Laurence Olivier







        Biography
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        Lord Laurence Olivier was born Laurence Kerr Olivier on the 22 May 1907 in Dorking, Surrey, UK. Olivier was the son of an Anglican minister, who, despite his well-documented severity, was an unabashed theater lover, enthusiastically encouraging young Olivier to give acting a try.

        April 2013: Added extensive scans of the 'Brideshead Revisited' LP with the fantastic 12" booklet. Here



          The boy made his first public appearance at age nine, playing Brutus in an All Saint's production of Julius Caesar



        Laurence Olivier Wall of Film Posters - See Them All | RSC Shakespeare: The Life, The Works, The Treasures Book (Superb Olivier Memorabilia)

        No member of the audience was more impressed than actress Dame Sybil Thorndike, who knew then and there that Olivier had what it took...(scroll down).



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        • Name: Laurence Olivier
        • Birthname: Laurence Kerr Olivier
        • Profession: Actor
        • Date of Birth: 22 May 1907
        • Place of Birth: Dorking, Surrey, UK
        • Height: 5' 10" (1.78 m)

        • Spouses:
            Joan Plowright (17 March 1961 - 11 July 1989) (his death) 3 children
            Vivien Leigh (31 August 1940 - 6 January 1961) (divorced)
            Jill Esmond (25 July 1930 - 29 January 1940) (divorced) 1 child
        • Died: 11 July 1989
        • Place of Death: Steyning, West Sussex, UK (complications from a muscle disorder)
        • Interred: Ashes buried in the south transept of Westminster Abbey, London

        • Titles: Sir Laurence Olivier, Lord Olivier, Baron Olivier of Brighton



          'Without Acting I Cannot Breathe.'
          - SIR LAURENCE OLIVIER



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        BIOGRAPHY: FRAGMENTS FROM A LIFE


        Much has been made of the fact that the 15-year-old Olivier played Katherine in a St. Edward's School production of The Taming of the Shrew; there was, however, nothing unusual at the time for males to play females in all-boy schools. (For that matter, the original Shakespeare productions in the 16th and 17th centuries were strictly stag.) Besides, Olivier was already well versed in playing female roles, having previously played Maria in Twelfth Night.

        Two years after The Taming of the Shrew, he enrolled at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, where one of his instructors was Claude Rains.

        Olivier made his professional London debut the same year in The Suliot Officer, and joined the Birmingham Repertory in 1926; by the time Olivier was 20, he was playing leads.



          His subsequent West End stage triumphs included Journey's End and Private Lives


        In 1929, he made his film debut in the German-produced A Temporary Widow. He married actress Jill Esmond in 1930, and moved with her to America when Private Lives opened on Broadway.



          Signed to a Hollywood contract by RKO in 1931, Olivier was promoted as "the new Ronald Colman," but he failed to make much of an impression onscreen


        By the time Greta Garbo insisted that he be replaced by John Gilbert in her upcoming Queen Christina (1933), Olivier was disenchanted with the movies and vowed to remain on-stage.

        He graduated to full-fledged stardom in 1935, when he was cast as Romeo in John Gielgud's London production of Romeo and Juliet. (He also played Mercutio on the nights Gielgud assumed the leading role himself)...(scroll down).



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        ICON & ICONOGRAPHY


        It was around this time that Olivier reportedly became fascinated with the works of Sigmund Freud, which led to his applying a "psychological" approach to all future stage and screen characters. Whatever the reason, Olivier's already superb performances improved dramatically, and, before long, he was being judged on his own merits by London critics, and not merely compared (often disparagingly) to Gielgud or Ralph Richardson.

        It was in collaboration with his friend Richardson that Olivier directed his first play in 1936, which was also the year he made his first Shakespearean film, playing Orlando in Paul Czinner's production of As You Like It.

        Now a popular movie leading man, Olivier starred in such pictures as Fire Over England (1937), 21 Days (1938), The Divorce of Lady X (1938), and Q Planes (1939).


          He returned to Hollywood in 1939 to star as Heathcliff in Samuel Goldwyn's glossy (and financially successful) production of Wuthering Heights, earning the first of 11 Oscar nominations.


        He followed this with leading roles in Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), MGM's Pride and Prejudice (1940), and Alexander Korda's That Hamilton Woman (1941), co-starring in the latter with his second wife, Vivien Leigh.

        Returning to England during World War II, Olivier served as a parachute officer in the Royal Navy. Since he was stationed at home, so to speak, he was also able to serve as co-director (with Ralph Richardson) of the Old Vic. His most conspicuous contribution to the war effort was his joyously jingoistic film production of Henry V (1944), for which he served as producer, director, and star. Like all his future film directorial efforts, Henry V pulled off the difficult trick of retaining its theatricality without ever sacrificing its cinematic values. Henry V won Olivier an honorary Oscar, not to mention major prizes from several other corners of the world.

        He served up another celluloid Shakespeare the same year, producing, directing and starring in Hamlet. This time he won two Oscars: one for his performance, the other for the film itself.

        The '50s was a transitional decade for Olivier: while he had his share of successes -- his movie singing debut in The Beggar's Opera (1953), his 1955 adaptation of Richard III -- he also suffered a great many setbacks, both personal (his disintegrating relationship with Vivien Leigh) and professional (1957's The Prince and the Showgirl, which failed despite the seemingly unbeatable combination of Olivier's directing and Marilyn Monroe's star performance)...(scroll down).



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        In 1956, Olivier boldly reinvented himself as the seedy, pathetically out-of-step music hall comic Archie Rice in the original stage production of John Osborne's The Entertainer. It was a resounding success, both on-stage and on film, and Olivier reprised his role in a 1960 film version directed by Tony Richardson.

        Thereafter, Olivier deliberately sought out such challenging, image-busting roles as the ruthless, bisexual Crassus in Spartacus (1960) and the fanatical Mahdi in Khartoum (1965). He also achieved a measure of stability in his private life in 1961 when he married actress Joan Plowright.


          In 1962, he was named the artistic director of Britain's National Theatre, a post he held for ten years.


        To periodically replenish the National's threadbare bank account, Olivier began accepting roles that were beneath him artistically, but which paid handsomely; in the early '70s, he even hawked Polaroid cameras on television. During this period, he was far more comfortable before the cameras than in the theater, suffering as he was from a mysterious bout of stage fright. He also committed two more directorial efforts to film, Othello (1965) and Dance of Death (1968), both of which were disappointingly stage-bound.

        In 1974, suffering from a life-threatening illness, he made his last stage appearance. From 1974 until his death in 1989, he seemingly took whatever film job was offered him, ostensibly to provide an income for his family, should the worst happen. Some colleagues, like director John Schlesinger, were disillusioned by Olivier's mercenary approach to his work. Others, like Entertainer director Tony Richardson, felt that Olivier was not really a sellout as much as he was what the French call a cabotin -- not exactly a ham: a performer, a vulgarian, someone who lives and dies for acting.

        Amidst such foredoomed projects as The Jazz Singer (1980) and Inchon (1981), Olivier was still capable of great things, as shown by his work in such TV productions as 1983's Mister Halpern and Mister Johnson and, in 1984, King Lear and Voyage Round My Father.

        In 1979, he was once more honored at Academy Awards time, receiving an honorary Oscar "for the full body of his work." His last appearance was in the 1988 film War Requiem. With so many books on Laurence Olivier available, it is hard to recommend any one as the definitive portrait of the man. Donald Spoto's biography Laurence Olivier would be an excellent place to start and used or new copies of it can regularly be obtained amazon.com for less than $ 1.00!

        He was married three times:

          - Jill Esmond (25 July 1930 - 2999999999999 January 1940) (divorced) 1 son
          - Vivien Leigh (31 August 1940 - 2 December 1960) (divorced)
          - Joan Plowright (17 March 1961 - 11 July 1989) (his death) 3 children

        From his first marriage to Esmond he had a son, Tarquin Olivier.

        From his marriage to Plowright, he had two daughters, Julie Kate and Tamsin, and a son, Richard.

        Olivier was knighted in 1947 and made a life peer in 1970.

        He was just over 5ft 10 inches tall.

        In an early draft to his autobiography he admitted to homosexual encounters but this admission was withdrawn before publication.

        He died of complications from a muscle disorder on the 11 July 1989 in Steyning, West Sussex, UK.

        He was interred at Westminster Abbey, London, UK


        Alexander Korda The Definitive Biography Hardback Book

      • Alexander Korda The Definitive Biography Hardback Book Extensively Scanned. Includes in-depth details of the making of That Hamilton Woman





        RSC Shakespeare: The Life, The Works, The Treasures Book (Superb Olivier Memorabilia)

        Laurence Olivier Gallery | Rebecca Photo Gallery | Laurence Olivier Southbank Statue
        It's All Larry Olivier, It's Awesome ... It's Here - Laurence Olivier Wall of Film Posters
        It's All Rebecca, It's Awesome ... It's Here - Rebecca Film Posters


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        Laurence Olivier Dvds & Books @ Amazon.com | Laurence Olivier Posters | Photos

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        Beggar's Opera | 49th Parallel | Rebecca | King Lear | Laurence Olivier Centenary Collection
        Laurence Olivier Presents | Laurence Olivier Presents Harold Pinter's The Collection
        Oh! What A Lovely War | Fire Over England
        Richard III | Rebecca | That Hamilton Woman | Wuthering Heights
        A Queen Is Crowned

        Olivia De Havilland | Leslie Howard | Vivien Leigh | Victor Saville
        Claude Rains | Clark Gable | Robert Taylor | Galleries




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        I M A G E S


        Fire over England, Laurence Olivier, 1937 The Forty-Ninth Parallel, Laurence Olivier, 1941 Laurence Olivier Laurence Olivier Clouds over Europe, Q Planes, Laurence Olivier, 1939 Laurence Olivier
        Portrait of Laurence Olivier with Polka Dot Tie Portrait of Laurence Olivier, with Pleated Pants Portrait of Laurence Olivier, with Ascot Laurence Olivier, 1940 Laurence Olivier, 1940 Vivien Leigh and Husband Laurence Olivier, 1950s
        Laurence Olivier, c.1946 Laurence Olivier, c.1930s Portrait of Laurence Olivier, June 17, 1939 Rebecca, Laurence Olivier, 1940 Rebecca, Laurence Olivier, 1940 Rebecca, Laurence Olivier, 1940
        Laurence Olivier Laurence Olivier at the Time of Carrie, 1952 Portrait of Laurence Olivier


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        Laurence Olivier Biog. | Rebecca Photo Gallery | Laurence Olivier Southbank Statue
        It's All Larry Olivier, It's Awesome ... It's Here - Laurence Olivier Wall of Film Posters
        It's All Rebecca, It's Awesome ... It's Here - Rebecca Film Posters


        Poster Photos


        Laurence Olivier Dvds & Books @ Amazon.com | Laurence Olivier Posters | Photos

        Laurence Olivier Photos @ Allposters.com

        Beggar's Opera | 49th Parallel | Rebecca | King Lear | Laurence Olivier Centenary Collection
        Laurence Olivier Presents | Laurence Olivier Presents Harold Pinter's The Collection
        Oh! What A Lovely War | Fire Over England
        Richard III | Rebecca | That Hamilton Woman | Wuthering Heights
        A Queen Is Crowned

        Olivia De Havilland | Leslie Howard | Vivien Leigh | Victor Saville
        Claude Rains | Clark Gable | Robert Taylor | Galleries




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