Leigh, Vivien

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Leigh, Vivien Gender: F
Vivian Mary Hartley
born on 5 November 1913 at 17:16 (= 5:16 PM )
Place Darjeeling, India, 27n02, 88e16
Timezone LST m88e20 (is standard time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Holliday
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_scocol.18.gif 12°27' s_mo.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 09°06 Asc.s_taucol.18.gif 13°54'

Portrait of Vivien Leigh 
(click to view image source)
Vivien Leigh
license fair-use


British actress born in India who became the first actress from England to receive the Oscar award for Best Actress, 1939. Relatively unknown, she won the coveted role of Scarlet O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind" over Hollywood's more well-known American actresses. She was informed of the producer's choice for her to play the role on Christmas Day in 1938 and the three stars of the film signed their contracts on 1/13/1939. Leigh went on to play film and theatrical roles opposite her famous and talented husband actor Lawrence Olivier. In 1951, she earned her second Oscar with her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Her personal life and career would be derailed with her bouts of mental illness in the 1950s and 1960s.

Leigh was a brunette beauty, the blue-eyed daughter of Ernest Hartley and his devoted Catholic wife, Gertrude. Hartley had moved to India around the turn of the century and worked as a colonial stockbroker in Darjeeling, India. He enjoyed his leisure activity of performing in the British Amateur Theatrical Society. On returning to England to visit his parents, the sun-tanned colonial captured the heart of his future wife and she returned with him to India. After Vivien's birth, her mother tried to raise her daughter with a solid Catholic foundation. In September 1920, she was sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart near London for her education. At her convent school, Leigh met her new school friend, the future film star Maureen O'Sullivan. Well-educated and an avid reader, she later learned to enjoy lavish entertaining for her friends.

At 18, Leigh completed her education at an Italian finishing school. Encouraged to follow her dreams by her dad, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1932, she met Leigh Holman, a lawyer 13 years her senior. The couple married on 12/20/1932. Leigh went back to study at RADA. On 10/12/1933, her acting training was interrupted with the birth of her only child, Suzanne. Upon graduating from the Academy, Leigh obtained her first stage role in "The Green Sash."

Leigh became an overnight star with her performance in London's West End with "The Mask of Virtue" in 1935. With her excellent critical reviews, Leigh introduced herself to the dashing, leading actor of London's West End, Lawrence Olivier. Impressed with her work, he collaborated with her in the films, "Fire Over England," 1936 and "Hamlet," 1937. After Olivier left to Hollywood in 1938 to star in "Wuthering Heights," Leigh followed him in December, and captured the role of the Scarlet O'Hara.

Leigh worked in the films, "That Hamilton Woman," 1941, "Caesar and Cleopatra," 1946, "Anna Karenina," 1948, and "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" in 1961. In 1945, while performing in the play "The Skin of Our Teeth" Leigh suffered with tuberculosis. In 1949, Leigh turned in her performance of Blanche DuBois in the London version of "A Streetcar Named Desire." She performed the role on film in 1951 with Kim Stanley and Marlon Brando. In 1948, she went on a theatrical tour of Australia with Olivier. In 1955, she performed onstage at Stratford in "MacBeth" and "Titus Andronicus" with her husband. Suffering from manic-depression, Leigh's career slowed down while she went in and out of mental hospitals receiving frequent electric shock treatments. She made her last film, "Ship of Fools" in 1965 two years before her death.

During her marriage to her first husband, Leigh Holman, Leigh began her affair with Olivier, during the filming of "Fire Over England," 1936. At the time, Olivier was married to the actress Jill Esmond. After returning from Denmark in 1937 from filming "Hamlet," the couple settled into their Chelsea love nest waiting for their spouses to agree to divorce. They finally married on 9/01/1940 in Santa Barbara, California. In July 1944, Leigh was heartbroken when she suffered a miscarriage. During their 23 turbulent years together, Olivier began to detect his wife's spells of mental illness. She once ripped off her clothes in terror, physically attacked the people whom she loved, and began to use the vilest language when angered. In 1953, she had a manic attack in Ceylon and sent to a mental hospital in Surrey, England. With this nervous breakdown, she was diagnosed as manic-depressive. The woman who loved to be surrounded by people lapsed into longer periods of depression. The couple divorced in 1961. In her later years, she was nearly catatonic from shock therapy given her as treatment for manic depression.

While using medications for control in the '60s, she began a relationship with the actor Jack Merivale but never quite got over losing her husband. Leigh kept Olivier's picture on her bedside table until her death. In May 1967, Leigh learned that both of her lungs were affected by tuberculosis. On 7/07/1967, her lover Jack Merivale arrived at her 53 Eaton Square London flat to check on her health. He arrived at 11:10 PM after his performance on a West End play and noticed she was fast asleep. At 11:25 PM, he found her lying face down between the door and her bed not breathing. Olivier arrived to sit with Merivale while the authorities moved her body from the flat, and she was declared dead on 7/08/1967, of TB.

A thin, delicate, and petite woman, Leigh in person was reminiscent of delicate Dresden porcelain. Though the role of Scarlet O'Hara was the epitome of her career, she found that the attention given to her because of that role limited her acting range on stage and screen.

Link to Wikipedia biography



  • Social : Begin a program of study September 1920 (Sent to convent for education)
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  • Relationship : Marriage 20 December 1932 (First marriage Leigh Holman)
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  • Family : Change in family responsibilities 12 October 1933 (Daughter Suzanne born)
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  • Relationship : Begin significant relationship 1936 (Began her affair with Olivier)
  • Misc. : Released from waiting 25 December 1938 (Informed that she had won role)
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  • Work : Contracts, agreements 13 January 1939 (Signed GWTW contract)
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  • Work : Prize 1940 (Oscar for GWTW)
  • Relationship : Marriage 1 September 1940 in Santa Barbara (Lawrence Olivier)
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  • Health : Medical diagnosis July 1944 (Suffered a miscarriage)
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  • Health : Medical diagnosis 1945 (Started suffering with TB)
  • Work : Prize 1951 (Oscar for Streetcar Named Desire)
  • Mental Health : Anxiety attack 1953 (Sent to mental inst. following attack)
  • Relationship : Divorce dates 1961 (From Lawrence)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1965 (Last film "Ship of Fools")
  • Death by Disease 8 July 1967 at 11:25 AM in London (Tuberculosis, age 53)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Dana Holliday quotes Cottrell, "Lawrence Olivier," 1975, for Leigh's time of birth as, "sunset" (Sunset time given by courtesy of the Los Angeles Library Science Dept. PC gives sunset as 5:30 PM IST, adding that Sabian Symbols gives 3:00 AM. Sabian Symbols No.563 has no time specified.)

Data given as LMT.

Sy Scholfield quotes "The Oliviers: A Biography" by Felix Barker (Hamish Hamilton, 1953), pp. 77-78: "Far away to the north towered the great snow-capped peaks of Everest and Kanchenjunga; and not long after the sun had disappeared, the doctor came downstairs with the news that it was a girl. . . Vivian Mary Hartley was born."


  • Traits : Body : Appearance gorgeous
  • Traits : Body : Hair (Brunette)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Tuberculosis (Terminal)
  • Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Treatment/Therapy (Shock treatments for mental illness)
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Bi-Polar Disorder (Manic-Depressive)
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Depression
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage more than 15 Yrs (23 years with Olivier)
  • Family : Relationship : Mate - Noted (Lawrence Olivier)
  • Family : Relationship : Sexual chemistry (Dynamic attraction)
  • Family : Relationship : Stress - Chronic misery (Turbulent marriage)
  • Family : Parenting : Birthing - Miscarriages (One miscarriage)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids 1-3 (One daughter, only child)
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Actor/ Actress
  • Vocation : Entertainment : Live Stage (Secondary)
  • Notable : Awards : Oscar (Two)
  • Notable : Book Collection : American Book