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On this day in history, November 5, 1913, iconic actress Vivien Leigh is born in India


Vivien Leigh, whose birth name was Vivian Mary Hartley, was born on this day in history on Nov. 5, 1913, in Darjeeling, India. 

Her father was an English stockbroker and her mother was Irish, according to Biography.com. 

The British actress achieved film immortality by playing two of American literature‘s most celebrated Southern belles, the same source notes.

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Leigh made her first stage appearance at the age of three, reciting “Little Bo Peep” for her mother’s amateur theater group, as the Hollywood Walk of Fame said.

The family relocated to England when she was a young girl.

Poster of "Gone with the Wind"

A “Gone with the Wind” poster showing Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, 1939. The fiery collapse of Atlanta served as the climactic backdrop of the American epic.  (LMPC via Getty Images)

An only child, she was sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Roehampton, England. 

One of her friends at that school was future actress Maureen O’Sullivan, to whom she expressed her desire to become “a great actress,” according to several sources.

In 1932, Leigh enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art — and became engaged to Herbert Leigh Holman. 

Leigh achieved international stardom for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” in 1939, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. 

The couple married later that year and she adopted his middle name as her stage surname.

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She also changed the spelling of her name from Vivian to Vivien to become Vivien Leigh, as Encyclopedia.com noted.

The couple had one child, Suzanne Farrington.

"Gone with the Wind" climactic scene

In “Gone with the Wind,” the hero and heroine drive through the burning city of Atlanta in this dramatic scene from the MGM film.  (MGM Studios/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

They divorced in 1940.

That same year, Leigh married actor Laurence Olivier, and the couple eventually divorced in 1960, the same source indicated.

Leigh’s mental health began to decline in the early 1950s, and Olivier would often find her “inconsolable … sitting on the corner of the bed, wringing her hands and sobbing, in a state of grave distress,” Olivier wrote in his autobiography, according to Country Living Magazine. 

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Leigh achieved international stardom for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” in 1939, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. 

Gone with the Wind

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in a publicity still for the film, “Gone with the Wind,” 1939. The drama, directed by Victor Fleming (1889-1949), starred Gable as Rhett Butler and Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara. Leigh won an Oscar for best actress for this role.  (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

She then won a second Oscar in 1951 for her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in the film version of “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams, according to multiple sources. 

Later in her career, Leigh suffered from mental illness — and was eventually diagnosed with manic depression, according to Biography.com.

In addition to her film success, Leigh was a prolific stage performer, frequently in collaboration with her then-husband, Laurence Olivier, who directed her in several of her roles, according to The Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Hollywood Sign on mountain

In addition to her film success, Leigh was a prolific stage performer, frequently in collaboration with her then-husband, Laurence Olivier, who directed her in several of her roles. (AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

During her 30-year stage career, she played roles ranging from the heroines of Noël Coward and George Bernard Shaw comedies to classic Shakespearean characters such as Ophelia, Cleopatra, Juliet and Lady Macbeth, the same source recounted. 

While rehearsing for a London production of “A Delicate Balance” in 1967, Leigh fell ill, and shortly after succumbed to tuberculosis on July 8, 1967, at the age of 53, in London, according to Biography.com.

Her career was both tumultuous and triumphant. 

Following her death, to mark a both a sad and premature end to a career that was both tumultuous and triumphant, the London theater district blacked out its lights for a full hour in Leigh’s honor, the same source said.

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In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London purchased her personal archives.

They include her personal diaries and previously unseen photographs, Biography.com noted.

Leigh’s legacy lives on. 

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When the digitally restored “Gone with the Wind” was released in 2014, a new generation discovered the beauty and bravery of Vivien Leigh — whom Marie Claire magazine called one of the world’s most legendary actresses.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit foxnews.com/lifestyle.



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