Tuberculosis, depression and a lonely childhood: the stormy story of Vivien Leigh, the protagonist of “Gone with the Wind”

She was considered “the most beautiful actress in Hollywood”, she avoided the nickname of “star” and in addition to the film based on the book by Margaret Mitchell, she starred in “A streetcar named Desire”

Determined, dark and strong, especially strong. So they were Vivien Leigh and Scarlett O’Hara, his mythical character in gone With the Wind that made her deserving of an Oscar and made her a star, although she did not like to be called that, since she said she was an actress and said that “stars have a false existence.”

The awards, the success, the fame and the nickname of «lthe most beautiful woman in Hollywood ”, they hid a sad and stormy life, with a lonely childhood, superfluous romances, a depression that took her away from the film sets and a Tuberculosis that ended her life prematurely.

Vivien and Scarlett had to become resistant by force to overcome the shocks of life. Although her name is legend, Leigh filmed only 19 movies, between them gone With the Wind (1939, based on Margaret Mitchell’s book) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), both for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress

His childhood had nothing to do with that of his alter ego in fiction. Until the Civil War began, Scartlett had had everything on a platter. The daughter of an aristocratic family, she was her father’s spoiled child and no one could say no to her requests.

Conversely, Vivien Mary Hartley, as her real name was, had a very lonely childhood. Was born in HimalayaAlthough her roots were Irish and at the age of six her parents decided to commit her to a convent in England. With them living in India, they went to visit her just four years later, they saw the little girl only once a year, hopefully. They just went to look for her when she was thirteen years old and the family made an extensive tour of Europe.

Gone with the Wind – How Scarlett and Rhett Met

Scarlett was obsessed with Ashley Wilks, a well-off and committed man, who finally gets married, showing the protagonist that he couldn’t always have what he wanted. Although his true love was Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), their characters so similar made that many times they disagreed and jeopardized their relationship. Even the protagonist, to get money to protect her family and support Tara (the land her father left her) she married her sister’s fiancé.

Atlanta revolutionized by the premiere of Gone with the Wind

Vivien had several romances, but two great loves: Herbert Leigh Holman y Laurence Olivier. With the first she married and had a daughter, Suzanne. As soon as she saw it she fell in love, but he was engaged. At that moment she assured her friends that this man would be hers. Unlike Scarlett with Ashley, Vivien made it.

They divorced in 1940, after having been a lover for several years of Olivier . That same year she married her new suitor and, strikingly, the possession of the daughter that she had had with her first husband, was left to him.

Eight years later lived a fleeting romance with Peter Finch, also an actor. Even so, her husband asked if they could continue together, since she loved him, but as a friend. After years of being with a woman who didn’t love him, Olivier asked for a divorce, only in 1960. PBy then, she had already overcome several depressive crises and was living a new romance with actor John Merivale.

Two diseases, one destiny

In 1935 the actress contracted Tuberculosis and was on the verge of death. Ten years later, when it seemed like an issue, Vivien had a strong relapse. That, added to the loss of two pregnancies plunged her into a deep depression that caused her to withdraw from acting on several occasions.

He had to abandon the filming of Elephants Walk in 1954 since I had started to mix up the dialogues. On the plane back to her home in California, Olivier was with her, who despite her slights remained unconditional. There the actress had a nervous breakdown, took off her clothes and even threatened to jump into the void.

Her husband decided to commit her to a London psychiatric hospital, from which she only left several months later. By 1963 her life seemed to be heading again and she had won an award Tony for his role in the musical Broadway Comrade. But nevertheless, a new depressive crisis led her to give up the piece. A similar episode lived in 1966, when he returned to the ring and starred Ivanov.

Gone with the Wind – Scarlett Seeks Strength in Tara

Again haunted her by the ghost of the TuberculosisEvery time he coughed, his chest ached, he was weak, and he had lost several kilos. There was no medicine or treatment that could end his health problems and depression. On July 7, at just 53 years old, Vivien stopped breathing in her sleep.

He died in the solitude of his room. Neither the two Oscars, nor fame, nor being “the most beautiful actress in Hollywood” helped her deal with the two illnesses that plagued her for three decades, more than half of her life. His name is already a legend, as are Scarlett’s blue eyes.

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Tuberculosis, depression and a lonely childhood: the stormy story of Vivien Leigh, the protagonist of “Gone with the Wind”