Laurence Olivier

Biography

Date of Birth 22 May 1907, Dorking, Surrey, England, UK Date of Death 11 July 1989, Steyning, West Sussex, England, UK (complications from a muscle disorder) Birth Name Laurence Kerr Olivier Height 5' 10" (1.78 m) Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM, (IPA: ['l???ns ?'l?vie?]; 22 May 1907 – 11 July 1989) was an Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and four-time Emmy winning English actor, director, and producer. He is one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century, along with his contemporaries John Gielgud, Peggy Ashcroft and Ralph Richardson.[1] Olivier played a wide variety of roles on stage and screen from Greek tragedy, Shakespeare and Restoration comedy to modern American and British drama. He was the first artistic director of the National Theatre of Great Britain and its main stage is named in his honour. He is considered by many to be the greatest actor of the 20th Century, in the same category as David Garrick, Richard Burbage, Edmund Kean and Henry Irving in their own centuries.[2] Olivier's Academy acknowledgments are considerable—fourteen Oscar nominations, with two wins for Best Actor and Best Picture for the 1948 film Hamlet, and two honorary awards including a statuette and certificate. He was also awarded five Emmy awards from the nine nominations he received. Olivier's career as a stage and film actor spanned more than six decades and included a wide variety of roles, from Shakespeare's Othello and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night to the sadistic Nazi dentist Christian Szell in Marathon Man. A High Church clergyman's son who found fame on the West End stage, Olivier became determined early on to master Shakespeare, and eventually came to be regarded as one of the foremost Shakespeare interpreters of the 20th century. He continued to act until his death in 1989.[3] Olivier played more than 120 stage roles, including: Richard III, Macbeth, Romeo, Hamlet, Othello, Uncle Vanya, and Archie Rice in The Entertainer. He appeared in nearly sixty films, including William Wyler's Wuthering Heights, Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca, Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus, Otto Preminger's Bunny Lake is Missing, Richard Attenborough's Oh! What a Lovely War, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's Sleuth, John Schlesinger's Marathon Man, Daniel Petrie's The Betsy, Desmond Davis' Clash of the Titans, and his own Henry V, Hamlet, and Richard III. He also preserved his Othello on film, with its stage cast virtually intact. For television, he starred in The Moon and Sixpence, John Gabriel Borkman, Long Day's Journey into Night, The Merchant of Venice, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and King Lear, among others. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Olivier among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, at fourteen on the list. Olivier was born in 1907 in Dorking, Surrey, England. He was raised in a severe, strict, and religious household, ruled over by his father, Gerard Kerr Olivier (1869–1939), a High Anglican priest.[4] whose father was Henry Arnold Olivier, a rector. Young Laurence took solace in the care of his mother, Agnes Louise Crookenden (1871–1920), and was grief-stricken when she died (at 48) when he was only 12.[5] Richard and Sybille were his two older siblings. In 1918 his father became the new church minister at St. Mary's Church, Letchworth, Hertfordshire and the family lived at the Old Rectory, now part of St Christopher School. He performed at the St. Christopher School Theatre, in December 1924 in Through the Crack (unknown author) as understudy and assistant stage manager, and in April 1925 he played Lennox in Shakespeare's Macbeth and was assistant stage manager. He was educated at St Edward's School, Oxford, and, at 15, played Katherine in his school's production of The Taming of the Shrew, to rave reviews. After his brother, Richard, left for India, it was his father who decided that Laurence — or "Kim", as the family called him — would become an actor.[ Olivier then attended the Central School of Dramatic Art at the age of 17.[7] In 1926, he joined The Birmingham Repertory Company.[8] At first he was given only paltry tasks at the theatre, such as being the bell-ringer; however, his roles eventually became more significant, and in 1937 he was playing roles such as Hamlet and Macbeth.[3] Throughout his career he insisted that his acting was pure technique, and he was contemptuous of contemporaries who adopted the 'Method' popularized by Lee Strasberg. Olivier met and married Jill Esmond, a rising young actress, on July 25, 1930 and had one son, Tarquin, born in 1936. Olivier was not happy in his first marriage from the beginning, however. Repressed, as he came to see it, by his religious upbringing, Olivier recounted in his autobiography the disappointments of his wedding night, culminating in his failure to perform sexually. He renounced religion forever and soon came to resent his wife, though the marriage would last for ten years. He made his film debut in The Temporary Widow, and played his first leading role on film in The Yellow Ticket; however, he held film in little regard.[7] His stage breakthroughs were in Noel Coward's Private Lives in 1930, and in Romeo and Juliet in 1935, alternating the roles of Romeo and Mercutio with John Gielgud. Olivier did not agree with Gielgud's style of acting Shakespeare and was irritated by the fact that Gielgud was getting better reviews than he was.[9][10] His tension towards Gielgud came to a head in 1940, when Olivier approached London impresario Binkie Beaumont about financing him in a repertory of the four great Shakespearean tragedies of Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear, but Beaumont would only agree to the plan if Olivier and Gielgud alternated in the roles of Hamlet/Laertes, Othello/Iago, Macbeth/Macduff, and Lear/Gloucester and that Gielgud direct at least one of the productions, a proposition Olivier bluntly declined.[11] The engagement as Romeo resulted in an invitation by Lilian Baylis to be the star at the Old Vic Theatre in 1937/38. Olivier's tenure had mixed artistic results, with his performances as Hamlet and Iago drawing a negative response from critics and his first attempt at Macbeth receiving mixed reviews. But his appearances as Henry V, Coriolanus, and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night were triumphs, and his popularity with Old Vic audiences left Olivier as one of the major Shakespearean actors in England by the season's end. Olivier continued to hold his scorn for film, and though he constantly worked for Alexander Korda, he still felt most at home on the stage. He made his first Shakespeare film, As You Like It, with Paul Czinner, however, Olivier disliked it, thinking that Shakespeare did not work well on film. When World War II broke out, Olivier intended to join the Royal Air Force, but was still contractually obliged to other parties. He apparently disliked actors such as Charles Laughton and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, who would hold charity cricket matches to help the war effort.[3] Olivier took flying lessons, and racked up over 200 hours. After two years of service, he rose to the rank Lieutenant Olivier RNVR, as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm but was never called to see action. In 1944 he and fellow actor Ralph Richardson were released from their naval commitments to form a new Old Vic Theatre Company at the New Theatre (later the Albery, now the Noel Coward Theatre) with a nightly repertory of three plays, initially Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt, Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man and Shakespeare's Richard III (which would become Olivier's signature role), rehearsed over 10 weeks to the accompaniment of German V1 ‘doodlebugs’. The enterprise, with John Burrell as manager, eventually extended to five acclaimed seasons ending in 1949, after a prestigious 1948 tour of Australia and New Zealand, which included Vivien Leigh in productions of Richard III, Richard Brinsley Sheridan's School for Scandal, and Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth. The second New Theatre season opened with Olivier playing both Harry Hotspur and Justice Shallow to Richardson’s Falstaff in Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, in what is now seen as a high point of English classical theatre. The magic continued with one of Olivier's most famous endeavours, the double bill of Sophocles' Oedipus and Sheridan's The Critic, with Olivier's transition from Greek tragedy to high comedy in a single evening becoming a thing of legend. He followed this triumph with one of his favorite roles, Astrov in Uncle Vanya. Kenneth Tynan was to write (in He Who Plays the King, 1950): ‘The Old Vic was now at its height: the watershed had been reached and one of those rare moments in the theatre had arrived when drama paused, took stock of all that it had learnt since Irving, and then produced a monument in celebration. It is surprising when one considers it, that English acting should have reached up and seized a laurel crown in the middle of a war.’ In 1945 Olivier and Richardson were made honorary Lieutenants with ENSA, and did a six-week tour of Europe for the army, performing Arms and the Man, Peer Gynt and Richard III for the troops, followed by a visit to the Comédie-Française in Paris, the first time a foreign company had been invited to play on its famous stage.[24] When Olivier returned to London the populace noticed a change in him. Olivier's only explanation was: "Maybe it's just that I've got older" Olivier was the founding director of the Chichester Festival Theatre (1962–1966) and of the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain (1962–1973) for which he received his life peerage. He was created a Knight Bachelor on 12 June 1947,[33] and created a life peer on 13 June 1970 as Baron Olivier, of Brighton in the County of Sussex, the first actor to be accorded this distinction.[34][35] He was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1981. The Laurence Olivier Awards, organised by The Society of London Theatre, were renamed in his honour in 1984. Though he was a Life Peer and one of the most respected personalities in the industry, Olivier insisted that one should address him as "Larry", and he simply would not listen to anyone addressing him with honorifics such as "Lord", and "Sir".[.

Expand
Person Photo

Birth Name

Laurence Kerr Olivier

Birth Place

Dorking, Surrey, England, UK

Birth Date

5/22/1907

Death Date

7/11/1989
Known For
Movie Poster

Rebecca

'Maxim' de Winter

Movie Poster

Marathon Man

Szell

Movie Poster

The Boys from Brazil

Ezra Lieberman

Movie Poster

The Bounty

Admiral Hood

Movie Poster

Sleuth

Andrew Wyke

Movie Poster

Hamlet

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Movie Poster

Dracula

Prof. Abraham Van Helsing

Movie Poster

The Jazz Singer

Cantor Rabinovitch

Movie Poster

Wuthering Heights

Heathcliff

Movie Poster

Bunny Lake Is Missing

Superintendent Newhouse

Starring In
Movie Poster

My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock

Self (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Vivien Leigh - Die Frau hinter Scarlett

Archive Footage

Movie Poster

Churchill and the Movie Mogul

Self (archive footage)

Movie Poster

And the Oscar Goes To...

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Love, Marilyn

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

Self (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Dr. Totenkopf (archive footage) (as Sir Laurence Olivier)

Movie Poster

The Filth and the Fury - A Sex Pistols Film

Himself (archive footage)

Movie Poster

Marilyn Monroe - The Mortal Goddess

Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Movie Poster

War Requiem

Old Soldier

Movie Poster

Wild Geese 2

Rudolf Hess

Movie Poster

The Ebony Tower

Henry Breasley

Movie Poster

Terror in the Aisles

Christian Szell (in 'Marathon Man') (archive footage) (uncredited)

Movie Poster

The Jigsaw Man

Adm. Sir Gerald Scaith

Movie Poster

Bounty

Admiral Hood

Movie Poster

The Bounty

Admiral Hood

Movie Poster

King Lear

King Lear

Movie Poster

A Talent for Murder

Dr. Anthony Wainwright

Movie Poster

Hollywood Out-Takes and rare Footage

Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Movie Poster

Inchon

Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Movie Poster

Clash of the Titans (1981)

Zeus

Movie Poster

The Jazz Singer

Cantor Rabinovitch

Movie Poster

Dracula

Prof. Abraham Van Helsing

Movie Poster

A Little Romance

Julius

Movie Poster

The Boys from Brazil

Ezra Lieberman

Movie Poster

The Betsy

Loren Hardeman

Movie Poster

A Bridge Too Far

Doctor Spaander

Movie Poster

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

Professor James Moriarty

Movie Poster

Marathon Man

Szell

Movie Poster

Laurence Olivier Presents

Various

Movie Poster

Love Among the Ruins

Sir Arthur Glanville-Jones

Movie Poster

The Merchant of Venice

Shylock

Movie Poster

Sleuth

Andrew Wyke

Movie Poster

Nicholas and Alexandra

Count Witte

Movie Poster

Three Sisters

Dr. Ivan Chebutikin

Movie Poster

Battle of Britain

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding

Movie Poster

Oh! What a Lovely War

Field-Marshal Sir John French

Movie Poster

David Copperfield

Mr. Creakle

Movie Poster

Portrait eines Produzenten - David O. Selznick in Hollywood

Actor 'Rebecca' (archive footage) (uncredited)

Movie Poster

The Shoes of the Fisherman

Premier Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (as Sir Laurence Olivier)

Movie Poster

Romeo and Juliet

Narrator (voice: English version) (uncredited)

Movie Poster

Khartoum

The Mahdi

Movie Poster

Great Acting: Laurence Olivier

Self - Interviewee

Movie Poster

Othello

Othello

Movie Poster

Bunny Lake Is Missing

Superintendent Newhouse

Movie Poster

The Legend of Marilyn Monroe

Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Movie Poster

Term of Trial

Graham Weir

Movie Poster

The Power and the Glory

Priest

Movie Poster

The Entertainer

Archie Rice

Movie Poster

Spartacus

Crassus

Movie Poster

The Devil's Disciple

Gen. Burgoyne

Movie Poster

The Prince And The Showgirl

The Regent

Movie Poster

Richard III

Richard III

Movie Poster

A Queen Is Crowned

Narrator (voice)

Movie Poster

Carrie

George Hurstwood

Movie Poster

Hamlet

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Movie Poster

Henry V

King Henry V of England

Movie Poster

This Happy Breed

Narrator (uncredited)

Movie Poster

The Demi-Paradise

Ivan Kouznetsoff

Movie Poster

49th Parallel

Johnnie - The Trapper

Movie Poster

That Hamilton Woman

Lord Horatio Nelson

Movie Poster

Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Darcy

Movie Poster

Rebecca

'Maxim' de Winter

Movie Poster

Hollywood: Style Center of the World

Self (archive footage)

Movie Poster

21 Days Together

Larry

Movie Poster

Wuthering Heights

Heathcliff

Movie Poster

Q Planes

Tony McVane

Movie Poster

The Divorce of Lady X

Logan

Movie Poster

Fire Over England

Michael Ingolby

Movie Poster

As You Like it

Orlando

Movie Poster

Perfect Understanding

Nicholas Randall

Movie Poster

Westward Passage

Nick Allen

Movie Poster

Friends and Lovers

Lieutenant Ned Nichols

MobileIcon
app store google play