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I’ve added a new article to the Vivien Leigh Article Database- here’s a sneak peek! I found it interesting that she said Cleopatra was her favorite role. She talks about Scarlett, the critics, and the best compliment she’s ever received.

Written by: Alan Dent

Appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, July 9, 1961

The dismantled music hall would have been a somewhat depressing ambiance if it had not been for the presence of Vivien Leigh in a white crinoline, reclining in a yellow armchair.

She was talking to me between scenes of Dumas’s “The Lady of the Camellias,”  being rehearsed at the Finsbury Park Empire before leaving for Australia to begin a two-year tour with a specially chosen Old Vic company. This opens on Wednesday with “Duel of Angels.”

“Let me babble.” she said  babbled delectably of what might almost be described as the grandest tour ever. The first part takes in the Antipodes and the far East, Tokyo, Manila, Bombay, Bangkok. Then, after a rest at home, in 1962, “we begin the second half of the world tour starting in Paris where we have been invited to play in Jean-LouisBarrault’s theatre. Furthermore when I introduced myself to Madam Furtszeva the other day she said she would be delighted if we went to Russia, and I hope that will be arranged. From there onwards the tour is planned to take in South and North America.

“The idea of this tour was mine originally,” she said “I suggested  it to Bobby Helpmann, who suggested it to the Old Vic which could hardly agree more.  About half of the company are Old Vic players.”

Besides the Dumas, the touring repertoire  will include “Twelfth Night” and Giraudoux “Duel of Angels.”

The success of the latter, a “difficult” play, did not surprised her as much as it has surprised some other people.

” The first time I read it- there are only two new plays I have ever read which have kept me awake- one was ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ by Thornton Wilder and the other was ‘Duel of Angels.’ I remember telephoningBinkie Beaumont the next morning and saying ‘I want to do it. I don’t mind which part I play. I just think it is the most wonderful play.”

To continue reading this article, please visit the Vivien Leigh Article Database, or CLICK HERE.

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Last week I used an Amazon.com giftcard to purchase the A Streetcar Named Desire DVD for my Vivien Leigh library. Tomorrow night I plan to pop it in and watch it for the first time in 10+ years. As many of you know, Vivien won her second Academy Award for the role of Blanche DuBois. Vivien and playwright Tennessee Williams had a great deal of respect for each other. In Alan Dent’s Vivien Leigh: A Bouquet, Williams remembers Vivien. Here is what he wrote:

“There may have been, in her time, as beautiful a lady, but if there was, I never encountered her. Her appearance was flawless. Her social behavior was a bit unpredictable owing to the nervous torment that I am afraid she always had to live with. But it was always- in my experience- a marvelously styled behavior. She gave beautiful, delicately controlled, performances in two of my films, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone. I would say that, as a general thing, actors do not like playwrights, but for some reason, God knows what, Vivien seemed to understand me and like me. Could it be that she realized that I lived with the same nervous torment? Or was it that she knew I was enchanted by her? When she was not too tormented, she was capable of the most discreet and exquisite kindness. An incident in point: A few years ago, in New York, she gave a dinner party and invited me and my closet friend to it. This friend of mine was dying of lung cancer, but he (Frank Merle) wanted to see Vivien whom he loved as I did. I called her from a public phone-booth and told her his condition, but that I felt it would do him good to see her again. Although his illness was obviously in a terminal state, Vivien treated him at the party as though he was perfectly well. In a completely unostentatious way, she devoted most of her charm and attention to him, and for the first time in weeks he seems to forget his depression. Another person than Vivien might have treated him with a concern for his condition that would be obvious. But there was nothing of that. There was only a delicately exhibited affection for him. He was happy that evening. If for no other reason, I would always-will always- feel that she was a magical sort of person. “

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