7 Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley on the evening of Wednesday November 5th, 1913 in her parents’home in Darjeeling, India. She moved to England with her family at the age of 6 in 1920.
On August 21st, 1934 she arrived at Lime Grove Studios to begin work on her first film, Things are Looking Up. During this period Vivien found a new favorite novel that she re-read several times — Gone with the Wind. She even asked her agent to submit her name to the widely publicized search to find an actress for Scarlett. After a remarkably well timed introduction to David O. Selznick by her Hollywood agent on December 10th, the first night of location shooting, Vivien did screen tests for her dream role. Both Selznick and the film’s director George Cukor, were impressed by her talent and beauty.
As soon as the filming was finished, Vivien did a screen test for the film, Rebecca. She didn’t seem right for the part-qualities which made her ideal for Scarlett now made her unsuited for such a restrained role, Vivien next was given the lead role in MGM’s Waterloo Bridge as part of her new Hollywood counter. Meanwhile, she prepared for the grand opening of GWTW in Atlanta. It opened to great reviews and Vivien became the talk of the town. Right after Christmas, she began work on Waterloo Bridge, talking ballet lessons for a scene early in the film, and voice lessons to improve her acting technique.
In the summer of 1950, Vivien left England to return to Hollywood after nearly a decade absence, and began work on the film version of A Street Car Named Desire. Shooting started August 14th and Warner Brothers paid Vivien $100,000 for her 3 months of work. Vivien purposely made herself look older and unflattering for the film using heavy makeup, wige and drastic lighting which would hide her still beautiful features. Audiences in the autumn of 1951 were stunned to see such a different person, barely recognizing the actress that played Scarlett so exquisitely a decade earlier. The resulting film in 1951 was still powerful, perhaps Vivien’s finest achievement, winning her a second best actress Oscar.