Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh

She enjoyed a career that spanned over thirty years and saw her win two Oscars as well as deliver a string of memorable roles.

Leigh did enrol at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London but left after she married Herbert Leigh Holman and it was only after the birth of her daughter Suzanne that she made her acting debut.

She took on a small role in Things Are Looking Up before tacking the play The Mask Of Virtue in 1935.

It was in 1937 that she began working with Lawrence Olivier in Fire Over England and the pair had an affair during the shooting of the movie.

And while she went on to star in the likes of A Yank At Oxford and St. Martin's Lane it wasn't until Gone With The Wind that she achieved real stardom.

The movie was based on the Margaret Mitchell Pulitzer prize winning novel and saw Leigh star alongside Clark Gable.

Despite some problems whilst filming Gone With The Win when on to be a massive hit and was nominated for ten Oscars - and Leigh picked up her first Best Actress win.

While things were working out well in her work Leigh's personal life was not going so smoothly as she divorced Holman and married Olivier.

Leigh had hoped to work with Olivier in Rebecca and Pride and Prejudice but she lost out to Joan Fontaine and Greer Garson.

Leigh went on to star in Waterloo Bridge with Robert Taylor and the movie was a huge success - as Leigh cemented herself as a real box-office powerhouse.

There were some personal struggles for Leigh in the early forties as she was diagnosed with tuberculosis before suffering a miscarriage in 1945.

She returned to the stage in 1946 when she starred in The Skin Of Our Teeth and projects Caesar and Cleopatra and Anna Karenina hit the big screen - however they did not enjoy huge amounts of success.

The role of Blanche DuBois proved to be a huge hit for Leigh as she starred in over three hundred performances of A Streetcar Names Desire.

And when the Tennessee Williams story was adapted for the big screen Leigh reprised the role alongside Marlon Brando.

Her performance and the movie won rave reviews and Leigh went on to pick up her second Best Actress Oscar.

Leigh struggled with ill-health during the fifties but she continued to work on both stage and screen.

It was a recurrence of tuberculosis in 1967 that caused her death as she collapsed at her home.

Vivian Leigh was widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women of her time and she remains one of the greatest screen icons as movies such as Gone With The Wind and A Streetcar Names Desire have endured.

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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