The life story of Vivienne Lee

“I’ll think about it tomorrow”, actress Vivienne Lee said in the cult film “Gone with the Wind”, which became a women’s bible long before “Sex and the City”. Scarlett O’Hara was an idol of the twentieth century, and even today she is considered one of the most intriguing film characters ever. This British woman, who is described as the most beautiful lady from the Island, from the earliest days was a woman of borders who did her best in every situation.

In content “The life story of Vivienne Lee’s”, you will see that she loved passionately and at all costs, did not shy away from the contempt of those around her and had the courage to face everyone. However, what she could not match was a mental illness. At the very beginning of her career, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, due to which she lost many great projects, friends, dignity and the love of her life.

In front of you is the biography of one of the most beautiful and best actresses!

Earlier years

Vivienne Mary Lee was born on November 5, 1913, in Darjeeling, British India, to Ernest Hartley, a British Indian cavalry officer, and Gertrude Robinson, an Irishwoman of Armenian descent. She was a unit and that allowed her to have the full support of her parents. She lived in India with her family until she was six, and after that, she moved to Britain. Vivienne first appeared in the theater at the age of three, reciting a song in her mother’s amateur acting group. As early as 1920, her parents sent her to a monastery in England for schooling.

In addition to her interest in literature, she played ballet, played the cello, piano and actively studied and spoke foreign languages. Her father helped her enroll at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. In late 1931, she met Herbert Lee Holman, a thirteen-year-old lawyer. They married on December 20, 1932, she left her studies and soon gave birth to a daughter, Susan Ferington. These changes did not hinder her acting plans. Shortly after giving birth, Vivienne returned to her acting studies, which she completed in record time. Her friends suggested her for a minor role in “Things Look Better,” which was her film debut, and after that she changed her name from Vivienne Holman to Vivienne Lee.

A turning point in life

After her role in the play “Mask of Virtue” in 1935, Lee received great reviews, and then interviews and newspaper articles followed. With this role, she also enchanted a young, married actor who roamed the London theater stages, primarily because of his beauty and talent – Lawrence Olivier. Despite all the objective obstacles, love flared up. Even before she met him, she said she would become his wife, even though she was already married. While they were playing lovers in the movie “Fire over England”, between Olivier and Vivienne, sympathies developed, and after the filming, they started a relationship. Witnesses of that time claim that the two of them were the most beautiful and most in love couple. During that period, she read Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind” and told the agent to propose her for the role.

She later pointed out: “I hired myself for the role of Scarlett O’Hare.” There was so much talk about the film before the shooting that the issue of choosing the actors became almost of social importance. However, she managed to triumph at the casting, and she rehearsed the character by repeating the lines in front of the mirror for hours. After the premiere, which was a real hit, many women imitated her, some called her Scarlet, and she herself became a myth because of this role. Critics and directors who gave comments like Beauty whose enchanting beauty often new how to overshadow her dizzying successes as an actress and A complete actress prevented by beauty. She herself said, “People think that if you look pretty handsome, you don’t know how to act, and since I only care about acting, I don’t think beauty can be a big handicap if you really want to look like the character you’re portraying who isn’t like you”.

Either way, this was her life role, and at the same time, Olivier played in “Hurricane Heights”.

During that period, the two of them ruled the world. Among the ten Oscars won by the film “Gone with the Wind” was the award for the best actress that Vivienne won.
In the 1940s, situations began to occur that adversely affected her mental health. She changed her mood and soon gained a reputation as a difficult and unreasonable person. She was even capricious on the set of “Gone with the Wind”. This was also influenced by a bad relationship with his wife, who did not want to divorce her. She herself thought that she would never be able to fully enjoy her happiness, which was built on two other people’s misfortunes. Still, Larry was with her at all times to prove to her that, no matter what, it was worth fighting for her happiness. The behavior of her daughter and Lawrence’s son, who accepted their stepmother, that is, stepfather as real parents, also supported the construction of their married life.

Olivier and Vivienne began living together, although Holman and Olivier’s wife, actress Jill Esmond, still refused to divorce them. Meanwhile, Vivienne resolved her disagreements with Holman, to whom she often wrote from America: “I despise Hollywood … I will never get used to this – how I hate film acting!” “Gone with the Wind” brought Vivien fame, but she claimed: “I’m not a movie star – I’m an actress. Being a movie star, just a movie star, it’s such a fake life that is driven by false values and publicity. Actresses last a long time and there are always wonderful roles to be found. ” In February 1940, Jill divorced Olivier, and Holman also signed the papers on the amicable divorce.

After that, Olivier and Lee got married in California, and only their godparents Catherine Hepburn and Garson Kanin were present at the ceremony. In the following years, the married couple visited the castings where Olivier got roles, but she was rejected. That is why they staged the theater play “Romeo and Juliet” on Broadway together, they invested all their savings in it, and the failure brought a financial catastrophe. They returned to England, and Vivienne traveled through North Africa in 1943, performing in front of soldiers. After a few months, due to enormous physical efforts in order to earn as much money as possible, she fell ill with tuberculosis. That didn’t make her calm down either, so in the spring she started shooting the movie “Caesar and Cleopatra”.

Loss of children

She then discovered she was pregnant, but soon had an abortion. The loss of the baby led to a fall into severe depression. Those who dealt with her character and work, often pointed out that she desperately wanted a child with Olivier, but that she never admitted it. Then she began to suffer from nervous breakdowns, which were later defined by psychologists as manic depression. The actress often changed her mood, suffered from insomnia, panic attacks, was often very rude to close people, insulted them and even physically attacked them, and then obediently apologized to them by sending gifts, letters and flowers with requests for forgiveness. It even happened to her that she had sexual relations with complete strangers, people she would literally pick up from the street. Inadequate treatment only made the situation worse.

The actress was often forcibly connected to electroshock therapy or given large amounts of sedatives. What was admirable was that even after such therapies, she went on stage and played the given role the best she could. Her husband said that sometimes she was in such a bad condition that the roles she played obsessed her, especially the character of Blanche Dubois. Vivienne played in the theatrical version of the cult drama “A Tram Called Desire”. After 326 performances, she was hired for the film version. She told the Los Angeles Times: “I was in the Blanche Dubois Theater for nine months. Now she manages me.” This role brought her another Oscar for Best Actress, and she later pointed out that playing Blanche drove her crazy. During the filming of this film, it was rumored that Marlon Brando was in a secret relationship with Vivienne.

After David Niven’s statement that he saw Brand and Lawrence kissing in the pool of their family house, it was whispered that the two of them were in a relationship. Lee reportedly knew about their affair. In his autobiography, Brando wrote: “He would never run into Larry’s chicken because Larry was an extremely good guy.”

Just at the time when they were struggling with a difficult situation, Olivia was proclaimed a knight, and she joined him at Buckingham Palace at the inauguration. She became Lady Olivier, a title she held until her death. Olivier also became a member of the Old Vic Theater Board of Directors in 1948, and after the ceremony, he and Vivienne went on a tour of Australia and New Zealand to raise funds for the theater. The members of the cast later recalled several quarrels between the couple, and the most dramatic was the one when Vivienne did not want to go on stage. Olivier slapped her, and she retaliated and cursed at him before she went on stage. At the end of the tour, they were both exhausted and ill, and Olivier told reporters: “You may not know, but you are talking to a couple of walking corpses.” He later said he lost Vivienne in Australia.

In January 1953, Vivienne made the film “Elephant Walk” with Peter Finch. Shortly after the start of filming, she suffered a nervous breakdown, so she was replaced on the set by Elizabeth Taylor. Olivier took her back to their home in England, where she confessed to him about her affair with Finch. “I fell in love with him,” she told her cheating husband who, despite an injured ego, decided to stay with her and help her recover. It took months, and because of that episode, many of their friends found out about her problems. Larry’s glass was full, after twenty years of marriage and great love, they wanted to put an end to their all but normal relationship. He could no longer bear himself beside her, the struggle with the manic states of his Vivienne, nor the conflicts with friends who condemned him for enduring it all. Although he was determined, he still couldn’t leave her. He decided to stay, just one more time.

Shortly afterwards, Vivienne became pregnant for the second time, but the scenario repeated itself, she had an abortion again. She fell into a depression that lasted for months. When she recovered, she joined Olivier on a European tour that was interrupted due to her frequent outbursts of anger. It was also the end of their romance. Upon her return to London, her first husband, Herbert Lee Holman, who had a great influence on his wife, stayed by her side to try to calm her down. In 1958, Vivienne began a relationship with actor Jack Merival, who knew about her health condition and assured Olivier that he would take care of her. Two years later, she and Lawrence divorced, and he married young actress Joan Plowright. They led a quiet life, had three sons, but Joan could not match Vivienne or replace her. It was too simple. Although they were never together again, the most beautiful British woman, as journalists often call her, once said: “I would rather live a short life with Larry, than face a long one without him.” Until her death, she carried a picture from her second husband’s youth with her. Their love was fatal, probably fatal, but eternal.

Severe health condition

In May 1967, her health deteriorated significantly and her tuberculosis progressed. Less than a month later, on the night of July 7, Merival’s husband, like many times before, left her at home to perform in the play, and when he returned at midnight, he found her asleep. Everything seemed normal, but when he returned to the bedroom half an hour later, he found her dead. Her lifeless body lay on the floor next to their bed. Before she died, she got up and tried to go to the bathroom, but as her lungs were filled with fluid, she collapsed and suffocated. Merival immediately called Olivier, who, although he was receiving severe therapy for prostate cancer at the time, immediately rushed to his ex-wife’s residence.

In his autobiography, Olivier described the bitter suffering when he realized she was no more. He remembered finding Merival moving her body to the bed. After saying goodbye to his beloved wife, he helped Merival arrange everything around the funeral. In one part of London, after the painful knowledge of the diva’s departure, all the lights went out. Vivienne was cremated, and her ashes were, according to her wishes, scattered on the lake near the house where she lived in East Sussex, England. Lawrence outlived Vivienne for exactly twenty-two years, but even that was not enough to forget her and get over her. Left remained Baroness Olivia even after the divorce, and her friends said that she loved her ex-husband for the rest of her life. In 1987, a family friend of the Olivier found Lawrence crying while watching an old movie with Vivienne. When he saw him, Larry said through tears, “This was the real thing. This was love”.



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