Vivien Leigh and Scarlet O’Hara, two women and a tragic fate

Madrid. (EFE) .- Although she was British, her unforgettable Scarlet O’Hara made her go down in history as the embodiment of the tragic and impetuous beauty of the American South, qualities that also marked the real life of Vivien Leigh, which on November 5 would have turned one hundred years old.

As unfortunate as the fate of that southern heroine was the future of the actress, several times subjected to electroshock treatments for a misdiagnosed bipolar disorder, and died of tuberculosis at only 54 years old, according to José Madrid in the biography “Vivien Leigh , the tragedy of Scarlett O’Hara “.

The stubbornness and rebellion that he also shared with the character helped him land that role, which he discovered at age 23 when, resting after a ski accident, he devoured the thousand-page novel by Margaret Mitchell that had revolutionized the United States that summer from 1936.

When he learned that, on the other side of the Atlantic, David O. Selznick was looking to put a face to the rich and capricious Scarlet, he found an agent in the United States and did not stop until he got an appointment with the great producer, who had already started filming of his epic delirium.
The actress was so clear that she would be Scarlet, a role that earned her her first Oscar, that at the beginning of her American adventure she refused to be under the direction of Cecil B. de Mille in “Union Pacific” and a contract with Paramount for four films, just to be available.

The young and married Leigh made the same effort to pursue Laurence Olivier, convinced that he would be the great love of her life.
He, too, was married when the then promising theater actress appeared by surprise, simulating a chance meeting, at the same hotel in Capri where he was spending a few days on vacation with his wife.

Thus began a long and not always easy love story, which would eventually darken with mutual infidelities and which ended up falling apart weeks after the Sir of the British scene gave him a blue Rolls Royce for his 45th birthday.
Leigh also demonstrated character when in 1957 he led a protest to save the Saint James Theater from demolition, for a project to build apartments, and even shouted into the House of Lords, which led Winston Churchill himself to write a letter admiring him. his courage and disapproving of his ways.

But it was not just the character of Scarlet that bore similarities to his life. The heartbreaking Blanche Dubois, her controversial sexual tendencies and her mental imbalance in Elia Kazan’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” were a dark harbinger of her days.

Gigolo and pimp Scotty Bowers recounts in “Full Service. The Secret Sex Lives of Hollywood Stars” that both Leigh and Olivier were bisexual and that they both used their services frequently.
“She was hot. A hot woman. Very sexual and very excitable. Putting it into work demanded full and complete satisfaction. That night we fucked as if the survival of the planet depended on it,” Bowers writes about the actress.

That role in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, along with Marlon Brando, gave him his second Oscar, but it also exacerbated his nervous breakdowns to such an extent that in his next shoot, “The Elephants’ Path”, he ended up being replaced by Elizabeth Taylor , after several attacks of hysteria and forgetfulness of the script.

Vivien Leigh’s complete filmography has barely twenty titles, such as “The Deep Blue Sea” (1955) or an “Ana Karenina” (1948) that received worse reviews than that of Greta Garbo.
And it is that the interpreter with green and glassy eyes never abandoned the theater, her passion since she was a child.

The reward came, albeit late, in the form of a Tony for best actress for her performance in the musical “Tovarich” (1963), despite the fact that her health was already very delicate and she even fainted on stage.
After a notorious divorce that was a national matter, the last years of her life were spent with fellow actor John Merivale, never losing contact with her first husband, Leigh Holman, and father of her only daughter, Suzanne.

One hundred years after his birth in British India, Leigh’s legacy remains in the form of indelible sequences and phrases that are among the most mythical in the history of cinema, such as “I testify to God that I will never go hungry again” or “I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will be another day.”

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Vivien Leigh and Scarlet O’Hara, two women and a tragic fate