Full Name: Laurence Kerr Olivier
Nicknames: Larry, Larry-Boy, Kim (family nickname, from the Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name)
Birthday: May 22, 1907, Dorking, Surrey, England
Hair Color: Dark Brown
Eye Color: Gray/Blue
Religion: Brought up an Anglican, Olivier practically renounced religion when he embarked on his affair with Vivien (raised a Roman Catholic). However, his ties to the church never really left him.
Political Stance: Conservative
Siblings: Gerard Dacres (also known as Dickie), Sybille (both older)
Parents: Gerard Kerr Olivier, a clergyman (who encouraged his youngest son to become an actor), and Agnes Louise Crookenden, who died when Larry was 12
Profession: Film and theatre actor, director, producer
Education: All Saints Choir School. His father decided he should be an actor after his brother, Richard, left for India to become a rubber planter
Marriages: Jill Esmond, 1930-August 30th, 1940; Vivien Leigh, August 30th, 1940-December, 1960; Joan Plowright, 1960-July 11, 1989
Children: Larry and Jill Esmond had a son named Simon Tarquin (they called him by his middle name), in 1936. He was step-father to Vivien Leigh’s daughter, Suzanne, though he and Vivien were unable to have children of their own. Much like Suzanne, Tarquin did not have a very close relationship with his father. Larry relinquished custody when he married Vivien Leigh. However, Vivien was determined to get he and his father to become closer during her marriage to Larry, and Tarquin became very close with his step-mother. He had three children by third wife, Joan Plowright: Richard, Tamsin and Julie-Kate. Larry was god-father to Victoria Tennent, Vanessa Redgrave, and Johnny Mills
Other Relationships: Larry had an affair with Claire Bloom and a younger actress named Dorothy Tutin in the late 1950′s. It is rumored that he had a ten year affair with actor Danny Kaye, however, both he and his son, Tarquin, denied this. The rumor first surfaced in Donald Spotto’s biography of Larry, but there doesn’t seem to be much proof of it according to other biographers. In his book Olivier: The Authorized Biography, author Terry Coleman presents evidence that Larry may have been romantically involved with an older actor named Henry Ainley in the early 1930s
Hobbies: Gardening, horseback riding, reading plays
Pets: Larry indulged Vivien with her favorite Siamese cats, which he liked, but he was also fond of dogs and horses. He kept the horse he rode in Henry V and brought it back to Notley. He and Vivien also had a few dogs that aren’t mentioned much. When married to Jill Esmond, Larry had a ring-tailed lemur named
Vices: smoking, cursing, drinking
Honors: Olivier was knighted by King George in 1947. He was 40 years old, making him the youngest British actor to receive the honor; co-director of the Old Vic COmpany, 1940′s; founding director of the Chichester Festival Theatre (1962-66); founding director of the Royal National Theatre (1962-73); in 1970 he became a Life Peer and was named Baron Laurence Olivier of Brighton; was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1981; The Olivier Awards, Britain’s version of the Tonys, was named after him
Awards: See the full list of awards and nominations HERE
Illnesses: For the last 20 years of his life, Laurence Olivier suffered numerous illnesses. Among these were prostate cancer, which he was being treated and hospitalized for in 1967 when he received the news that Vivien Leigh had died (he promptly discharged himself to go to her flat), kidey stones, and a crippling muscle disorder which ultimately killed him.
Death: July 11th, 1989 at his home in Steyning, West Sussex of complications from a muscle disorder. He was 82 years old.
Larry was interred in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey in London, next to other famous British artists such as Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, and Robert Browning. There had been a debate between whether he was going to be burries at the Abbey or across town at St. Paul’s. Westminster Abbey had a rule that people had to be dead for a certain length of time before they could be burried there, however once they were told he would be burried at St. Paul’s instead, the Abbey bent its rules so as not to lose out in the competition. The service was attended by many of Olivier’s famous colleagues and friends. Both his current wife, Joan Plowright, and his first wife, Jill Esmond, attended. The only one missing was Vivien. She had died 22 years earlier.
VivAndLarry.com is an historical archive and film blog dedicated to preserving the memories of classic screen and stage stars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, and to the discussion of classic Hollywood and world cinemas. The site is designed and edited by Kendra Bean, a film scholar, writer and photographer living in London. What you'll find here: A cabinet of curiosities brimming with vintage articles, video footage, the largest archive of Vivien Leigh and/or Laurence Olivier photos on the Web, and much, much more.
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The current header was designed and drawn by the brilliant Laura Loveday.
Read Vivien Leigh: Becoming Scarlett by Kendra Bean in issue no. 75 of Bright Lights Film Journal
Read Kendra's article Style Icon: Vivien Leigh at The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower
My running list of films watched in 2013.