Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier

82 (passed away Jul. 11th, 1989)
May. 22nd, 1907
Born in
Dorking, Surrey, England, UK
5' 10

Laurence Olivier's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Brideshead Revisited (UK) TV Show
Brideshead Revisited (UK)
The World at War (UK) TV Show
The World at War (UK)

Main Movie Roles

2014 - For No Good Reason
2013 - Love, Marilyn
2004 - Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
2002 - The Kid Stays in the Picture
2000 - The Filth and the Fury
1989 - War Requiem
1985 - Wild Geese II
1984 - The Bounty
1981 - Clash of the Titans
1980 - The Jazz Singer
1979 - A Little Romance
1979 - Dracula
1977 - A Bridge Too Far
1976 - The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
1976 - Marathon Man
1972 - Sleuth
1971 - Nicholas and Alexandra
1969 - Battle of Britain
1968 - Romeo and Juliet
1968 - Romeo and Juliet
1968 - Romeo and Juliet
1966 - Khartoum
1965 - Bunny Lake Is Missing
1960 - The Entertainer
1960 - Spartacus
1955 - Richard III
1952 - Carrie
1948 - Hamlet
1948 - Hamlet
1941 - That Hamilton Woman
1940 - Rebecca
1940 - Pride and Prejudice
1940 - 21 Days
1939 - Wuthering Heights
1938 - The Divorce of Lady X
1937 - Fire Over England
1936 - As You Like It

Guest TV Roles

Show Name
Characters Played
Ep Count
Himself - Actor
[Complete List]


He could speak William Shakespeare (I)'s lines as naturally as if he were "actually thinking them", said English playwright Charles C. Bennett, who met Laurence Olivier in 1927. One of Olivier's earliest successes as a Shakespearean actor on the London stage came in 1935 when he played "Romeo" and "Mercutio" in alternate performances of "Romeo and Juliet" with John Gielgud. A young Englishwoman just beginning her career on the stage fell in love with Olivier's Romeo. In 1937, she was "Ophelia" to his "Hamlet" in a special performance at Kronberg Castle, Elsinore, Denmark. In 1940, she became his second wife after both returned from making films in America that were major box office hits of 1939. His film was Wuthering Heights (1939), her film was Gone with the Wind (1939). Vivien Leigh and Olivier were screen lovers in Fire Over England (1937), 21 Days (1940) and That Hamilton Woman (1941). There was almost a fourth film together in 1944 when Olivier and Leigh traveled to Scotland with Charles C. Bennett to research the real-life story of a Scottish girl accused of murdering her French lover. Bennett recalled that Olivier researched the story "with all the thoroughness of Sherlock Holmes" and "we unearthed evidence, never known or produced at the trial, that would most certainly have sent the young lady to the gallows". The film project was then abandoned. During their two-decade marriage, Olivier and Leigh appeared on the stage in England and America and made films whenever they really needed to make some money. In 1951, Olivier was working on a screen adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel "Sister Carrie" (Carrie (1952)) while Leigh was completing work on the film version of the Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). She won her second Oscar for bringing "Blanche DuBois" to the screen. Carrie (1952) was a film that Olivier never talked about. George Hurstwood, a middle-aged married man from Chicago who tricked a young woman into leaving a younger man about to marry her, became a New York street person in the novel. Olivier played him as a somewhat nicer person who didn't fall quite as low. A PBS documentary on Olivier's career broadcast in 1987 covered his first sojourn in Hollywood in the early 1930s with his first wife, Jill Esmond (I), and noted that her star was higher than his at that time. On film, he was upstaged by his second wife, too, even though the list of films he made is four times as long as hers. More than half of his film credits come after The Entertainer (1960), which started out as a play in London in 1957. When the play moved across the Atlantic to Broadway in 1958, the role of "Archie Rice"'s daughter was taken over by Joan Plowright, who was also in the film. They married soon after the release of The Entertainer (1960).

  • Is portrayed by 'Andrew Clarke (I)' (qv) in _Blonde (2001) (TV)_ (qv), by 'Anthony Higgins (I)' (qv) in _Darlings of the Gods (1989) (TV)_ (qv) and by 'Anthony Gordon (I)' (qv) in _Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980) (TV)_ (qv).
  • Wanted desperately to stage "Guys and Dolls" in the early 1970s, as he dreamed of playing Sky Masterson, but after stringing him along for several years, the board of governors of the National Theatre vetoed any chance of a production. After years of being hamstrung by the board, Olivier resigned as artistic director in 1973 without being able to name his successor. The governors appointed 'Peter Hall (I)' (qv), founder of the National Theatre's great rival, the Royal Shakespeare Company, as director to replace Olivier. The move is widely seen as an insult to Olivier, who had given up an incalculable fortune in potential earnings in the commercial theater and in motion pictures to make his dream of a National Theatre a reality. However, he was honored by having the largest auditorium in the under-construction National Theatre building named after him. "Guys and Dolls" was eventually staged by the National Theatre in 1982.
  • According to Olivier in his autobiography "Confessions of an Actor," when he went to Hollywood in the early 1930s as the "next 'Ronald Colman' (qv)", one studio wanted to change his name to "Larry Oliver." He often wondered what his career would have been like if he kept that less-distinguished name, whether his career would have been as sorry as the name.
  • In the book "Melting the Stone: A Journey Around My Father" by his son 'Richard Olivier (I)' (qv), Richard describes Laurence as being more interested in his work than in his children; he never looked back fondly on his career and would actually become depressed when he didn't have a job.
  • Brother-in-law of race car driver Jack Esmond.
  • 1985: When presenting at the Oscars, he forgot to name the Best Picture nominees. He simply opened the envelope and proclaimed, "_Amadeus (1984)_ (qv)".
  • When Olivier first arrived in Hollywood in 1932, his height was measured at exactly five feet ten inches and his weight at 145 lbs.
  • Is mentioned in 'J.D. Salinger' (qv)'s novel "The Catcher in the Rye".

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