Born on November 5, 1913, while her British parents were living in India, Vivien Leigh is most remembered for her Oscar-winning performance as Scarlett O’Hara in the Civil War lavish epic Gone With The Wind (1939). Shortly after completing the film, Leigh returned to England for patriotic reasons due to her native nation having become involved in World War II. Leigh continued to star in movies, including the patriotic ventures Waterloo Bridge (1940) and That Hamilton Woman (1941).
Also an accomplished stage actress, Leigh originated the role of Blanche DuBois in the West End production of the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire. She won her second Academy Award for her performance of the role in the 1951 film adaptation. However, the emotionally charged role is thought to have triggered a worsening of her manic depression, which she battled throughout her adult life.
Leigh was married twice. She gained both her stage name and her only child, Suzanne, but her romance and twenty year marriage to revered actor Laurence Olivier is much more often remembered.
Vivien Leigh died of a reoccurrence of tuberculosis in 1967. Although divorced from Leigh, Olivier was said to be distraught, even sitting by her dead body for an extended period and assisting to make her funeral arrangements. The lights of London’s West End were dimmed in her honor.