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The Romance of the Century: Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, March 22, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0223
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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In 1934, a friend brought fledgling actress Vivien Leigh to see Theatre Royal, where she would first lay eyes on Laurence Olivier in his brilliant performance as Anthony Cavendish. She knew he was the man she was going to marry. There was just one problem: She was already married—and so was he.

Decades after both actors’ deaths, the story of their love affair still captivates millions. They were two of the first truly global celebrities, whose fame was fueled by the explosive growth of tabloids and television. They seemed to have it all, but Leigh’s long-undiagnosed mental illness ultimately transformed their relationship from the stuff of dreams into a living nightmare.

Author Stephen Galloway draws on new research—including exclusive access to uncovered correspondence and interviews with their friends and family—for a look at their tempestuous relationship; one that took place against the backdrop of two world wars, the Golden Age of Hollywood and the upheavals of the 1960s—as they struggled with love, loss and the ultimate agony of their parting.

Galloway’s book Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century (Grand Central Publishing) is available for purchase.

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