Entertainment

Vivien Leigh had nervous breakdown filming ‘Gone with the Wind’

It was the film that set Hollywood and Atlanta on hearth. However for Vivien Leigh, who performed Southern belle Scarlet O’Hara, the making of “Gone With the Wind” was hell on earth.

The movie would go on to change into the highest grossing film of all time (adjusted for inflation, it boasted ticket gross sales of $1.823 billion), profitable ten Academy Awards in 1939. Nevertheless it took a big toll on its 25-year-old feminine lead. Exhaustion and stress from lengthy days and nights on the film set had her taking sedatives to calm her hysteria till someday, she unintentionally overdosed.

On the time, Leigh was concerned in an affair with English actor Laurence Olivier. The 2 had fallen head over heels on the film set “Hearth Over England” two years earlier than her starring position as Scarlett. Leigh had deserted her husband, lawyer Herbert Leigh Holman, and their child lady for Olivier — who had left his spouse, actress Jill Esmond, and their younger son.

“How dare you are taking drugs like that, you hysterical little ninny,” Olivier wrote to Leigh in a letter, having heard of her overdose. He additionally loved penning her horny letters, together with one which learn, “Urrgh! Bend over — Sure, take your drawers down – no, raise your skirt up – now then: Smack! Smack! Smack!,” in line with “Really, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and the Romance of the Century,” (Grand Central Publishing), out now, by Stephen Galloway.

Vivien Leigh with lover Laurence Olivier, who loved penning her horny letters on the set of “Gone With The Wind.”
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Clark Gable feared he wouldn’t master the Southern accent of his character Rhett Butler, while Leigh’s sophistication made him feel like a rube.
Clark Gable feared he wouldn’t grasp the Southern accent of his character Rhett Butler, whereas Leigh’s sophistication made him really feel like a rube.

Each main feminine star in Hollywood — together with Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn — had begged director George Cukor for the position in what was to be the most important movement image ever made.

The position of Scarlett, Leigh hoped, would make her a reliable actress — and equal to Olivier, who was hovering creatively as a Shakespearean stage and movie actor.

Virtually as quickly as filming started in December 1938, the issues began with the actress, who had undiagnosed bipolar dysfunction. Along with sudden crying and temper swings, she was affected by different random maladies. Her eyes itched, and her pores and skin was peeling from an allergy to the crimson filth that had been imported from Georgia to recreate the look of the South on the Hollywood set.

Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With the Wind," speaks with producer David Selznick and actors Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia De Havilland.
Margaret Mitchell, creator of “Gone With the Wind,” speaks with producer David Selznick and actors Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia De Havilland.
Bettmann Archive

To make issues worse, her interval was late — and he or she feared she would wish an abortion, as neither she nor Olivier had deliberate on having kids collectively. Throughout down time on the set, Leigh invented a vile new sport referred to as “Methods to Kill a Child.” Pretending she was holding a child in her arms whereas driving, she would coo sweetly to the toddler earlier than hurling it out the window.

In the meantime Olivier, who was again on the East Coast testing for a movie, was imploring her to ship him her underwear. “I’m sitting bare with simply my components wrapped in your panties,” he wrote to her. “My eager for you is so intense…”

Exhaustion and pressure from long days and nights on the movie set had the 25-year-old Leigh taking sedatives to calm her hysteria until one day, she accidentally overdosed.
Exhaustion and stress from lengthy days and nights on the film set had the 25-year-old Leigh taking sedatives to calm her hysteria till someday, she unintentionally overdosed.
Bettmann Archive
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in "Gone with the WInd." She went on to win an Oscar for the role.
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in “Gone with the WInd.” She went on to win an Oscar for the position.

Leigh seemed to be headed for a whole breakdown till producer David Selznick begged Olivier to go to and calm her down. The couple fortunately escaped to Kansas Metropolis, the place they thought they wouldn’t be acknowledged.

“I’m so grateful to you,” Leigh instructed Selznick on her return to the set. “Larry met me within the lodge foyer, and we went upstairs, and we f–ked, and we f–ked, and we f–ked the entire weekend.”

Leigh appeared to be headed for a complete breakdown until producer David Selznick begged Olivier to visit and calm her down. The couple happily escaped to Kansas City.
Leigh seemed to be headed for a whole breakdown till producer David Selznick begged Olivier to go to and calm her down. The couple fortunately escaped to Kansas Metropolis.
Getty Pictures

“I’m so grateful to you. Larry met me within the lodge foyer, and we went upstairs, and we f–ked, and we f–ked, and we f–ked the entire weekend.”

Vivien Leigh to producer David Selznick after he granted her time without work set together with her lover Laurence Olivier

Leigh wasn’t the one one on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The entire employees was struggling exhaustion from 3 a.m. wake-up calls and lengthy days.

Co-star Clark Gable arrived on set along with his personal points, as a result of he had no say within the position, having been lent out by one other studio. He feared he wouldn’t grasp the southern accent, and Leigh’s sophistication made him really feel like a rube, insecure over his small-town upbringing in japanese Ohio. His temper softened when he obtained a knitted sock from his latest spouse to maintain his genitals heat. The directions: “Don’t let it get chilly. Convey it house scorching for me.”

Truly, Madly

Olivier began placing extra stress on Leigh by writing to her that “Gone With The Wind” was going to be an apparent catastrophe. “To make a hit of your profession in footage is important in your self respect and our final happiness,” he wrote the actress, who would go on to win Finest Actress for the position. And if she failed, he recommended, “I’m afraid you could change into simply — nicely, boring.”

As a substitute, “Gone With The Wind” modified Leigh’s life endlessly and made her a celebrity, however the exhaustion and darkish moods that overwhelmed her on set had been solely the start.

She would later try suicide earlier than having an acute nervous breakdown and being hospitalized to bear electroconvulsive remedy. She turned a stranger to Olivier, the person she as soon as adored, and died alone at 53 in 1967.

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