had every intention of remaining married to Olivier, but was no longer interested in him romantically. Olivier himself began having affairs (including one with Claire Bloom in the 1950s, according to Bloom's own autobiography) as Leigh's eye and amorous intentions wandered and roamed outside of the marital bedchamber. Olivier had to accompany Leigh to Hollywood in 1950 in order to keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble, to ensure that her manic-depression did not get out of hand and disrupt the production of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). In order to do so, he accepted a part in William Wyler's Carrie (1952) that was shot at the same time as "Streetcar". The Olivie

Laurence Olivier's first wife, Jill Esmond, named Vivien as co-respondent in her February 1940 divorce from Olivier on grounds of adultery. Vivien would name Joan Plowright - Olivier's next and last wife - as co-respondent in her 1960 divorce from Olivier, also on grounds of adultery.

A heavy smoker, Leigh was smoking almost four packs a day during filming of Gone with the Wind (1939).

A lover of cats, especially Siamese.

According to legend, Myron Selznick introduced Vivien to his brother - Gone with the Wind (1939) producer David O. Selznick - with the words, "Hey, genius! Meet your Scarlett."

After Joan Crawford quit filming Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) Leigh was offered her role but she, however, turned it down. Olivia de Havilland, Leigh's co-star in Gone with the Wind (1939) was then offered and accepted the role.

After cremation at Golders Green, London, her ashes were scattered on the mill pond at her home, Tickerage Mill, at Blackboys in Sussex.

Although she was a British subject for her whole life, her ancestry was French and Irish.

As of 2008, she is only one of six actors who have a 2-0 winning record when nominated for an acting Oscar. The others are Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937); Helen Hayes for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931) and Airport (1970); Sally Field for Norma Rae (1979) and Places in the Heart (1984); Kevin Spacey for The Usual Suspects (1995) and American Beauty (1999); and Hilary Swank for Boys Don't Cry (1999) and Million Dollar Baby (2004).

Became pregnant twice (in 1944 and 1955) during her marriage to Laurence Olivier; she suffered miscarriages on both occasions.

Claimed that when she tested for Gone with the Wind (1939), the costume was still warm from the actress who preceded her.

Despite her legendary stature, Leigh made fewer than twenty films in her career.

Eventually, Vivien needed shock therapy to control her manic depression. Sometimes she would go on stage just hours after her treatments, without missing a beat in her performance.

Ex-stepmother of Tarquin Olivier.

Gave birth to her daughter, Suzanne Farrington, during her marriage to Herbert Leigh Holman.

Gertrude Hartley, while awaiting the birth of her child in Darjeeling, spent 15 minutes every morning gazing at the Himalayas in the belief that their astonishing beauty would be passed to her unborn child.

Godmother of actress Juliet Mills.

Great grandchildren are: Ashua, Amy, Sophie and Tessa. The great grandchildren, the girls in particular, bear a striking resemblance to Suzanne.

Had an affair with actor Peter Finch that nearly ended her marriage to Laurence Olivier. The movie The V.I.P.s (1963) is based on an incident from Leigh's and Olivier's marriage, when she was about to leave him for Finch but Olivier wooed her back.