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Vivien Leigh’s Mental Disorder Reportedly Caused Her Serial Infidelity & Ruined Life & Career

Gaone Pule
Oct 21, 2021
06:30 P.M.

British actress Vivien Leigh and actor Laurence Olivier’s romance was anything but perfect. Despite being married for two decades, the former couple had a toxic marriage.

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The Daily Mail reported Vivien Leigh, who played the iconic Scarlett O’Hara in the movie “Gone With the Wind,” as a serial bisexual adulterer.

A new biography revealed her marriage to Laurence Olivier was a sham as they both cheated on one another within months of being romantically linked in 1937.

Pictured: (From left) Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier pose for a publicity photo in 1939. Sir Laurence Olivier kisses wife Vivien Leigh in her New York theater dressing room in 2000 (right) | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: (From left) Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier pose for a publicity photo in 1939. Sir Laurence Olivier kisses wife Vivien Leigh in her New York theater dressing room in 2000 (right) | Photo: Getty Images

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SERIAL INFIDELITIES

Unpublished memoirs and witness accounts disclose at least three of Leigh’s same-sex conquests in “Damn You, Scarlett O’Hara,” which is set to be published in the United States.

Reports also stated that the biography describes her desire for rough trade – men picked up at a Los Angeles brothel called Scotty’s that posed as a petrol station.

A published source revealed Leigh and her friend George Cukor drove to Scotty’s in the 1940s and would pick out young gentlemen for the night.

Vivien Leigh appears in the play "Serena Blandish" at the Gate Theatre on September 15, 1938 in London | Photo: Getty Images

Vivien Leigh appears in the play "Serena Blandish" at the Gate Theatre on September 15, 1938 in London | Photo: Getty Images

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The source disclosed that the pair paid their conquests with gifts, including cigarette cases, jewels, or stocks and bonds. However, Leigh required them to be discreet and not reveal they had serviced her.

The actress was once kicked out of an Italian hotel for bringing in too many street boys. A source added she would have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder had she had access to modern mental health treatment.

However, since things were different back then, people did not know how to deal with the star. She even tore all her clothes and ran out of her house on one occasion.

Pictured: An undated image of English actor and director Sir Laurence Olivier, with his second wife, Vivien Leigh | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: An undated image of English actor and director Sir Laurence Olivier, with his second wife, Vivien Leigh | Photo: Getty Images

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The memoir is written by Darwin Porter, who knew Leigh in the 1960s, and Roy Moseley, Olivier’s former assistant. The authors had said this about the lovebirds:

"They were both beautiful, and both wanted more."

Pictured: British actress Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier pose for a publicity photo in 1939 | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: British actress Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier pose for a publicity photo in 1939 | Photo: Getty Images

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FAILED 1ST MARRIAGE & AFFAIR

They revealed Leigh used to torture Olivier with her affairs more after she grew mentally ill, depressed, and manic. In addition to her flings, she was also involved with fellow British actress Isabel Jeans and two other women.

Leigh was also involved with co-stars Marlon Brando and Rex Harrison. Before she met Olivier, the star was married to an older man, a barrister named Herbert Leigh Holman, at age nineteen.

At the time, she was still studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. She gave birth to her only child when she was 23 years old, a daughter named Suzanne, and returned to acting afterward.

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Pictured: A portrait of Academy Award-winning actress Vivien Leigh in 1937 | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: A portrait of Academy Award-winning actress Vivien Leigh in 1937 | Photo: Getty Images

While pursuing her career, Leigh fell for Olivier, 29, a rising star who had left his lesbian wife Jill Esmond for her. His marriage to Esmond lacked physical intimacy because she preferred women.

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However, that did not stop the former couple from conceiving a child. Esmond found out she was pregnant when she learned about her husband’s infidelity with Leigh in 1936. They welcomed their son Tarquin in August that year.

Pictured: Vivien Leigh about to kiss Laurence Olivier in a scene from a stage production of "Romeo and Juliet" in 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: Vivien Leigh about to kiss Laurence Olivier in a scene from a stage production of "Romeo and Juliet" in 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

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LEIGH & OLIVIER’S LOVE STORY

Leigh and Olivier married in 1940 in front of small guests in California, a year after “Gone with the Wind” led her to international stardom. Olivier said:

“I couldn’t help myself with Vivien. No man could. I hated myself for cheating on Jill, but then I had cheated before, but this was something different.”

He explained it was not lust but love, which he did not ask for but was drawn into. His biographers Terry Coleman and Michael Lunn alleged Oliver also cheated with other women during his affair with Leigh.

Pictured: Vivien Leigh sitting at table on the deck in a scene from the film "Ship Of Fools" in 1965 | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: Vivien Leigh sitting at table on the deck in a scene from the film "Ship Of Fools" in 1965 | Photo: Getty Images

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He and Leigh starred as lovers in “Fire Over England” and traveled to Denmark to perform “Hamlet” together. Upon returning to England, they informed their respective spouses that they were ending their marriages.

Soon after, they moved in together in Iver, Buckinghamshire, and shortly after that, they spent a month apart when Olivier moved to Hollywood in 1938 because of work.

Laurence Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh at a dinner table in the 1940's | Photo: Getty Images

Laurence Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh at a dinner table in the 1940's | Photo: Getty Images

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LOVE LETTERS

They wrote love letters to each other during that period, which are now held in the Victoria & Albert Museum archives. Olivier wrote in one:

“I woke up raging with desire for you.”

To which Leigh replied: “If we loved each other only with our bodies, I suppose it would be all right. I love you with much more than that. I love you with, oh everything somehow, with a special kind of soul.”

British couple Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier at the premiere of the film "Anna Karenina" at Leicester Square Garden on January 22, 1948 in London, United Kingdom | Photo: Getty Images

British couple Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier at the premiere of the film "Anna Karenina" at Leicester Square Garden on January 22, 1948 in London, United Kingdom | Photo: Getty Images

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Oliver later wrote to his love once again and said she was in his thoughts and heart all the time, adding, “I am only existing till I see you again, and only just managing to do that.”

Leigh joined him in California a month later, partially because he was there and partly because she wanted to play Scarlett O’Hara.

Since they could not get enough of each other, the duo tried to be together even professionally. However, it was a challenge as producer David O. Selznick believed it was best to keep their romance off-screen until their divorces were finalized.

Pictured: Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh after their arrival in England from Hollywood on January 1941 | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh after their arrival in England from Hollywood on January 1941 | Photo: Getty Images

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CRACKS IN THEIR MARRIAGE

In early 1940, both their marriages were dissolved by February. The pair walked down the aisle at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara in August that year.

Despite leaving their spouses for each other, their marriage, which spanned more than 20 years, crumbled because of extramarital affairs and mental illness.

Leigh developed a drinking problem, and her husband was bored of her smothering affections. English playwright Noel Coward said Olivier seemed unhappy at the time.

Pictured: Newlyweds Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier back at home after their wedding in Santa Barbara on September 3, 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: Newlyweds Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier back at home after their wedding in Santa Barbara on September 3, 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

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Despite the visible cracks within their union, its actual downfall occurred several years later, in 1948, when the couple completed a six-month tour in Australia. It was during that time that Olivier remarked that he had lost his wife.

Then, they met Australian actor Peter Finch with whom Leigh would have a years-long affair. Olivier hired Finch, and that gave him a reason to relocate to England.

Meanwhile, Leigh’s mental health deteriorated in the early 1950s, and her husband would often find her inconsolable, sitting on the corner of the bed, sobbing in distress.

Pictured: A head shot of English stage and film actress, Vivien Leigh in 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: A head shot of English stage and film actress, Vivien Leigh in 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

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THE TRAGEDY

Her manic depression proved an “uncannily evil monster.” Even after admitting to cheating with Finch in 1953, she and Olivier kept fighting for their marriage.

Leigh learned she was expecting in 1956 and resigned from her role in a play. Tragically, she suffered a miscarriage the day after her last performance.

The incident triggered a deep depression that lasted for months. As a result, Olivier began an affair with actress Joan Plowright, a married woman who was 22 years his junior.

Vivien Leigh and her husband Laurence Olivier, arrive at Holy Trinity Church in London for the wedding of her daughter by a former marriage, Suzanne Holman, to Robin Farrington on December 6, 1957 | Photo: Getty Images

Vivien Leigh and her husband Laurence Olivier, arrive at Holy Trinity Church in London for the wedding of her daughter by a former marriage, Suzanne Holman, to Robin Farrington on December 6, 1957 | Photo: Getty Images

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THEIR SPLIT

While Leigh’s emotional instability became worse, by 1960, she threatened to commit suicide. She and Olivier eventually separated, and their divorce proceedings started in May 1960. They finalized it that December.

Soon after, Olivier, then 53, remarried Plowright, 31, and the couple welcomed a son a year later and two daughters in the years that followed.

In September 2013, Olivier’s secret lover Sarah Miles whom he had an on and off relationship with for 20 years, revealed he confessed to almost killing Leigh.

Actress Vivien Leigh in a costume on the set of the film "Gone With the Wind," in 1939 | Photo: Getty Images

Actress Vivien Leigh in a costume on the set of the film "Gone With the Wind," in 1939 | Photo: Getty Images

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OLIVIER WAS VIOLENT

Miles shared the Oscar-winning actor had told her stories about his former wife, including her mental health. She said he described her in a disturbing, cruel light.

However, Olivier too had a dark side to him, and she revealed he once told her that before he and Leigh split for good, he had pushed her aside during a row, and she accidentally slipped and fell into the fireplace hitting her head. She said:

“Larry thought he had killed her. When Vivien came around, he swore that if he didn’t part from her, next time, he surely would kill her.”

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Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier entertaining millionaire Sir Victor Sassoon on the set of "Waterloo Bridge," in 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier entertaining millionaire Sir Victor Sassoon on the set of "Waterloo Bridge," in 1940 | Photo: Getty Images

LEIGH’S CAREER

Apart from her rocky Hollywood love story with Olivier, Leigh was best known for her Oscar-winning roles in 1939’s “Gone With the Wind” and “Streetcar Named Desire” (1951).

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She often portrayed women in unhappy marriages on-screen, such as Scarlett O’Hara, Lady Hamilton, and Anna Karenina.

Leigh was born Vivien Mary Hartley on November 5, 1913, in Darjeeling, India. She and her parents resided in India for six years because of World War I but later headed home to England.

Pictured: Vivien Leigh all dressed up on May 16, 1935 in London, England | Photo: Getty Images

Pictured: Vivien Leigh all dressed up on May 16, 1935 in London, England | Photo: Getty Images

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SHE & HER DAUGHTER’S PASSING

Sadly, Leigh died in 1967 at age 53 from tuberculosis after contracting it in Africa in the 1940s. Her daughter Suzanne Farrington also passed on at age 81.

She and her mother had a troublesome relationship as Leigh put her career before her and even married Olivier, leaving her and Holman behind.

Moreso, Farrington also lived a private life away from the prying eyes of the public. She was married to Robin Farrington and had three sons. Suzanne was born in a London nursing home on October 10, 1933, and died on March 1, 2015.

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