The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

Categories: Celebrities | History | World

It was love at first sight, born in a London theater during the production of Shakespeare's most romantic story. The strong and passionate Laurence Olivier in the role of Romeo instantly won the heart of his very young audience Vivien Leigh. A little later, she exclaimed emotionally: "I will marry this man!" And so it happened.

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

Her obsession was so strong that later, when their fateful acquaintance with Lawrence took place, the actress was not stopped by her own marriage, nor by her one-year-old daughter Suzanne, nor by the fact that her lover was also not free.

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

Lee was so carried away by Olivier that she did not miss a single performance with his participation. She penetrated behind the scenes, took the initiative in communication and eventually charmed the actor with her assertiveness and natural charm.

The romance of a rising star and an accomplished actor began in 1936 on the set of the film "Flame over England". The lovers could not hide their feelings, but it was not possible to officially announce the relationship — both Vivien's husband and Olivier's wife refused to give a divorce.

Then, ignoring the prohibitions and obstacles, the actors still began to live together. However, the idyll did not last long. Soon the celebrities had to be separated. Lawrence flew to America to play Heathcliff in the film adaptation of Wuthering Heights, while Vivien stayed in England.

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

But the unexpected news that the beloved injured his leg on the set, forced the film star to urgently drop everything and fly to him. At that time, the actress did not even imagine that this particular trip would be fateful.

In America, Vivien almost immediately met the producer's brother, who for two years could not find an actress for the role of Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Vivien immediately realized: this is a chance! She went to the casting and, leaving behind 1400 applicants, got the main role in her life.

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

Surprisingly, Olivier was strongly against the participation of his beloved in this project, but no one could stop the actress. Shooting absolutely exhausted Vivien. She literally lived her role. The audience fully appreciated the talent of the rising star, and she deservedly received her first Oscar for best actress.

Meanwhile, in the relationship of the actress, everything was not so smooth. Lawrence became jealous of Lee's success. Of course: the recent patron of a budding protégé, now he himself found himself in the shadow of her fame. Vivien had to prove with all her might to Olivier that he was an outstanding actor. During another loud scandal, the cherished statuette flew out of the window.

Despite the differences, the lovers still managed to cope with the misunderstanding. They finally broke off relations with previous partners and decided to have a secret wedding. Soon after the wedding, the happy newlyweds accepted an offer to shoot in the film "Lady Hamilton", where Olivier played Admiral Nelson, and Vivien played his beloved Emma.

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

The picture was highly appreciated by critics. Many noted that Lee's heroine is simply charming, but the image of Lawrence's character seemed far-fetched. Here, the difference in the creative approaches of the two great actors became especially visible. For Lawrence, the game has always stood next to the business, while Vivien lived a lifetime with each of her heroines.

Over time, the couple's relationship deteriorated, but they tried not to pay attention to the problems. In order to distract from negative thoughts, Lawrence and Vivien decided to put "Romeo and Juliet" in memory of their love. While working on the play, the couple's relationship finally deteriorated. The production turned out to be a failure.

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

However, everyone once again noted Lee's brilliant performance. Olivier was reproached for being the worst Romeo in history. The actor took the criticism painfully. Lawrence realized that he was no longer a great British actor, but only the husband of a legendary film star. It hit his self-esteem hard. Vivien's support did not help: Olivier could not believe that his beloved surpassed him in his career.

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

Family problems were aggravated by the fact that for 20 years of marriage, the spouses have not managed to have children. Olivier always dreamed of becoming a father, but all his hopes were crumbling. Around the same time, Vivien was diagnosed with a terrible diagnosis — "tuberculosis". The star could not refuse filming, and the disease did not recede.

Lee began to have nervous breakdowns. Vivien's sudden mood swings were accompanied by seizures, after which the actress completely forgot how she behaved. Lawrence was finding it increasingly difficult to understand his beloved.

Later, Lee even had to undergo compulsory treatment in a psychiatric clinic. Psychotropic drugs caused her bouts of depression, and with the consent of her husband, the film star was treated with electric shock. From now on, she was not destined to be the same.

Meanwhile, Lawrence began to have affairs with young actresses. By the time Vivien returned from the hospital, he was having an affair with the aspiring star Joan Plowright. As a result, Lawrence decided to divorce Lee. She bravely suffered a new blow and calmly released her ex-husband.

Nevertheless, even being in a relationship with another man, the actress continued to love Olivier and kept his photo on the dressing table, hoping that he would someday return. But the miracle did not happen.

The love story of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier: the rivalry that destroyed the marriage

Lawrence realized what a mistake he had made, too late. On July 8, 1967, after discovering that Vivien was dead, her common-law husband Jack Merrivile called Olivier with a request to come. Lawrence immediately rushed over. He stood by the bed of his beloved woman for a long time, crying, asking for forgiveness for the fact that their feelings could not withstand all the trials that fell to their lot. However, he didn't know that Vivien had forgiven him long ago.

Keywords: Stars | Love | Divorce

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