This post is for the Dynamic Duos blogathon currently being hosted by Once Upon a Screen and Classic Movie Hub and I’d highly encourage reading the entries from all the other fabulous bloggers. I apologize in advance if what I wrote below seems a bit disjointed. There is so much to say about the Oliviers that one could literally fill an entire book.
On May 22, 1960, Vivien Leigh released a shocking statement to the press: “Lady Olivier wishes to say that Sir Laurence has asked for a divorce in order to marry Miss Joan Plowright. She will naturally do whatever he wishes.” The reasons behind Olivier’s request remained unknown to the general public until 1977 – ten years after Vivien’s death – when biographer Anne Edwards revealed Vivien’s long-fought battle with manic depression (better known today as bipolar disorder) and Olivier’s inability to cope with the strain of her illness. In 1960, however, it was only clear that one of the most celebrated and respected relationships in show business had come to what seemed like an abrupt end. Many fans were so bowled over by the news that they decided to take matters into their own hands. Olivier’s papers in the British Library contain a multitude of hand-written letters from people around the globe imploring him not to go through with the divorce; they simply couldn’t handle the disillusionment.