It recently occurred to me that you hardly ever see pictures of Vivien Leigh where she isn’t in costume as either Scarlett O’Hara or Blanche DuBois. I felt suddenly, powerfully moved to remedy this fact.
This circa 1935 shot feels like a very different look from what we generally associate with Leigh, though I can’t put my finger on precisely why. Maybe it’s the darker makeup?
This photo from same period looks more familiar:
1935 again, as she “relaxes against a heap of cushions.” Do you reckon they bought that jacket for its utter perfection in black-and-white?
A promo shot for Dark Journey, from 1937, “in which Leigh plays a French spy who falls in love with her German contact.” Again with the flirty head-tilt. Give this woman every secret we’ve got!
The sad part is, Leigh felt like her stunning looks meant she didn’t get taken seriously. According to her Wikipedia page (I know, I know, but this one’s well-sourced), she once said: “People think that if you look fairly reasonable, you can’t possibly act, and as I only care about acting, I think beauty can be a great handicap, if you really want to look like the part you’re playing, which isn’t necessarily like you.” The entry also quotes George Cukor, who described her as a “consummate actress, hampered by beauty.”
Late 1938; they must’ve already cast her as Scarlett O’Hara—look at that eyebrow arch. (And what’s going on with that wallpaper?)
At home with her cat (!!) in 1946:
In Rome, with Laurence Olivier, 1953:
1957, wearing a fur so white it probably glows in the dark:
Meeting Ringo, of all people, 1964:
Photos via Getty.