Author: Kendra

classic film general discussion photography vivien leigh

Everybody Else’s Girl

London’s National Portrait Gallery recently added some new Vivien Leigh photos to their online collection, which in itself always makes me really excited because they hide these things away and don’t display them for the public in the museum, so whenever they do put new ones up on the website, it’s like a discovery for me.

There are some beautiful sets of Vivien in the 1930s, but please allow me to flail over this particular one right now.  This set by Cyril Arapoff taken around 1936, is one of the most ethereal things I think I’ve ever seen.  I absolutely love the contrast of the lighting and shadows, and the fact that Vivien is not all dolled up.  Tricia commented on my personal blog yesterday that the expressions Vivien has in these photos are almost somber.  I have to agree. But look at how beautiful she is, and the contrast between the beauty of her face and her sweater, which is very plain in black and white (even though $10 says it was a bright color), is great.  Despite the grainy quality (or maybe because of it), these feel very modern to me, and this might be my new favorite set of Vivien.  They’re so different than most of the portraits we see of her.  Ah, variety!  The spice of life.

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classic film general discussion laurence olivier vivien leigh

Collecta-Belle: Autographs

I find old celebrity autographs to be really interesting.  The first one I ever got was Lauren Bacall at a book signing she did for her book By Myself And Then Some at Book Soup in Hollywood.  It was an adventure for sure, and she was quite intimidating (and it didn’t help that I made a total ass of myself in front of her.  I had planned to mention how I loved her and Bogie but all that came out of my mouth was “You were good friends with Larry and Vivien”.  FAIL).  Of course all of my other favorite celebrities are dead, so acquiring autographs took some work and a bit of good luck, along with the kindness of strangers.

I thought I’d share my collection thus far.  It’s not overly big, but I love it!

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Noel Coward: The Pleasure of His Company

One of my favorite things about living near Los Angeles is all of the fun events and screenings that are put on by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  Currently, they’re hosting an exhibition about the “Master,” called “Star Quality: The World of Noel Coward.”  Noel Coward is one of many people who’s work I became familiar with through my fascination with the Oliviers, as he was a long-time friend of both Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier.  He was a famous playwright and teamed up with director David Lean in the 1940s to produce what have become two of my favorite films, Brief Encounter and Blithe Spirit.  Laurence Olivier’s stage career was practically launched by Noel, who gave him the part of Victor Prynne in Private Lives in 1932, and Vivien Leigh worked with him in the 1956 production of South Sea Bubble and again in the 1959 play Look After Lulu.

Noel by Louis Athol-Shmith

I’ve been on quite a Noel Coward kick for a couple of years now.  Just this Christmas I received The Noel Coward Diaries, and saw a fabulous documentary called The Noel Coward Trilogy, in which Noel’s partner, Graham Payne, said Laurence Olivier liked to smoke a bowl whenever he and Vivien visited Noel at Blue Harbor in Jamaica, which I thought was hilarious.  Though Noel had a lot to say about the Oliviers in his diaries, it is quite hard to find longer passages of people, especially Vivien Leigh, talking about Noel.  Luckily for your reading pleasure, I’ve found a terrific story by Vivien.  This is from a collection of remembrances about Noel called The Pleasure of His Company: Noel Coward Remembered by William Marchant.  I think this story really shows something of Vivien’s friendly character.

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classic film general discussion laurence olivier the oliviers vivien leigh

Missed Connections

A while back, my friend Tanguy, knowing my love for foreign epic amazingness, recommended I watch a film called The Leopard (Il Gattopardo), starring Alain Delon, Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinalle, and directed by Luchino Visconti.  I finally got it yesterday via Netflix, and decided to google it to see if I could find out any interesting facts.  Landing on the wikipedia article about the film, I was surprised to see this:

When Visconti was told by producers that they needed to cast a star in order to help to ensure that they’d earn enough money to justify the big budget, Visconti’s first choice was one of the Soviet Union’s preeminent actors, Nikolai Cherkasov. Learning that Cherkasov was in no condition, health-wise, to take the part, Visconti then set his hopes on getting Laurence Olivier, but he already had another commitment.


How many times have I read that Laurence Olivier was offered a part, or the director had him in mind, but he was doing something else at the time and so another actor ended up playing the character?  A lot.  The same goes for Vivien Leigh.

This got me thinking about Larry and Vivien’s missed connections, i.e. parts that they were offered or planned to do, but it just didn’t work out.  Here’s a little list I put together:

Clive Candy in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Clive Candy in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).  Director Michael Powell, who had worked with Olivier on the 1941 film 49th Parallel, wanted him for the role of Clive Candy.  Larry was in the navy and couldn’t get leave to do the film.  The part was eventually played by Roger Livesey.  Livesey actually played Larry’s father in The Entertainer (1960), even though he was only a year Larry’s senior.

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classic film general discussion laurence olivier the oliviers vivien leigh

Revealing David Niven’s “Missie”

David Niven wrote two of the best “autobiographies” out of anyone in show business.  His first book, The Moon’s A Balloon, is a straight autobiography.  His second book, Bring on the Empty Horses is a compilation of stories about his famous friends.  In Bring on the Empty Horses, Niven tells the story of a famous girl named “Missie” who had a terrible breakdown in Hollywood (there were actually two ‘Missies” in his book but we’re focusing on the second one today).  Whenever I check the stats for vivandlarry.com, it’s amazing how many people land on the site through a google search for “David Niven Who Is Missie?”

The cat’s out of the bag; “Missie” was Vivien Leigh.

Vivien Leigh aka Missie

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