Laurence Olivier

Actor, Director, Producer
He was by wide consensus the greatest actor of the 20th century. In an age when the "legitimate" theater held firm to primacy over motion pictures, and classical theater over modern, Laurence Olivier crossed seamlessly ... Read more »
Born: 05/21/1907 in Surrey, England, GB

Filmography

Actor (66)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow 2004 (Movie)

Dr. Totenkopf (Actor)

The Entertainer 1989 (Movie)

Archie Rice (Actor)

War Requiem 1989 (Movie)

Old Soldier (Actor)

Directed By William Wyler 1988 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Bounty 1984 (Movie)

Admiral Hood (Actor)

The Last Days of Pompeii 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Wild Geese II 1984 (Movie)

Rudolf Hess (Actor)

Mr. Halperin and Mr. Johnson 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jigsaw Man 1983 (Movie)

Admiral Scaith (Actor)

Wagner 1983 (Movie)

Pfeufer (Actor)

Clash of the Titans 1981 (Movie)

Zeus (Actor)

Inchon 1981 (Movie)

General Douglas MacArthur (Actor)

The Jazz Singer 1980 (Movie)

Cantor Rabinovitch (Actor)

A Little Romance 1979 (Movie)

Julius Edmond Santorin (Actor)

Dracula 1979 (Movie)

Van Helsing (Actor)

Come Back, Little Sheba 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

The Boys From Brazil 1978 (Movie)

Ezra Lieberman (Actor)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

The Betsy 1977 (Movie)

Loren Hardeman Sr (Actor)

A Bridge Too Far 1976 (Movie)

Dr Spaander (Actor)

Marathon Man 1976 (Movie)

Szell (Actor)

Gentleman Tramp 1975 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Seven Per-Cent Solution 1975 (Movie)

Professor Moriarty (Actor)

Long Day's Journey Into Night 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Lady Caroline Lamb 1972 (Movie)

Duke of Wellington (Actor)

Sleuth 1972 (Movie)

Andrew Wyke (Actor)

Nicholas and Alexandra 1971 (Movie)

Count White (Actor)

David Copperfield 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

The Dance of Death 1970 (Movie)

Edgar (Actor)

Battle of Britain 1969 (Movie)

Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding (Actor)

Oh! What A Lovely War 1969 (Movie)

Field Marshall Sir John French (Actor)

Three Sisters 1969 (Movie)

Doctor Chebutikin (Actor)

Romeo & Juliet 1968 (Movie)

Epilogue and Prologue Narration (Actor)

The Shoes of the Fisherman 1968 (Movie)

Premier Kamenev (Actor)

Khartoum 1966 (Movie)

The Mahdi (Actor)

Othello 1965 (Movie)

Othello (Actor)

Bunny Lake Is Missing 1964 (Movie)

Newhouse (Actor)

Term of Trial 1962 (Movie)

Graham Weir (Actor)

Spartacus 1960 (Movie)

Marcus Crassus (Actor)

The Devil's Disciple 1958 (Movie)

General Burgoyne (Actor)

The Prince and the Showgirl 1957 (Movie)

Regent (Actor)

Richard III 1955 (Movie)

Richard III (Actor)

The Magic Box 1950 (Movie)

Startled policeman (Actor)

Hamlet 1948 (Movie)

Hamlet (Actor)

Henry V 1943 (Movie)

Henry V (Actor)

The Demi-Paradise 1942 (Movie)

Ivan Dimitrevitch Kouzetsoff (Actor)

Rebecca 1940 (Movie)

Maxim de Winter (Actor)

Wuthering Heights 1939 (Movie)

Heathcliff (Actor)

The Yellow Ticket 1930 (Movie)

Julian Rolfe (Actor)

21 Days (TV Show)

Actor

Brideshead Revisited (Tv Show)

Actor

Clouds over Europe (Movie)

Tony McVane (Actor)

Fire Over England (Movie)

Michael Ingolby (Actor)

Jesus of Nazareth (TV Show)

Actor

King Lear (TV Show)

Actor

Laurence Olivier -- A Life (TV Show)

Actor

Lost Empires (TV Show)

Actor

Love Among the Ruins (TV Show)

Actor

Perfect Understanding (Movie)

Nicholas Randall (Actor)

Peter the Great (TV Show)

Actor

Pride and Prejudice (Movie)

Mr. Darcy (Actor)

That Hamilton Woman (Movie)

Lord Horatio Nelson (Actor)

The Divorce of Lady X (Movie)

Everard Logan (Actor)

The Ebony Tower (TV Show)

Actor

The Last Days of Pompeii (Movie)

(Actor)
Director (5)

Three Sisters 1969 (Movie)

(Director)

The Prince and the Showgirl 1957 (Movie)

(Director)

Richard III 1955 (Movie)

(Director)

Hamlet 1948 (Movie)

(Director)

Henry V 1943 (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (4)

The Prince and the Showgirl 1957 (Movie)

(Producer)

Richard III 1955 (Movie)

(Producer)

Hamlet 1948 (Movie)

(Producer)

Henry V 1943 (Movie)

(Producer)
Writer (2)

Richard III 1955 (Movie)

adaptation (Writer (adaptation))

Henry V 1943 (Movie)

adaptation (Writer (adaptation))

Biography

He was by wide consensus the greatest actor of the 20th century. In an age when the "legitimate" theater held firm to primacy over motion pictures, and classical theater over modern, Laurence Olivier crossed seamlessly between both, even bridging the gap between popular culture and the Shakespearean and classic drama canon of which he was master. His official, glamorized coupling with multiple Oscar-winner Vivien Leigh - "the King and Queen of the theater," as contemporary Sir John Gielgud once dubbed them - proved far darker than the fairy tale advertised to the public, even as countless rumors swirled around his eclectic extracurricular relationships. His legacy as the definitive Heathcliff and Hamlet, his acclaim even a generation later as the vengeful cuckold in "Sleuth" (1972) and a ruthless Nazi doctor in "Marathon Man" (1976), would see him earn 14 Oscar nominations, three statues, five Emmys out of nine nominations, two British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards out of 10 nominations - only a few indicators of his titanic impact on his craft and indeed on Western culture.

Relationships

Agnes Crookenden Olivier

Mother

Edward Laurence Albert Actor

Godchild

Claire Bloom Actor

Companion
played Lady Anne to his "Richard III" (1955) Bloom recounts their affair in her memoirs

Jill Esmond Actor

Wife
married on July 25, 1930 in Marlybone separated c. 1937 when Esmond learned of his affair with Vivien Leigh divorced on January 29, 1940

Vivien Leigh Actor

Wife
married on August 30, 1940 divorced in 1960

Sarah Miles Actor

Companion
Miles wrote about their relationship in her memoirs

Gerard Olivier

Father

Julie-Kate Olivier

Daughter
mother, Joan Plowright

Tamsin Olivier

Daughter
mother, Joan Plowright owns The Engineer, a restaurant

Richard Olivier

Son
mother, Joan Plowright

Simon Olivier

Son
mother, Jill Esmond

Joan Plowright Actor

Wife
Married from March 17, 1961 until Olivier's death from cancer July 11, 1989

Victoria Tennant Actor

Godchild

Dorothy Tutin Actor

Companion
had relationship when they appeared together in the film "The Beggar's Opera" (1953)

EDUCATION

All Saint's Choir School

Elsie Fogerty's Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Arts

St Edward's School

Milestones

1983

Honored at Film Society at Lincoln Center

1943

Film directing debut with "Henry V"

1943

Appointed co-director of Old Vic Theatre

1929

Film acting debut in "Murder for Sale"

1929

Broadway acting debut

1926

With Birmingham Repertory Company

Founded National Theater (Britain)

Professional stage acting debut in "The Ghost Train"

Stage acting debut in "The Taming of the Shrew" aged 14

Bonus Trivia

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"Sometimes the gods come down and blow in your ear--and you can do no wrong. Other times, you have to provide a performance. You just can't wait around for them to blow." --Laurence Olivier quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, March 15, 1991.

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"Acting is a masochistic form of exhibitionism. It is not quite the occupation of an adult." --Laurence Olivier.

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He joined the Fleet Air Arm of Royal Navy in 1941.

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Olivier was knighted in 1947.

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He was made baron in 1970.

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Received the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II; the first actor to be so honored.

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