5 thoughts on “Vivien Leigh – Birthday Girl & Badass Babe

  1. Thank you for this post. Vivien Leigh is one of my favorite actresses and Gone With The Wind one of my favorite films. Her autobiography is a terrific read and gives a much more in depth look at what mental illness can do to a person.

    1. I remember years ago my mom saying that Leigh died because of alcoholism… It’s interesting that it was more socially acceptable to say she drank herself to death than to say she suffered from poorly managed, probably unmedicated mental illness.

  2. I love to say “I won’t think about this today, I’ll think about it tomorrah” when anything goes wonky in my costume shop.

    “Gone With the Wind” was one of my favorite movie growing up. My family owns a first edition of the book and a letter from Margaret Mitchell to my grandfather (she answered ALL her fan mail) and I think I must have read it for times.

    Point being, this movie was massively influential on me as well, despite its many issues. Thanks for this! I didn’t know much about Vivien Leigh!

    1. The book and film were a product of their times. It’s hard to look at them now without being cynical about all of the things they excluded from the history of that era (Selznick apparently vetoed filming Frank Kennedy fetching the Klu Klux Klan to get revenge on Scarlett’s assault, saying he had no desire to remake Birth of a Nation), BUT… I really don’t think we should discard either the film or the book because they aren’t portraying a realistic view of the South, slavery, and the Civil War.

      I think in this day and age, the desire to deconstruct GWTW and problematize it is healthy. It shouldn’t take away from the cultural impact it had on film history, either.

  3. Vivien Leigh…(Le Sigh) How I love her so! Her body of film work was small, but she certainly made her presence known, didn’t she? Her life was the agony and the ecstasy, for sure! I could talk for hours about her. She said she was nothing like Scarlett or Blanche, when in fact, she was everything like them, from an early, ill-conceived marriage, to not being particularly cut out for motherhood, to her all-consuming ambition, to her passions running hot and cold, to her mental instability, she embodied them to the point that she had us wondering if life was imitating art or vice-versa. Even her last movies, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and Ship of Fools, had her laying it all out there for us…being a woman in your 40s and being told you are OLD and past your prime. Her fears of aging in reality are palpable in those films.

    I have many Screen Queen Woman Crushes, but nobody gets to me like Vivien. I saw a documentary where one of her friends from the “Viv and Larry” days at Notley Abbey said that she could be at once the most charming and enchanting creature you ever met…that their pet name for her was “Vivi-ling” and they used this word as a verb also, that she would set about the room “vivi-ling” everyone and they would all fall in love with her…but that she was dangerous when crossed, like a scorpion. She possessed a tongue and a wit that could cut to the quick when she wanted. Of course as her bipolar disorder took stronger and stronger hold of her, this was heightened, and she would go out of control and lash out harshest at those that loved her the most. Then she would come out of it and feel horrible and write letters of apology and send gifts to those she had hurt. It was, of course, too little, too late, and she alienated almost everyone. Tragic! And, ahem…shades of Scarlett, for sure!

    On a more superficial note, I think one of the things that makes Vivien so lovely is her hairline. Nobody else has a hairline like that, and it looked so striking in those pulled back period hairstyles…oh well, I will stop there. Again, she didn’t make many movies, but she made THE movie, so what else really matters? Kisses to Vivien!

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