Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier

Baron Olivier English actor and director
Date of Birth: 22.05.1907
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of Laurence Olivier
  2. Introduction and Early Life
  3. Early Acting Career
  4. Marriage and Film Career
  5. World War II and Later Career
  6. Personal Life and Legacy

Biography of Laurence Olivier

Introduction and Early Life

Laurence Olivier, also known as Baron Olivier, was an English actor and director. He was born on May 22, 1907, in the English town of Dorking. Olivier came from a family of French Huguenot descent, who had settled in England generations ago. His family had a long history of serving in the church. Olivier's father, Gerard Olivier, was a stern priest, while his mother, Agnes Louise Crookenden, passed away when he was just a child. Olivier had two siblings, a sister named Sybil and a brother named Gerard.

Laurence Olivier

Early Acting Career

Olivier first stepped onto the stage at the age of 9, playing the role of Brutus in a school production of "Julius Caesar." His performance was praised by renowned actress Ellen Terry. At the age of 13, Olivier attended St. Edward's School in Oxford, where he showcased his acting skills in school productions of Shakespearean plays like "The Taming of the Shrew" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." His success convinced his father that he should pursue a career in acting.

Laurence Olivier

After finishing school, Olivier enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. After graduating, he joined the "Repertory" theater company in Birmingham. Within a year, he became a leading actor, playing roles such as Hamlet and Macbeth.

Laurence Olivier

Marriage and Film Career

In 1930, Olivier married aspiring actress Jill Esmond, with whom he had a son named Tarquin. During this time, he also made his film debut, appearing in movies such as "Temporary Widow" and "The Yellow Ticket." However, Olivier's true passion remained the stage, where he excelled in portraying Shakespearean characters.

It was during a performance of "Romeo and Juliet" that Olivier met and became friends with young actress Vivien Leigh. This marked the beginning of their turbulent love affair, which eventually led to the end of his marriage to Esmond. Olivier and Leigh appeared in several successful stage productions together, including Olivier's production of "Hamlet," in which Leigh played Ophelia.

In 1939, Olivier and Leigh traveled to the United States. Olivier appeared in the Broadway production of "No Time for Comedy" and starred in the film adaptation of "Wuthering Heights," while Leigh landed the iconic role of Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone with the Wind." However, the outbreak of World War II disrupted their careers.

World War II and Later Career

During the war, Olivier enlisted in the Royal Air Force. While he received military training and held the rank of lieutenant, he did not participate in any combat missions. In fact, he continued performing in theater productions as part of the war effort. In 1940, Olivier and Leigh finally legalized their relationship with a small wedding ceremony.

After the war, Olivier's career continued to flourish. He reached the pinnacle of his success when he won two Academy Awards in 1948 for his performance and direction in the film adaptation of "Hamlet." This achievement solidified his reputation as one of the greatest actors of his time. Olivier also founded the National Theatre in the early 1960s and served as its director for many years.

Personal Life and Legacy

Olivier's marriage to Leigh ended in 1960, and he embarked on a relationship with actress Joan Plowright. They had three children together. Throughout his life, Olivier maintained a good relationship with his first wife and son.

Laurence Olivier received numerous accolades throughout his career, including a knighthood in 1947, elevation to the peerage in 1970, and the Order of Merit in 1980. He passed away on July 11, 1989, leaving behind a remarkable legacy. Olivier's final film, "War Requiem," was released in 1989, and he was digitally recreated for the film "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" in 2004. His ashes were interred in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.