Laurence Olivier Net Worth

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Laurence Olivier Net Worth: Laurence Olivier was born May 22, 1907, Dorking, United Kingdom. Laurence Olivier is regarded as among the best performers of the 20th century. Though he was based in England, Olivier made an important amount of Hollywood movies. Olivier appeared in more than 120 stage characters, almost 60 pictures and much more than 15 television productions. The son of a clergyman, Olivier was well educated and presented to the artwork at an early age. He made his performing debut at 15 at All Saints Choir School. He performed in Shakespearean and other ancient characters while in training.

From the time Olivier appeared in Fire Over England, he was a popular commodity, made even hotter by his well-publicized relationship along with his costar, Vivien Leigh. Both Olivier and Leigh were married to other individuals at that time, but after freed themselves to wed each other, a union that lasted over 20 years. He won Best Picture and Best Actor awards for Hamlet in the Academy. Loaded by ill health problems for over a decade, Olivier fought cancer as well as other ailments while still working in a furious rate. He was knighted in 1947 as well as in 1970 he was made Baron Olivier of Brighton for services to the theatre. Also, in 1981, he was granted the Order of Merit. In America, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed its variation of knighthood on Lord Larry, giving him a special Oscar “for the total body of his work, the exceptional accomplishment of his whole career and his lifetime of contribution to the art of movie.” On July 11, 1989, in the age of 82, “Mister” Laurence Olivier passed away in Ashurst, West Sussex, England of renal failure.

Quick Facts

Birth date: May 22, 1907
Death date: 1989-07-11
Birth place: Dorking, Surrey, United Kingdom
Height:5' 10" (1.78 m)
Profession:Actor, Producer, Director
Education:Central School of Speech and Drama
Nationality:British
Spouse:Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, Joan Plowright
Children:*, * Simon Tarquin Olivier, *, *, * Richard Olivier, * Tamsin Agnes Margaret Olivier, * Julie-Kate Olivier
Parents:* Revd Gerard Kerr Olivier, * Agnes Louise Crookenden
Siblings:Sybille Olivier, Gerard Dacres Olivier
Awards:Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominations:Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Academy Award for Best Director, BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Play, British Academy Television Award for Best Actor, National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Dramatic Program
Movies:Rebecca, Hamlet, Wuthering Heights, The Prince and the Showgirl, Spartacus, That Hamilton Woman, Marathon Man, Sleuth, Henry V, The Boys from Brazil, Richard III, Fire Over England, The Entertainer, Pride and Prejudice, Clash of the Titans, A Little Romance, A Bridge Too Far, Bunny Lake Is Missing, Oh! What a Lovely War, Battle of Britain, Khartoum, Othello, Love Among the Ruins, Q Planes, 21 Days, The Bounty, The Jazz Singer, The Devil's Disciple, The Divorce of Lady X, 49th Parallel, Dracula, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Carrie, The Demi-Paradise, Term of Trial, The Shoes of the Fisherman, Wild Geese II, Inchon, Perfect Understanding, Nicholas and Alexandra, The Jigsaw Man, Lady Caroline Lamb, The Betsy, The Magic Box, The Yellow Ticket, Lost Empires, Three Sisters, The Beggar's Opera, Conquest of the Air, Westward Passage, King Lear
TV shows:Brideshead Revisited, Laurence Olivier Presents, Jesus of Nazareth, The World at War, ABC Theatre
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Interesting Facts

#Fact
1He appeared in four films with Michael Caine: Battle of Britain (1969), Sleuth (1972), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and The Jigsaw Man (1984).
2He was cast as Ben Greene in Magic (1978) but had to withdraw due to illness. He was replaced by Burgess Meredith.
3He has two roles in common with Angus Macfadyen: (1) Olivier played Crassus in Spartacus (1960) while Macfayden played him in Spartacus (2004) and (2) Olivier played Zeus in Clash of the Titans (1981) while Macfayden played him in Jason and the Argonauts (2000).
4He has two roles in common with his A Bridge Too Far (1977) and The Bounty (1984) co-star Anthony Hopkins: (1) Olivier played the title character in Othello (1965) while Hopkins played him in Othello (1981) and (2) Olivier played Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula (1979) while Hopkins played him in Dracula (1992).
5He appeared in films with all three of his wives: Jill Esmond in No Funny Business (1933), Vivien Leigh in Fire Over England (1937), 21 Days Together (1940) and That Hamilton Woman (1941) and Joan Plowright in The Entertainer (1960), Uncle Vanya (1963) and Three Sisters (1970).
6Although he played Robert Duvall's grandfather in The Betsy (1978), he was only 23 years his senior in real life.
7He played Gladys Cooper's brother in Rebecca (1940) and her husband in That Hamilton Woman (1941).
8He and his A Bridge Too Far (1977) co-star Robert Redford are the only people to act in and direct different Academy Award for Best Picture winners: (1) Olivier played Maximilian de Winter in Rebecca (1940) and directed Hamlet (1948), in which he also played the title role and (2) Redford played Johnny Hooker in The Sting (1973) and Denys Finch Hatton in Out of Africa (1985) and directed Ordinary People (1980).
9Is one of 13 actors who have received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of a real-life king. The others in chronological order are Charles Laughton for The Private Life of Henry VIII. (1933), Robert Morley for Marie Antoinette (1938), Basil Rathbone for If I Were King (1938), Jose Ferrer for Joan of Arc (1948), Yul Brynner for The King and I (1956), John Gielgud for Becket (1964), Peter O'Toole for Becket (1964) and The Lion in Winter (1968), Robert Shaw for A Man for All Seasons (1966), Richard Burton for Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Kenneth Branagh for Henry V (1989), Nigel Hawthorne for The Madness of King George (1994), and Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010).
10He was only nine days younger than Daphne Du Maurier, who wrote the 1938 novel "Rebecca". He played Maximilian de Winter in the film adaptation Rebecca (1940).
11He worked with Raymond Massey in Fire Over England (1937) and 49th Parallel (1941), with his son Daniel Massey in The Entertainer (1960) and with his daughter Anna Massey in Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965), David Copperfield (1970) and A Little Romance (1979).
12He was the director Michael Anderson's choice to play Adolf Hitler in a Columbia Pictures epic, "16th of December: The Battle of the Bulge", which had the blessing of Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Defense Department, but the project was abandoned after Warner Brothers appropriated the title for the film Battle of the Bulge (1965) starring Henry Fonda.
13He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6319 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
14He had three Shakespearean roles in common with Orson Welles: (1) Welles played Othello in Othello (1952) while Olivier played him in Othello (1965), (2) Welles played King Lear in Omnibus: King Lear (1953) while Olivier played him in King Lear (1983) and (3) Welles played Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (1969) while Olivier played him in The Merchant of Venice (1973).
15He played three English kings: Henry V in Henry V (1944), Richard III in Richard III (1955) and William III in Peter the Great (1986).
16He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dr. Christian Szell in Marathon Man (1976). Kenneth Branagh was nominated for the same award for playing Olivier in My Week with Marilyn (2011).
17He played Zeus in Clash of the Titans (1981) and was succeeded in the role by his The Bounty (1984) co-star Liam Neeson in the remake Clash of the Titans (2010) and its sequel Wrath of the Titans (2012).
18He played Claire Bloom's husband in both Richard III (1955) and Clash of the Titans (1981).
19Although he was 47 when he played the title character in Richard III (1955), King Richard III of England was only 32 years old when he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485.
20Along with Spencer Tracy, he is one of only two actors to receive nine nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was nominated for Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca (1940), Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), Richard III (1955), The Entertainer (1960), Othello (1965), Sleuth (1972) and The Boys from Brazil (1978). He only won the Academy Award for Hamlet (1948).
21All five of the films that he directed were adaptations of plays: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955) were all based on the plays of the same names by William Shakespeare, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) was based on the play "The Sleeping Prince" by Terence Rattigan and Three Sisters (1970) was based on the play of the same name by Anton Chekhov.
22Of the five films that he directed, Three Sisters (1970) was the only one in which he did not play a member of a royal family. He played Dr. Ivan Chebutikin in that film while he played King Henry V of England in Henry V (1944), Prince Hamlet of Denmark in Hamlet (1948), King Richard III of England in Richard III (1955) and Prince Michael of Carpathia in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
23He died only nine days after Franklin J. Schaffner, who directed him in both Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and The Boys from Brazil (1978).
24He made six films with John Laurie: As You Like It (1936), Clouds Over Europe (1939), Adventure for Two (1943), Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955). He also directed the latter three films.
25He made five films with Felix Aylmer: The Temporary Widow (1930), As You Like It (1936), Adventure for Two (1943), Henry V (1944) and Hamlet (1948). He also directed the latter two films.
26Although he played Joan Plowright's father in The Entertainer (1960), they married several months after the film was released.
27Although he played Eileen Herlie's son in Hamlet (1948), he was almost eleven years her senior in real life.
28His father Gerard Kerr Olivier was born on April 30, 1869 and died on March 30, 1939 while his mother Agnes Louise Crookenden Olivier was born on December 1, 1871 and died on March 27, 1920.
29His elder sister Sybille Olivier was born on July 26, 1901 and died in April 1989 while his elder brother Gerard Dacres Olivier was born on September 5, 1904 and died on November 28, 1958.
30His uncle Sydney Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier served as the Governor of Jamaica from May 16, 1907 to January 1913 and as the Secretary of State for India from January 22, 1924 to November 3, 1924 in the first British Labour government under the leadership of Ramsay MacDonald. In contrast to his uncle, Laurence Olivier was a supporter of the Conservative Party.
31He only appeared in two Shakespearean theatrical films which he did not direct himself: As You Like It (1936) and Othello (1965). He played Orlando in the former and the title character in the latter.
32He played a Nazi war criminal, Dr. Christian Szell, in Marathon Man (1976) and a survivor of the Holocaust, Ezra Lieberman, in The Boys from Brazil (1978). He received Academy Award nominations for both films - Best Supporting Actor for the former and Best Actor for the latter - but did not win either award.
33He has three Shakespearean roles in common with Ian McKellen: (1) Olivier played Hamlet in Hamlet (1948) while McKellen played him in Hamlet (1970), (2) Olivier played King Richard III in Richard III (1955) while McKellen played him in Richard III (1995) and (3) Olivier played King Lear in King Lear (1983) while McKellen played him in King Lear (2008).
34He directed Esmond Knight in four of his five films: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), Richard III (1955) and The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). The only film that he directed in which Knight did not appear was Three Sisters (1970).
35He has two roles in common with Kenneth Branagh, who played him in My Week with Marilyn (2011): (1) Olivier played King Henry V in Henry V (1944) while Branagh played him in Henry V (1989) and (2) Olivier played the title character in Hamlet (1948) while Branagh played him in Hamlet (1996). In each case, Olivier and Branagh directed the relevant film.
36He directed Russell Thorndike in Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955) and his sister Sybil Thorndike in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
37He has three roles in common with his Hamlet (1948) co-star Peter Cushing: (1) Olivier played Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (1940) while Cushing played him in Pride and Prejudice (1952), (2) Cushing played Rudolf Hess in You Are There: The Escape of Rudolf Hess (1953) while Olivier played him in Wild Geese II (1985) and (3) Cushing played Professor Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) while Olivier played him in Dracula (1979).
38He appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: Rebecca (1940) and Hamlet (1948). He also directed the latter.
39A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).
40Dustin Hoffman has said that, contrary to rumors that he and Olivier did not get along while making Marathon Man (1976), Olivier and then-wife Joan Plowright took Hoffman to dinner several times, and presented him with Olivier's personal copy of "The Complete Works of Shakespeare" once filming ended.
41He was honored as Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month for April 2013.
42Olivier was knighted in July 1947 while working on Hamlet (1948).
43Garson Kanin and Katharine Hepburn acted as witnesses for the Olivier's 1940 marriage to Vivien Leigh.
44Jourdain Olivier, an ancestor, arrived in Britain in 1688 as chaplain to William of Orange.
45Was awarded a Knight Bachelor on June 12, 1947 in the King's Birthday Honours, becoming at age 40 the youngest actor so honored. Sir Cedric Hardwicke, knighted at age 41, had previously held the record.
46Was awarded a life peer on June 13, 1970 in the Queen's Birthday Honours as Baron Olivier, of Brighton in the County of Sussex, the first actor to be accorded this distinction.
47Admitted to the Order of Merit in 1981, the first actor so honored in its 79-year-long history. The Order of Merit recognizes distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Admission into the order is the personal gift of the sovereign of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms and is limited to 24 living recipients at one time from these countries plus a limited number of honorary members. Seven years after Olivier's death, John Gielgud was made a member of the Order, the second actor so honored.
48The Laurence Olivier Awards, first established in 1976 as the Society of West End Theatre Awards, were renamed in his honor in 1984, with Lord Olivier's permission. The Olivier awards are managed and financed by the Society of London Theatre. They are the British equivalent of the Tony Award. The award features a bust of Laurence Olivier as Henry V at the Old Vic in 1937 and was designed by the sculptor Harry Franchetti.
49Was director Luchino Visconti's first choice for the Prince in The Leopard (1963), but the Italian producers wanted an international box office star to make the film more marketable. Burt Lancaster, a Top Ten box office star in the United States, was cast instead.
50Was director John Frankenheimer's first choice for the lead in Seconds (1966), but the producers did not want Olivier as he was not a box office draw. Rock Hudson was cast instead.
51Was commissioned as a Lieutenant, and trained as a pilot, in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, but never called into service, and was ultimately released from his obligation in 1944. To show his solidarity with Allied servicemen, he made Henry V (1944).
52Ex-stepfather of Suzanne Farrington.
53Was considered for the role of Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966) but Paul Scofield, who went on to win a Best Actor Oscar for his performance, was cast instead.
54Became friends with Wuthering Heights (1939) co-stars David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald and, eventually, Merle Oberon.
55Following the election of a new Labour government in the mid 1970s, Olivier found his tax rate almost doubled. Michael Caine advised him to to leave England, but Olivier was unwilling to do so. Caine then suggested he do every job offered to him - so Olivier appeared in many projects he otherwise would have passed on.
56The filmmakers wanted him to play Clive Candy in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), but he was prevented from being furloughed from the Navy to take the role by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who did not want the film to be made. Churchill did not want to bolster the production with an actor and star of Olivier's calibre as it felt the movie was critical of a type of British patriot. Olivier was allowed to take a leave from the Navy to make a film about Shakespeare's patriotic King Henry V in Henry V (1944). Roger Livesey was cast instead. A generation later, he played Olivier's father Billy Rice in The Entertainer (1960), though he was less than a year older than him.
57Addressed President John F. Kennedy's inauguration on January 20, 1961.
58He was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture.
59Attended St. Edward's School, Oxford, a top British Boarding school.
6010/76: On the opening night of the National Theatre, he gave a speech finishing with the words, "I thank you for your kind attention, and for the glory, and the luster, of your attendance." It was tinged with much hidden meaning as the few years leading to the opening had seen Olivier decline all attempts to involve him in the process of setting up the new building after much animosity between him and those in charge. It was the only time he ever set foot on the stage of the theatre which bears his name.
61The son of a high church Anglican, Olivier was a lifelong Conservative. In 1983, he wrote to congratulate Margaret Thatcher following her victory in that year's General Election. He declined the offer of a peerage from Harold Wilson's Labour government in 1967, despite Wilson's insistence that it was not a political honor. Olivier was finally persuaded when it was presented to him that he could best represent the interests of the National Theatre as a member of the House of Lords. (By that time, Olivier had lost some bruising battles withe the National's board of directors headed by the hereditary peer Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos.) Wilson secured a life peerage for Olivier in the Queen's Birthday Honours of June 13, 1970, five days before he lost the general election to Edward Heath's Conservatives. When he took his seat in House of Lords, the Conservatives were in power. Aside from his maiden speech when he was introduced to the chamber, Olivier never spoke to the body again or used the Lords to help the National Theatre.
62Was in frail health while filming The Boys from Brazil (1978), having recently undergone surgery for kidney stones.
63He was originally cast in Burt Lancaster's role in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).
64According to Spartacus (1960) co-star Peter Ustinov, Olivier felt most comfortable acting when wearing a wig, a fake nose or having some other elaborate make-up put on. He often insisted on this, even when it was not particularly required for the role he played.
65Truman Capote pronounced his last name "Oliver".
66One of the 20th century's greatest orators, his last role as the Old Soldier in Derek Jarman's War Requiem (1989) had no dialogue.
67When Olivier first arrived in Hollywood in 1932, his height was measured at exactly five feet ten inches and his weight at 145 lbs.
68Is portrayed by Julian Sands in Kenneth Tynan: In Praise of Hardcore (2005).
69He was asked by the the Ministry of Information to play the French-Canadian trapper Johnny in 49th Parallel (1941), a film commissioned by the Ministry to raise awareness of the Nazi threat in North America, particularly the United States. However, it was intended for Canadian consumption also, as many French-Canadians did not want to be at war with Germany and did not want to fight. Vichy France was an ally of Nazi Germany, and many French-Canadians in Quebec were pro-German. That's the reason Olivier, the biggest star in the film, was asked to play a French-Canadian who tells the Nazi officer he is a "Canadian" and not "French". It was felt Oliver would intensify the film's value as pro-British propaganda in Quebec ("Olivier", of course, is a French surname; his great-great-grandfather was of French Huguenot descent). When Canada resorted to conscription to swell the ranks of its army, there were draft riots throughout Quebec, so intense was the feeling against the United Kingdom, which of course had subjugated New France less than 200 years before. Anti-war sentiment was so rife throughout Canada that Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King declared that only volunteers would be shipped off to Europe.
70His 1964 "Othello" at the National Theatre was acclaimed by many critics as the work of a master thespian operating at the top of his craft, but ironically, while playing the role on stage at the Old Vic, Olivier for the first time in his career became afflicted by stage fright. He had to ask other actors, particularly Robert Stephens, who played his Iago, not to look him in the eye, lest he be distracted and lose his ability to say the lines. Although he was afflicted by stage fright for the last 10 years of his stage career, he was determined to fight through it and not have it drive him from the stage. He succeeded, and last appeared on stage in 1974, in Trevor Griffiths "The Party", in which he had to deliver a 20-minute soliloquy.
71Actor William Redfield, a friend of Marlon Brando who played Guildenstern in Richard Burton's Hamlet (1964) directed by John Gielgud, writes in his 1967 memoir of the production "Letters from an Actor" that Brando had been considered the Great White Hope of his generation of American actors. That is, they believed that Brando's more naturalistic style, combined with his greatness as an actor, would prove a challenge to the more stylized and technical English acting paradigm epitomized by Olvier, Brando's rival as the world's greatest actor. Redfield would tell Burton stories of Brando, whom he had not yet met. Refield sadly confessed that Brando, by not taking on roles such as Hamlet, had failed to help American actors create an acting tradition that would rival the English.
72Was the first person to direct himself to a Best Actor Academy Award (in Hamlet (1948)).
73He was offered roles in Coronation Street (1960) and Doctor Who (1963).
74Richard Burton, who was appearing on Broadway in 1960 in the original production of Alan Jay Lerner's and Frederick Loewe's smash musical "Camelot", hosted a New York reception for Olivier to honor his third marriage, to Joan Plowright. Olivier himself was appearing on Broadway in "Becket", in the title role, a role Burton would play in the film version (Becket (1964)). Playing the role on film that Olivier had originated on stage brought Burton his third Academy Award nomination, his first in 11 years.
75Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck said that Olivier's 1964 turn as Othello at the National Theatre in London was the greatest performance he had ever seen. Though Olivier received an Oscar nomination in 1966 for his performance in the film version of the National Theatre production, many critics said that the performance captured on film was merely a shadow of what they had seen on stage. Other critics trashed the performance as rubbish, both on-stage and screen, accusing Olivier of making the noble Moor (Moors are considered Caucasian, that is, white under European classification systems developed in the 19th century) into a racist caricature akin to "Old Black Joe." For his part, Olivier had wanted to give Othello "Negritude" (Sammy Davis Jr. claimed that Olivier had come to see him perform multiple times and copied some of his mannerisms in his Othello) in order to comment on racism. He wanted the audience to dislike Othello until the very end, when he is destroyed by the tragedy Iago has hatched for him. Then, the audience would be complicit in Othello's destruction (as they had despised Othello too as a "negro" rather than as the white man in black face he had always been portrayed as by British actors), and their guilt at the destroyed innocent (and their shame over their own racism) would bring them to the point of catharsis. Olivier described it as pushing the audience away for most of the play before drawing them back into his palm.
761973: He last appeared on the stage in Trevor Griffiths' play "The Party" at the National Theatre, a role in which he had to deliver a 20-minute soliloquy. He won rave reviews in the role.
775/83: He flew to New York to receive an award at the Lincoln Center, where Douglas Fairbanks Jr. described him as "one hell of an actor". The next evening, Olivier and Joan Plowright went to Washington where, after a showing of King Lear (1983), President Ronald Reagan gave a small dinner party for them at the White House. In the summer of that year, Olivier again suffered from pleurisy, and stayed in St. Thomas's Hospital for three weeks for the removal of a kidney.
787/70: While playing Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" at the National Theatre, he was hospitalized with pleurisy and a thrombosis of the right leg. In September 1974, he fell sick during a holiday in Italy with director Franco Zeffirelli, and after x-rays and blood tests back in England at the Royal Sussex Hospital he was diagnosed with dermato-poly-myositis, a rare muscle disorder. For three months, he remained critically sick in the hospital, and was told he could never act on stage again.
796/67: Underwent hyperbaric radiation treatment for prostate cancer at St. Thomas' Hospital, London. On July 7, he discharged himself from the hospital, where he had been confined to bed with pneumonia as a complication of the cancer treatment, after Vivien Leigh died. In the following year, he had his appendix removed.
8010/20/89: A memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey. Joan Plowright and the three children of his last marriage were the chief mourners, along with Tarquin, Hester, and Olivier's first wife, Jill Esmond, in a wheelchair. Olivier's trophies were carried in a procession: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. carried the insignia of Olivier's Order of Merit, Michael Caine bore his Oscar for lifetime achievement, Maggie Smith a silver model of the Chichester theatre, Paul Scofield a silver model of the National, Derek Jacobi the crown worn in Richard III (1955), Peter O'Toole the script used in Hamlet (1948), Ian McKellen the laurel wreath worn in the stage production of "Coriolanus", Dorothy Tutin the crown worn for King Lear (1983), and Frank Finlay the sword presented to Olivier by John Gielgud, once worn by the 18-century actor Edmund Kean. Albert Finney read from Ecclesiastes: "To everything there is a season... A time to be born and a time to die". John Mills read from I Corinthians: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels..." Peggy Ashcroft read from John Milton's "Lycidas". Gielgud read "Death Be Not Proud" by John Donne. Alec Guinness gave an address in which he suggested that Olivier's greatness lay in a happy combination of imagination, physical magnetism, a commanding and appealing voice, an expressive eye, and danger: "Larry always carried the threat of danger with him; primarily as an actor but also, for all his charm, as a private man. There were times when it was wise to be wary of him." He reminded the audience that Olivier has been brought up as a High Anglican, and said he did not think the need for devotion or the mystery of things ever quite left him. The climax of the service was Olivier's own taped voice echoing round the abbey as he delivered the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V (1944). Its quiet resolution was the choir singing "Fear no more the heat o' the sun" from "Cymbeline".
81Following a bad fall in March 1989, Olivier endured his final operation, a hip replacement. His sister Sybille died the following month at age 87. By early July, his one remaining kidney was in a precarious state, and he was given a maximum of six weeks left to live. At the time of his death, at 11:15 a.m. on July 11, 1989, he had been sick for the last 22 years of his life.
82Alec Guinness wrote about an incident at the Old Vic when, in the company of Olivier in the basement of the theater, he asked where a certain tunnel went. Olivier did not really know but confidently decided to take the tunnel as it must come out somewhere nearby. In reality, the tunnel went under the Thames, and they were rescued after several hours of fruitless navigation of the dark, damp corridor. Guiness remarked that Olivier's willingness to plunge into the dark and unknown was characteristic of the type of person (and actor) he was. As for himself as an actor, Guiness lamented at times that he did not take enough chances.
83Alec Guinness played The Fool to his first Lear under the direction of Tyrone Guthrie in 1938 when he was 24 and Olivier was 31. Olivier was generally considered less than successful in the role due to his youth and relative lack of maturity in classical roles (though his contemporaneous Henry V was a smash and hinted at his future greatness as an interpreter of William Shakespeare). However, Guinness received raves for his acting. Both actors would go on to knighthoods and Best Actor Oscars in their long and distinguished careers.
841970: He became the first actor made a peer of the realm (the only others subsequently being Bernard Miles in 1979 and Richard Attenborough in 1993) when Harold Wilson's second Labour government secured him a life peerage to represent the interests of the theater in the House of Lords. He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Olivier of Brighton in 1970.
85He wrote in his autobiography, "Confessions of an Actor", that sometime after World War II, his wife Vivien Leigh announced calmly that she was no longer in love with him, but loved him like a brother. Olivier was emotionally devastated. What he did not know at the time was that Leigh's declaration--and her subsequent affairs with multiple partners--was a signal of the bipolar disorder that eventually disrupted her life and career. Leigh had every intention of remaining married to Olivier, but was no longer interested in him romantically. Olivier himself began having affairs (including one with Claire Bloom in the 1950s, according to Bloom's own autobiography) as Leigh's attentions wandered and roamed outside of the marital bedchamber. Olivier had to accompany her to Hollywood in 1950 in order to keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble, to ensure that her manic-depression did not get out of hand and disrupt the production of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). In order to do so, he accepted a role in William Wyler's Carrie (1952), which was shot at the same time as "Streetcar". The Oliviers were popular with Hollywood's elite, and Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando both liked "Larry" very much (that was the reason that Brando gave in his own autobiography for not sleeping with Leigh, whom he thought had a superior posterior: he couldn't raid Olivier's "chicken coop", as "Larry was such a nice guy.") None of them knew the depths of the anguish he was enduring as the caretaker of his mentally ill wife. Brando said that Leigh was superior to Jessica Tandy--the original stage Blanche DuBois--as she WAS Blanche. Olivier himself had directed Leigh in the role on the London stage.
86He discovered Peter Finch when Olivier and his theatrical company, which included his wife Vivien Leigh, were conducting a tour of Australia in 1948. Olivier signed the young Aussie to a personal contract and Finch became part of Olivier's theatrical company, traveling back to London with his new employer, where he made his name as an actor. Finch then proceeded to cuckold his mentor and employer by bedding Olivier's wife, Leigh. Olivier was personally humiliated but, ever the trouper, he kept the talented Finch under contract; Finch, who had been born in London, flourished as a theatrical actor after the career break given him by Olivier. Finch and Leigh carried on a long affair, and since Leigh was bipolar and her manic-depression frequently manifested itself in nymphomania, some speculate that Olivier subconsciously might have been grateful for Finch's attentions to his wife, as he occupied Leigh's hours and kept her out of worse trouble and, by extension, saved Olivier from even worse embarrassment.
874/21/58: According to Time magazine, as an addendum to its cover story on Alec Guinness, in 1957 Olivier turned down a Hollywood offer of $250,000 for one motion picture. Instead of making the movie and pocketing the cash (worth approximately $1.7 million in 2005 terms), Olivier preferred to take on the role of Archie Rice in John Osborne's The Entertainer (1960) (a role written specifically for him) at the princely sum of £45 per week (worth $126 in 1957 dollars at the contemporaneous exchange rate, or $856 in 2005 terms).
88John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson were considered equal to Olivier in the classical repertoire -- and in Shakespeare. Gielgud was felt to have bested him due to his mellifluous voice, which Olivier himself said "wooed the world" -- but it was widely felt that Olivier as a stage actor exceeded both of them in contemporary plays such as John Osbourne's The Entertainer (1960). He also was, by far, the better regarded movie actor, winning one Best Actor Oscar among 10 acting Academy Award acting nominations (all but one in the Best Actor category) versus one Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Gielgud (among two supporting nominations) and two Supporting Actor nods for Richardson. Olivier also was a movie star (commanding a salary of $1 million in 1979 for Inchon (1981), approximately $3 million in 2006 dollars), whereas the other theatrical knights were not.
892006: His performance as Richard III in Richard III (1955) is ranked #39 on Premiere magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.
90Was nominated 13 times for the Academy Award, nine times as Best Actor, once as Best Supporting Actor, twice for Best Picture, and once as Best Director. In the acting field, only Jack Nicholson and Katharine Hepburn with 12 acting nominations each (Nicholson: 8 Best Actor and 4 Best Supporting Actor nominations; Hepburn, all in the Best Actress category) and Meryl Streep with 16 (13 in the Best Actress category) have more acting nods than Olivier (Bette Davis was nominated 10 times for an Academy Award, all of them Best Actress nods.).
91Was the first thespian nominated for an acting Oscar in five different decades, from the 1930s through the 1970s, inclusive. Only Katharine Hepburn (1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s), Paul Newman (1950s, 1960s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s) and Jack Nicholson (1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s) equaled this feat. In contrast, Bette Davis' ten nominations and Spencer Tracy's eight were spread over four decades (1930s through 1960s, inclusive) while Marlon Brando's eight nominations were bunched into three decades (1950s, 1970s, 1980s).
92Generally considered the greatest Macbeth of the 20th century for his second stage portrayal of the role in the 1950s, he had hoped to bring "The Scotish Play" to the big screen in the late 1950s, but the failure of his movie Richard III (1955) to make back its money frustrated his plans. Producer Michael Todd, Elizabeth Taylor's third husband, told Olivier in 1958 that he likely would produce the film with Olivier as Macbeth and Olivier's real-life wife Vivien Leigh as his Lady, but that hope died in the plane crash that claimed Todd's life. Thus, the infamous "Macbeth curse" prevented the greatest actor of the 20th century from realizing his dream. Movie critic Pauline Kael, who considered Olivier the "wittiest actor" in film history, considered it a tragedy and said that it showed that there was something fundamentally wrong with the commercial filmmaking industry, that it could deny such a great talent a chance to make such a potentially significant film. Olivier never directed another Shakespearean film after the "failure" of "Richard III".
93Luchino Visconti wanted to cast him in the title role of the Italian prince in The Leopard (1963), but his producer overruled him. The producer insisted on a box-office star to justify the lavish production's high budget and essentially forced Visconti to accept Burt Lancaster. A decade later, the two Oscar-winning actors competed again for the role of another Italian prince, Mafia chieftain Don Corleone, in The Godfather (1972), ultimately losing out to Marlon Brando, Oliver's only rival for the title of world's greatest actor.
94Lord Olivier perfected an Italian accent in order to play Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972), and was signed to play the role. However, at the last moment, he fell sick and was replaced by Marlon Brando.
95Won three Best Actor Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle: as the eponymous protagonists of Shakespeare's Henry V (1944) and Hamlet (1948), and as the mystery writer in Sleuth (1972).
96When he went to Hollywood in the early 1930s, studio executives wanted him to change his name to "Larry Oliver". He said that later on in his highly successful career, he would muse with his friends about what might have become of him, what kind of career he would have had, if he had changed his name to "Larry Oliver", as that name connoted a different type of actor. Actually, there was an American actor with that name who appeared six times on Broadway between 1930 and 1965, most notably in Garson Kanin's "Born Yesterday". The "real" Larry Oliver repeated his Broadway performance as the politician Norval Hedges in the 1950 movie version of the play, (Born Yesterday (1950)), his only film appearance (a senator on Broadway, Larry Oliver's character had been demoted to a Congressman for the film, but he was again bumped up to the Senate in the 1956 "Hallmark Hall of Fame" teleplay).
97Is portrayed by Andrew Clarke in Blonde (2001), by Anthony Higgins in Darlings of the Gods (1989) by Anthony Gordon in Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980), and by Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn (2011).
98The first thespian to receive both a Best Actor Oscar (for Hamlet (1948)) and a Worst Actor Razzie (for Inchon (1981)).
99Was named the #14 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by the American Film Institute.
100His great-great-grandfather, Daniel Stephen Olivier, was from a French Huguenot family; they fled from France to England around the 17th century, as they were Protestants, who were being persecuted by the majority Catholics.
101Modelled the accent for his character of George Hurstwood, an American living in turn-of-the-last-century Chicago in Carrie (1952), on Spencer Tracy.
102Olivier delivered one of the more eccentric acceptance speeches in 1979, upon receiving an Oscar statuette for Lifetime Achievement. His rundown of thanked Academy bigwigs, colleagues and friends included kudos to "my very noble and approved good masters", a quote from Shakespeare's "Othello", Act I, Scene 3, line 77. (Olivier had received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the role in 1966, losing out to Lee Marvin.) Characterizing the acceptance speech, John J. O'Connor of the 'New York Times' wrote, "Olivier lapsed into a curiously rambling, slightly sticky, extended metaphor about stars and firmaments.".
1031958: Was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "The Entertainer", a role he recreated in an Oscar-nominated performance in the film version of the same name, The Entertainer (1960). This was his only nomination for a Tony, an award he never won.
104Appeared with John Gielgud in Romeo and Juliet (1936) in which he and Gielgud alternated the roles of Romeo and Mercutio. Gielgud got the better reviews in the lead of Romeo, which spurred Olivier on to become a better actor.
105The Society of London Theatre renamed the Society of West End Theatre Awards, which had been launched in 1976, "The Laurence Olivier Awards" in his honor in 1984. The annual awards are considered the most prestigious in the London theater world.
106Turned down the role of Humbert in Lolita (1962). He originally agreed with Stanley Kubrick, his director on Spartacus (1960), to appear in his film of Vladimir Nabokov's controversial classic, but dropped out on the advice of his agent. Ironically, Kubrick shared the same agent.
107Was gradually forced out of his position as head of the National Theatre by the board of directors after the board vetoed a production of Rolf Hochhuth's 1968 play "Soldaten" ("Soldiers"). The controversial play, championed by National Theatre dramaturge Kenneth Tynan, implied that Winston Churchill had arranged the death of General Wladyslaw Sikorski, prime minister of the Polish government-in-exile, and the fire-bombing of civilians during World War II. Olivier, who revered Churchill, backed his dramaturge, but Tynan was sacked and Olivier's position was undermined, thus compromising the independence of the National Theatre. After unsuccessfully canvassing Albert Finney, Olivier tried to interest Richard Burton in taking over the National Theatre after his imminent retirement from the post. Burton declined, seeing the great Olivier forced out of his beloved theater that he had built over two decades and for which he had become the first actor peer.
108In her autobiography "Limelight and After", Claire Bloom claims that her lover Olivier merely went through the motions during their affair in the mid-1950s. She thought Olivier seduced her as that was what a great actor was supposed to do.
109Orson Welles wrote his novel Confidential Report (1955) during an extended stay with Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh. Welles was appearing at Olivier's St. James theater in London at the time in his fabled production of Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), which had been produced by Michael Todd in New York. Todd, who later made the film without Welles participation, had offered to produce a film version of "Macbeth" to be directed by and starring Olivier, but he died in 1958 before the plans could be finalized.
110Lifelong friends with Ralph Richardson, whom he met and befriended in London as a young acting student during the 1920s, he was dismayed that Richardson expected to play Buckingham in his film of Shakespeare's Richard III (1955). Olivier wanted Orson Welles, another friend, to play the role but could not deny his oldest friend. In his autobiography, Olivier says he wishes he had disappointed Richardson and cast Welles instead as he would have brought an extra element to the screen, an intelligence that would have gone well with the plot element of conspiracy.
111In his 1983 autobiography "Confessions of an Actor", Olivier writes that upon meeting Marilyn Monroe preparatory to the commencement of production of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), he was convinced he was going to fall in love with her. During production, Olivier bore the brunt of Marilyn's famous indiscipline and wound up despising her. However, he admits that she was wonderful in the film, the best thing in it, her performance overshadowing his own, and that the final result was worth the aggravation.
112According to producer Robert Evans, he could not obtain insurance for Olivier to appear in Marathon Man (1976). He went ahead with Olivier despite the obstacle. Evans and the rest of the production members, particularly Dustin Hoffman, were quite charmed by the man Hoffman called "Sir". Several years earlier, Evans -- as chief of production at Paramount -- had given the go-ahead to offer Olivier the role of Don Corleone in The Godfather (1972), but Olivier was unable to accept the role due to illness.
113According to Olivier in his autobiography "Confessions of an Actor", when he went to Hollywood in the early 1930s as the "next Ronald Colman", one studio wanted to change his name to "Larry Oliver". He often wondered what his career would have been like if he kept that less-distinguished name, whether his career would have been as sorry as the name.
114His oldest son by Jill Esmond, Tarquin Olivier, says in his 1993 memoir "My Father Laurence Olivier" that he was shocked when meeting his father in California in the early 1980s that he was dissatisfied with his career and felt something of a failure. Olivier belittled his own achievements and held up the career of Cary Grant as the paradigm of greatness. Grant, who had a fortune estimated at $70 million by Look Magazine in its February 23, 1971, issue (an amount equivalent to $300 million in 2003 dollars), was the person who presented Olivier with his career achievement Oscar in 1979. The two were acquaintances, never friends.
115His oldest son Tarquin Olivier was 10 months old when Olivier left his mother, actress Jill Esmond, for Vivien Leigh in 1937. Despite Olivier virtually ignoring him after marrying Joan Plowright in 1961, Tarquin was extremely forgiving in his 1993 memoir "My Father Laurence Olivier". Tarquin contends that the rumors about his father were becoming more outrageous with each new biography and dismissed the stories that Olivier had had affairs with Danny Kaye and Kenneth Tynan as "unforgivable garbage".
116Was chosen to play Antonio in Queen Christina (1933) but was rejected by Greta Garbo after an initial meeting at the studio. The role later went to Garbo's former lover John Gilbert, whose career had hit bottom after the advent of sound. In his autobiography "Confessions of an Actor", Olivier says that he understands why she behaved the way she did, but in Felix Barker's 1953 "The Oliviers - A Biography", it was plain that Olivier and his career were hurt by being rejected by the biggest star in Hollywood. Olivier had had to sail from England to America, and then sail back, all under the harsh glare of the Hollywood publicity machine.
117Wanted desperately to stage "Guys and Dolls" in the early 1970s, as he dreamed of playing Sky Masterson, but after stringing him along for several years, the board of governors of the National Theatre vetoed any chance of a production. After years of being hamstrung by the board, Olivier resigned as artistic director in 1973 without being able to name his successor. The governors appointed Peter Hall, founder of the National Theatre's great rival, the Royal Shakespeare Company, as director to replace Olivier. The move is widely seen as an insult to Olivier, who had given up an incalculable fortune in potential earnings in the commercial theater and in motion pictures to make his dream of a National Theatre a reality. However, he was honored by having the largest auditorium in the under-construction National Theatre building named after him. "Guys and Dolls" was eventually staged by the National Theatre in 1982.
118The Olivier Theatre, the largest theatre in the new National Theatre complex on the south bank of the Thames, opened on 10/4/76 with Albert Finney playing Christopher Marlowe's "Tamburlaine The Great", directed by Peter Hall. The Queen officially opened the National Theatre on October 25. Years later, Michael Caine met his former co-star at the theater named after him, and asked him if he could get in for free. No, he could not, answered Olivier, but he told Caine that he would work on it.
119His acting in Hamlet (1948) is discussed by Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger's novel "The Catcher in the Rye".
120Said once that he always visualized the physical appearance of a character that he was going to play before he did anything else.
121He is considered by many people to be the greatest English-speaking actor of the twentieth century, even more so than Marlon Brando and Spencer Tracy.
122He was voted the 20th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
123Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890- 1945". Pages 837-843. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
124Father of four children: sons Tarquin Olivier and Richard Olivier, and daughters Julie Kate Olivier and Tamsin Olivier.
1252014: His film version of Shakespeare's Hamlet (1948) is still, to date, the only film of a Shakespeare play to win the Oscar for Best Picture, and the only one to actually win an Oscar for acting (Olivier for Best Actor).
126While performing a live production of "Hamlet" he completely blanked during the "to be or not to be" soliloquy. He then sat down and remained there until he remembered the lines.
127Attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.
128Godfather of Victoria Tennant.
129Ex-brother-in-law of race car driver Jack Esmond.
130Ex-son-in-law of actress Eva Moore. She was Jack and Jill Esmond's mother.
1312001: Ranked tenth in the Orange Film Survey of greatest British actors.
132His father, a clergyman, decided Laurence would become an actor.
133In the book "Melting the Stone: A Journey Around My Father" by his son Richard Olivier, Richard describes Laurence as being more interested in his work than in his children; he never looked back fondly on his career and would actually become depressed when he did not have a job.
134Wife #1 Jill Esmond named Vivien Leigh --wife #2--as co-respondent in her 1940 divorce from Olivier on grounds of adultery. Leigh named Joan Plowright --wife #3--as co-respondent in her 1960 divorce from Olivier, also on grounds of adultery.
135Directed two actors to Oscar nominations: Himself (Best Actor, Henry V (1944)); Best Actor, Hamlet (1948); Best Actor, Richard III (1955)), and Jean Simmons (Best Supporting Actress, Hamlet (1948)). He won an Oscar for his turn in Hamlet, making him and Roberto Benigni the only two actors to have directed themselves in Oscar-winning performances.
136He was seriously considered for the role of Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972) before Marlon Brando was cast.
137Father, with Jill Esmond, of son Tarquin Olivier.
138Knighted in the 1947 King's New Year Honours List, made a life peer in the 1970 Queen's Birthday Honours List, awarded the Order of Merit in 1981.
13910/97: Ranked #46 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
140Even with his noble titles, he refused to carry on a conversation with anyone who would not address him as "Larry".
1411985: When presenting at the Oscars, he forgot to name the Best Picture nominees. He simply opened the envelope and proclaimed, "Amadeus (1984)".
142He was director Michael Anderson's choice to play Adolf Hitler in a Columbia Pictures epic, "16th of December: The Battle of the Bulge", which had the blessing of Eisenhower and the Defense Department, but the project was abandoned after Warner Brothers appropriated the title "The Battle of the Bulge" for a generic war film with Henry Fonda.
143He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6319 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
144He had three Shakespearean roles in common with Orson Welles: (1) Welles played Othello in Othello (1952) while Olivier played him in Othello (1965), (2) Welles played King Lear in Omnibus: King Lear (1953) while Olivier played him in King Lear (1983) and (3) Welles played Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (1969) while Olivier played him in The Merchant of Venice (1973).
145He played three English kings: Henry V in The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944), Richard III in Richard III (1955) and William III in Peter the Great (1986).
146He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dr. Christian Szell in Marathon Man (1976). Kenneth Branagh was nominated for the same award for playing Olivier in My Week with Marilyn (2011).
147He played Zeus in Clash of the Titans (1981) and was succeeded in the role by his The Bounty (1984) co-star Liam Neeson in the remake Clash of the Titans (2010) and its sequel Wrath of the Titans (2012).
148He played Claire Bloom's husband in both Richard III (1955) and Clash of the Titans (1981).
149Although he was 47 when he played the title character in Richard III (1955), King Richard III of England was only 32 years old when he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485.
150Along with Spencer Tracy, he is one of only two actors to receive nine nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He was nominated for Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca (1940), The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944), Hamlet (1948), Richard III (1955), The Entertainer (1960), Othello (1965), Sleuth (1972) and The Boys from Brazil (1978). He only won the Academy Award for Hamlet (1948).
151All five of the films that he directed were adaptations of plays: The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955) were all based on the plays of the same names by William Shakespeare, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) was based on the play "The Sleeping Prince" by Terence Rattigan and Three Sisters (1970) was based on the play of the same name by Anton Chekhov.
152Of the five films that he directed, Three Sisters (1970) was the only one in which he did not play a member of a royal family. He played Dr. Ivan Chebutikin in that film while he played King Henry V of England in The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944), Prince Hamlet of Denmark in Hamlet (1948), King Richard III of England in Richard III (1955) and Prince Michael of Carpathia in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
153He died only nine days after Franklin J. Schaffner, who directed him in both Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and The Boys from Brazil (1978).
154He made six films with John Laurie: As You Like It (1936), Clouds Over Europe (1939), Adventure for Two (1943), The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955). He also directed the latter three films.
155He made five films with Felix Aylmer: The Temporary Widow (1930), As You Like It (1936), Adventure for Two (1943), The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944) and Hamlet (1948). He also directed the latter two films.
156Although he played Joan Plowright's father in The Entertainer (1960), they married several months after the film was released.
157Although he played Eileen Herlie's son in Hamlet (1948), he was almost eleven years her senior in real life.
158His father Gerard Kerr Olivier was born on April 30, 1869 and died on March 30, 1939 while his mother Agnes Louise Crookenden Olivier was born on December 1, 1871 and died on March 27, 1920.
159His elder sister Sybille Olivier was born on July 26, 1901 and died in April 1989 while his elder brother Gerard Dacres Olivier was born on September 5, 1904 and died on November 28, 1958.
160His uncle Sydney Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier served as the Governor of Jamaica from May 16, 1907 to January 1913 and as the Secretary of State for India from January 22, 1924 to November 3, 1924 in the first British Labour government under the leadership of Ramsay MacDonald. In contrast to his uncle, Laurence Olivier was a supporter of the Conservative Party.
161He only appeared in two Shakespearean theatrical films which he did not direct himself: As You Like It (1936) and Othello (1965). He played Orlando in the former and the title character in the latter.
162He played a Nazi war criminal, Dr. Christian Szell, in Marathon Man (1976) and a survivor of the Holocaust, Ezra Lieberman, in The Boys from Brazil (1978). He received Academy Award nominations for both films - Best Supporting Actor for the former and Best Actor for the latter - but did not win either award.
163He has three Shakespearean roles in common with Ian McKellen: (1) Olivier played Hamlet in Hamlet (1948) while McKellen played him in Hamlet (1970), (2) Olivier played King Richard III in Richard III (1955) while McKellen played him in Richard III (1995) and (3) Olivier played King Lear in King Lear (1983) while McKellen played him in King Lear (2008).
164He directed Esmond Knight in four of his five films: The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944), Hamlet (1948), Richard III (1955) and The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). The only film that he directed in which Knight did not appear was Three Sisters (1970).
165Along with Orson Welles, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Kenneth Branagh, Clint Eastwood and Roberto Benigni, he is one of only seven people to receive Academy Award nominations for both Best Actor and Best Director for the same film: Welles for Citizen Kane (1941), Olivier for Hamlet (1948), Allen for Annie Hall (1977), Beatty for Reds (1981), Branagh for Henry V (1989), Eastwood for Unforgiven (1992) and Benigni for Life Is Beautiful (1997).
166He has two roles in common with Kenneth Branagh, who played him in My Week with Marilyn (2011): (1) Olivier played King Henry V in The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944) while Branagh played him in Henry V (1989) and (2) Olivier played the title character in Hamlet (1948) while Branagh played him in Hamlet (1996). In each case, Olivier and Branagh directed the relevant film.
167He directed Russell Thorndike in The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955) and his sister Sybil Thorndike in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).
168He has three roles in common with his Hamlet (1948) co-star Peter Cushing: (1) Olivier played Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (1940) while Cushing played him in Pride and Prejudice (1952), (2) Cushing played Rudolf Hess in You Are There: The Escape of Rudolf Hess (1953) while Olivier played him in Wild Geese II (1985) and (3) Cushing played Professor Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) while Olivier played him in Dracula (1979).
169He appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners: Rebecca (1940) and Hamlet (1948). He also directed the latter.
170A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).
171Dustin Hoffman has said that, contrary to rumors that he and Olivier did not get along while making Marathon Man (1976), Olivier and then-wife Joan Plowright took Hoffman to dinner several times, and presented him with Olivier's personal copy of "The Complete Works of Shakespeare" once filming ended.
172He was honored as Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month for April 2013.
173Olivier was knighted in July 1947 while working on Hamlet (1948).
174Garson Kanin and Katharine Hepburn acted as witnesses for the Olivier's 1940 marriage to Vivien Leigh.
175Jourdain Olivier, an ancestor, arrived in Britain in 1688 as chaplain to William of Orange.
176Was awarded a Knight Bachelor on June 12, 1947 in the King's Birthday Honours, becoming at age 40 the youngest actor so honored. Sir Cedric Hardwicke, knighted at age 41, had previously held the record.
177Was awarded a life peer on June 13, 1970 in the Queen's Birthday Honours as Baron Olivier, of Brighton in the County of Sussex, the first actor to be accorded this distinction.
178Admitted to the Order of Merit in 1981, the first actor so honored in its 79-year-long history. The Order of Merit recognizes distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture. Admission into the order is the personal gift of the sovereign of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms and is limited to 24 living recipients at one time from these countries plus a limited number of honorary members. Seven years after Olivier's death, John Gielgud was made a member of the Order, the second actor so honored.
179The Laurence Olivier Awards, first established in 1976 as the Society of West End Theatre Awards, were renamed in his honor in 1984, with Lord Olivier's permission. The Olivier awards are managed and financed by the Society of London Theatre. They are the British equivalent of the Tony Award. The award features a bust of Laurence Olivier as Henry V at the Old Vic in 1937 and was designed by the sculptor Harry Franchetti.
180Was director Luchino Visconti's first choice for the Prince in The Leopard (1963), but the Italian producers wanted an international box office star to make the film more marketable. Burt Lancaster, a Top Ten box office star in the United States, was cast instead.
181Was director John Frankenheimer's first choice for the lead in Seconds (1966), but the producers did not want Olivier as he was not a box office draw. Rock Hudson was cast instead.
182Was commissioned as a Lieutenant, and trained as a pilot, in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, but never called into service, and was ultimately released from his obligation in 1944. To show his solidarity with Allied servicemen, he made The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944).
183Ex-stepfather of Suzanne Farrington.
184Was considered for the role of Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966) but Paul Scofield, who went on to win a Best Actor Oscar for his performance, was cast instead.
185Became friends with Wuthering Heights (1939) co-stars David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald and, eventually, Merle Oberon.
186Following the election of a new Labour government in the mid 1970s, Olivier found his tax rate almost doubled. Michael Caine advised him to to leave England, but Olivier was unwilling to do so. Caine then suggested he do every job offered to him - so Olivier appeared in many projects he otherwise would have passed on.
187The filmmakers wanted him to play Clive Candy in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), but he was prevented from being furloughed from the Navy to take the role by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who did not want the film to be made. Churchill did not want to bolster the production with an actor and star of Olivier's calibre as it felt the movie was critical of a type of British patriot. Olivier was allowed to take a leave from the Navy to make a film about Shakespeare's patriotic King Henry V in The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944). Roger Livesey was cast instead. A generation later, he played Olivier's father Billy Rice in The Entertainer (1960), though he was less than a year older than him.
188Addressed President John F. Kennedy's inauguration on January 20, 1961.
189He was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film culture.
190Attended St. Edward's School, Oxford, a top British Boarding school.
19110/76: On the opening night of the National Theatre, he gave a speech finishing with the words, "I thank you for your kind attention, and for the glory, and the luster, of your attendance." It was tinged with much hidden meaning as the few years leading to the opening had seen Olivier decline all attempts to involve him in the process of setting up the new building after much animosity between him and those in charge. It was the only time he ever set foot on the stage of the theatre which bears his name.
192The son of a high church Anglican, Olivier was a lifelong Conservative. In 1983, he wrote to congratulate Margaret Thatcher following her victory in that year's General Election. He declined the offer of a peerage from Harold Wilson's Labour government in 1967, despite Wilson's insistence that it was not a political honor. Olivier was finally persuaded when it was presented to him that he could best represent the interests of the National Theatre as a member of the House of Lords. (By that time, Olivier had lost some bruising battles withe the National's board of directors headed by the hereditary peer Oliver Lyttelton, 1st Viscount Chandos.) Wilson secured a life peerage for Olivier in the Queen's Birthday Honours of June 13, 1970, five days before he lost the general election to Edward Heath's Conservatives. When he took his seat in House of Lords, the Conservatives were in power. Aside from his maiden speech when he was introduced to the chamber, Olivier never spoke to the body again or used the Lords to help the National Theatre.
193Was in frail health while filming The Boys from Brazil (1978), having recently undergone surgery for kidney stones.
194He was originally cast in Burt Lancaster's role in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961).
195According to Spartacus (1960) co-star Peter Ustinov, Olivier felt most comfortable acting when wearing a wig, a fake nose or having some other elaborate make-up put on. He often insisted on this, even when it was not particularly required for the role he played.
196Truman Capote pronounced his last name "Oliver".
197One of the 20th century's greatest orators, his last role as the Old Soldier in Derek Jarman's War Requiem (1989) had no dialogue.
198When Olivier first arrived in Hollywood in 1932, his height was measured at exactly five feet ten inches and his weight at 145 lbs.
199Is portrayed by Julian Sands in Kenneth Tynan: In Praise of Hardcore (2005).
200He was asked by the the Ministry of Information to play the French-Canadian trapper Johnny in 49th Parallel (1941), a film commissioned by the Ministry to raise awareness of the Nazi threat in North America, particularly the United States. However, it was intended for Canadian consumption also, as many French-Canadians did not want to be at war with Germany and did not want to fight. Vichy France was an ally of Nazi Germany, and many French-Canadians in Quebec were pro-German. That's the reason Olivier, the biggest star in the film, was asked to play a French-Canadian who tells the Nazi officer he is a "Canadian" and not "French". It was felt Oliver would intensify the film's value as pro-British propaganda in Quebec ("Olivier", of course, is a French surname; his great-great-grandfather was of French Huguenot descent). When Canada resorted to conscription to swell the ranks of its army, there were draft riots throughout Quebec, so intense was the feeling against the United Kingdom, which of course had subjugated New France less than 200 years before. Anti-war sentiment was so rife throughout Canada that Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King declared that only volunteers would be shipped off to Europe.
201His 1964 "Othello" at the National Theatre was acclaimed by many critics as the work of a master thespian operating at the top of his craft, but ironically, while playing the role on stage at the Old Vic, Olivier for the first time in his career became afflicted by stage fright. He had to ask other actors, particularly Robert Stephens, who played his Iago, not to look him in the eye, lest he be distracted and lose his ability to say the lines. Although he was afflicted by stage fright for the last 10 years of his stage career, he was determined to fight through it and not have it drive him from the stage. He succeeded, and last appeared on stage in 1974, in Trevor Griffiths "The Party", in which he had to deliver a 20-minute soliloquy.
202Actor William Redfield, a friend of Marlon Brando who played Guildenstern in Richard Burton's Hamlet (1964) directed by John Gielgud, writes in his 1967 memoir of the production "Letters from an Actor" that Brando had been considered the Great White Hope of his generation of American actors. That is, they believed that Brando's more naturalistic style, combined with his greatness as an actor, would prove a challenge to the more stylized and technical English acting paradigm epitomized by Olvier, Brando's rival as the world's greatest actor. Redfield would tell Burton stories of Brando, whom he had not yet met. Refield sadly confessed that Brando, by not taking on roles such as Hamlet, had failed to help American actors create an acting tradition that would rival the English.
203Was the first person to direct himself to a Best Actor Academy Award (in Hamlet (1948)).
204He was offered roles in Coronation Street (1960) and Doctor Who (1963).
205Richard Burton, who was appearing on Broadway in 1960 in the original production of Alan Jay Lerner's and Frederick Loewe's smash musical "Camelot", hosted a New York reception for Olivier to honor his third marriage, to Joan Plowright. Olivier himself was appearing on Broadway in "Becket", in the title role, a role Burton would play in the film version (Becket (1964)). Playing the role on film that Olivier had originated on stage brought Burton his third Academy Award nomination, his first in 11 years.
206Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck said that Olivier's 1964 turn as Othello at the National Theatre in London was the greatest performance he had ever seen. Though Olivier received an Oscar nomination in 1966 for his performance in the film version of the National Theatre production, many critics said that the performance captured on film was merely a shadow of what they had seen on stage. Other critics trashed the performance as rubbish, both on-stage and screen, accusing Olivier of making the noble Moor (Moors are considered Caucasian, that is, white under European classification systems developed in the 19th century) into a racist caricature akin to "Old Black Joe." For his part, Olivier had wanted to give Othello "Negritude" (Sammy Davis Jr. claimed that Olivier had come to see him perform multiple times and copied some of his mannerisms in his Othello) in order to comment on racism. He wanted the audience to dislike Othello until the very end, when he is destroyed by the tragedy Iago has hatched for him. Then, the audience would be complicit in Othello's destruction (as they had despised Othello too as a "negro" rather than as the white man in black face he had always been portrayed as by British actors), and their guilt at the destroyed innocent (and their shame over their own racism) would bring them to the point of catharsis. Olivier described it as pushing the audience away for most of the play before drawing them back into his palm.
2071973: He last appeared on the stage in Trevor Griffiths' play "The Party" at the National Theatre, a role in which he had to deliver a 20-minute soliloquy. He won rave reviews in the role.
2085/83: He flew to New York to receive an award at the Lincoln Center, where Douglas Fairbanks Jr. described him as "one hell of an actor". The next evening, Olivier and Joan Plowright went to Washington where, after a showing of King Lear (1983), President Ronald Reagan gave a small dinner party for them at the White House. In the summer of that year, Olivier again suffered from pleurisy, and stayed in St. Thomas's Hospital for three weeks for the removal of a kidney.
2097/70: While playing Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" at the National Theatre, he was hospitalized with pleurisy and a thrombosis of the right leg. In September 1974, he fell sick during a holiday in Italy with director Franco Zeffirelli, and after x-rays and blood tests back in England at the Royal Sussex Hospital he was diagnosed with dermato-poly-myositis, a rare muscle disorder. For three months, he remained critically sick in the hospital, and was told he could never act on stage again.
2106/67: Underwent hyperbaric radiation treatment for prostate cancer at St. Thomas' Hospital, London. On July 7, he discharged himself from the hospital, where he had been confined to bed with pneumonia as a complication of the cancer treatment, after Vivien Leigh died. In the following year, he had his appendix removed.
21110/20/89: A memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey. Joan Plowright and the three children of his last marriage were the chief mourners, along with Tarquin, Hester, and Olivier's first wife, Jill Esmond, in a wheelchair. Olivier's trophies were carried in a procession: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. carried the insignia of Olivier's Order of Merit, Michael Caine bore his Oscar for lifetime achievement, Maggie Smith a silver model of the Chichester theatre, Paul Scofield a silver model of the National, Derek Jacobi the crown worn in Richard III (1955), Peter O'Toole the script used in Hamlet (1948), Ian McKellen the laurel wreath worn in the stage production of "Coriolanus", Dorothy Tutin the crown worn for King Lear (1983), and Frank Finlay the sword presented to Olivier by John Gielgud, once worn by the 18-century actor Edmund Kean. Albert Finney read from Ecclesiastes: "To everything there is a season... A time to be born and a time to die". John Mills read from I Corinthians: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels..." Peggy Ashcroft read from John Milton's "Lycidas". Gielgud read "Death Be Not Proud" by John Donne. Alec Guinness gave an address in which he suggested that Olivier's greatness lay in a happy combination of imagination, physical magnetism, a commanding and appealing voice, an expressive eye, and danger: "Larry always carried the threat of danger with him; primarily as an actor but also, for all his charm, as a private man. There were times when it was wise to be wary of him." He reminded the audience that Olivier has been brought up as a High Anglican, and said he did not think the need for devotion or the mystery of things ever quite left him. The climax of the service was Olivier's own taped voice echoing round the abbey as he delivered the St. Crispin's Day speech from The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944). Its quiet resolution was the choir singing "Fear no more the heat o' the sun" from "Cymbeline".
212Following a bad fall in March 1989, Olivier endured his final operation, a hip replacement. His sister Sybille died the following month at age 87. By early July, his one remaining kidney was in a precarious state, and he was given a maximum of six weeks left to live. At the time of his death, at 11:15 a.m. on July 11, 1989, he had been sick for the last 22 years of his life.
213Alec Guinness wrote about an incident at the Old Vic when, in the company of Olivier in the basement of the theater, he asked where a certain tunnel went. Olivier did not really know but confidently decided to take the tunnel as it must come out somewhere nearby. In reality, the tunnel went under the Thames, and they were rescued after several hours of fruitless navigation of the dark, damp corridor. Guiness remarked that Olivier's willingness to plunge into the dark and unknown was characteristic of the type of person (and actor) he was. As for himself as an actor, Guiness lamented at times that he did not take enough chances.
214Alec Guinness played The Fool to his first Lear under the direction of Tyrone Guthrie in 1938 when he was 24 and Olivier was 31. Olivier was generally considered less than successful in the role due to his youth and relative lack of maturity in classical roles (though his contemporaneous Henry V was a smash and hinted at his future greatness as an interpreter of William Shakespeare). However, Guinness received raves for his acting. Both actors would go on to knighthoods and Best Actor Oscars in their long and distinguished careers.
2151970: He became the first actor made a peer of the realm (the only others subsequently being Bernard Miles in 1979 and Richard Attenborough in 1993) when Harold Wilson's second Labour government secured him a life peerage to represent the interests of the theater in the House of Lords. He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Olivier of Brighton in 1970.
216He wrote in his autobiography, "Confessions of an Actor", that sometime after World War II, his wife Vivien Leigh announced calmly that she was no longer in love with him, but loved him like a brother. Olivier was emotionally devastated. What he did not know at the time was that Leigh's declaration--and her subsequent affairs with multiple partners--was a signal of the bipolar disorder that eventually disrupted her life and career. Leigh had every intention of remaining married to Olivier, but was no longer interested in him romantically. Olivier himself began having affairs (including one with Claire Bloom in the 1950s, according to Bloom's own autobiography) as Leigh's attentions wandered and roamed outside of the marital bedchamber. Olivier had to accompany her to Hollywood in 1950 in order to keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble, to ensure that her manic-depression did not get out of hand and disrupt the production of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). In order to do so, he accepted a role in William Wyler's Carrie (1952), which was shot at the same time as "Streetcar". The Oliviers were popular with Hollywood's elite, and Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando both liked "Larry" very much (that was the reason that Brando gave in his own autobiography for not sleeping with Leigh, whom he thought had a superior posterior: he couldn't raid Olivier's "chicken coop", as "Larry was such a nice guy.") None of them knew the depths of the anguish he was enduring as the caretaker of his mentally ill wife. Brando said that Leigh was superior to Jessica Tandy--the original stage Blanche DuBois--as she WAS Blanche. Olivier himself had directed Leigh in the role on the London stage.
217He discovered Peter Finch when Olivier and his theatrical company, which included his wife Vivien Leigh, were conducting a tour of Australia in 1948. Olivier signed the young Aussie to a personal contract and Finch became part of Olivier's theatrical company, traveling back to London with his new employer, where he made his name as an actor. Finch then proceeded to cuckold his mentor and employer by bedding Olivier's wife, Leigh. Olivier was personally humiliated but, ever the trouper, he kept the talented Finch under contract; Finch, who had been born in London, flourished as a theatrical actor after the career break given him by Olivier. Finch and Leigh carried on a long affair, and since Leigh was bipolar and her manic-depression frequently manifested itself in nymphomania, some speculate that Olivier subconsciously might have been grateful for Finch's attentions to his wife, as he occupied Leigh's hours and kept her out of worse trouble and, by extension, saved Olivier from even worse embarrassment.
2184/21/58: According to Time magazine, as an addendum to its cover story on Alec Guinness, in 1957 Olivier turned down a Hollywood offer of $250,000 for one motion picture. Instead of making the movie and pocketing the cash (worth approximately $1.7 million in 2005 terms), Olivier preferred to take on the role of Archie Rice in John Osborne's The Entertainer (1960) (a role written specifically for him) at the princely sum of £45 per week (worth $126 in 1957 dollars at the contemporaneous exchange rate, or $856 in 2005 terms).
219John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson were considered equal to Olivier in the classical repertoire -- and in Shakespeare. Gielgud was felt to have bested him due to his mellifluous voice, which Olivier himself said "wooed the world" -- but it was widely felt that Olivier as a stage actor exceeded both of them in contemporary plays such as John Osbourne's The Entertainer (1960). He also was, by far, the better regarded movie actor, winning one Best Actor Oscar among 10 acting Academy Award acting nominations (all but one in the Best Actor category) versus one Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Gielgud (among two supporting nominations) and two Supporting Actor nods for Richardson. Olivier also was a movie star (commanding a salary of $1 million in 1979 for Inchon (1981), approximately $3 million in 2006 dollars), whereas the other theatrical knights were not.
2202006: His performance as Richard III in Richard III (1955) is ranked #39 on Premiere magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.
221Was nominated 13 times for the Academy Award, nine times as Best Actor, once as Best Supporting Actor, twice for Best Picture, and once as Best Director. In the acting field, only Jack Nicholson and Katharine Hepburn with 12 acting nominations each (Nicholson: 8 Best Actor and 4 Best Supporting Actor nominations; Hepburn, all in the Best Actress category) and Meryl Streep with 16 (13 in the Best Actress category) have more acting nods than Olivier (Bette Davis was nominated 10 times for an Academy Award, all of them Best Actress nods.).
222Was the first thespian nominated for an acting Oscar in five different decades, from the 1930s through the 1970s, inclusive. Only Katharine Hepburn (1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1980s), Paul Newman (1950s, 1960s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s) and Jack Nicholson (1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s) equaled this feat. In contrast, Bette Davis' ten nominations and Spencer Tracy's eight were spread over four decades (1930s through 1960s, inclusive) while Marlon Brando's eight nominations were bunched into three decades (1950s, 1970s, 1980s).
223Generally considered the greatest Macbeth of the 20th century for his second stage portrayal of the role in the 1950s, he had hoped to bring "The Scotish Play" to the big screen in the late 1950s, but the failure of his movie Richard III (1955) to make back its money frustrated his plans. Producer Michael Todd, Elizabeth Taylor's third husband, told Olivier in 1958 that he likely would produce the film with Olivier as Macbeth and Olivier's real-life wife Vivien Leigh as his Lady, but that hope died in the plane crash that claimed Todd's life. Thus, the infamous "Macbeth curse" prevented the greatest actor of the 20th century from realizing his dream. Movie critic Pauline Kael, who considered Olivier the "wittiest actor" in film history, considered it a tragedy and said that it showed that there was something fundamentally wrong with the commercial filmmaking industry, that it could deny such a great talent a chance to make such a potentially significant film. Olivier never directed another Shakespearean film after the "failure" of "Richard III".
224Luchino Visconti wanted to cast him in the title role of the Italian prince in The Leopard (1963), but his producer overruled him. The producer insisted on a box-office star to justify the lavish production's high budget and essentially forced Visconti to accept Burt Lancaster. A decade later, the two Oscar-winning actors competed again for the role of another Italian prince, Mafia chieftain Don Corleone, in The Godfather (1972), ultimately losing out to Marlon Brando, Oliver's only rival for the title of world's greatest actor.
225Lord Olivier perfected an Italian accent in order to play Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972), and was signed to play the role. However, at the last moment, he fell sick and was replaced by Marlon Brando.
226Won three Best Actor Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle: as the eponymous protagonists of Shakespeare's The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944) and Hamlet (1948), and as the mystery writer in Sleuth (1972).
227When he went to Hollywood in the early 1930s, studio executives wanted him to change his name to "Larry Oliver". He said that later on in his highly successful career, he would muse with his friends about what might have become of him, what kind of career he would have had, if he had changed his name to "Larry Oliver", as that name connoted a different type of actor. Actually, there was an American actor with that name who appeared six times on Broadway between 1930 and 1965, most notably in Garson Kanin's "Born Yesterday". The "real" Larry Oliver repeated his Broadway performance as the politician Norval Hedges in the 1950 movie version of the play, (Born Yesterday (1950)), his only film appearance (a senator on Broadway, Larry Oliver's character had been demoted to a Congressman for the film, but he was again bumped up to the Senate in the 1956 "Hallmark Hall of Fame" teleplay).
228Is portrayed by Andrew Clarke in Blonde (2001), by Anthony Higgins in Darlings of the Gods (1989) by Anthony Gordon in Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980), and by Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn (2011).
229The first thespian to receive both a Best Actor Oscar (for Hamlet (1948)) and a Worst Actor Razzie (for Inchon (1981)).
230Was named the #14 greatest actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by the American Film Institute.
231His great-great-grandfather, Daniel Stephen Olivier, was from a French Huguenot family; they fled from France to England around the 17th century, as they were Protestants, who were being persecuted by the majority Catholics.
232Modelled the accent for his character of George Hurstwood, an American living in turn-of-the-last-century Chicago in Carrie (1952), on Spencer Tracy.
233Olivier delivered one of the more eccentric acceptance speeches in 1979, upon receiving an Oscar statuette for Lifetime Achievement. His rundown of thanked Academy bigwigs, colleagues and friends included kudos to "my very noble and approved good masters", a quote from Shakespeare's "Othello", Act I, Scene 3, line 77. (Olivier had received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the role in 1966, losing out to Lee Marvin.) Characterizing the acceptance speech, John J. O'Connor of the 'New York Times' wrote, "Olivier lapsed into a curiously rambling, slightly sticky, extended metaphor about stars and firmaments.".
2341958: Was nominated for a Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "The Entertainer", a role he recreated in an Oscar-nominated performance in the film version of the same name, The Entertainer (1960). This was his only nomination for a Tony, an award he never won.
235Appeared with John Gielgud in Romeo and Juliet (1936) in which he and Gielgud alternated the roles of Romeo and Mercutio. Gielgud got the better reviews in the lead of Romeo, which spurred Olivier on to become a better actor.
236The Society of London Theatre renamed the Society of West End Theatre Awards, which had been launched in 1976, "The Laurence Olivier Awards" in his honor in 1984. The annual awards are considered the most prestigious in the London theater world.
237Turned down the role of Humbert in Lolita (1962). He originally agreed with Stanley Kubrick, his director on Spartacus (1960), to appear in his film of Vladimir Nabokov's controversial classic, but dropped out on the advice of his agent. Ironically, Kubrick shared the same agent.
238Was gradually forced out of his position as head of the National Theatre by the board of directors after the board vetoed a production of Rolf Hochhuth's 1968 play "Soldaten" ("Soldiers"). The controversial play, championed by National Theatre dramaturge Kenneth Tynan, implied that Winston Churchill had arranged the death of General Wladyslaw Sikorski, prime minister of the Polish government-in-exile, and the fire-bombing of civilians during World War II. Olivier, who revered Churchill, backed his dramaturge, but Tynan was sacked and Olivier's position was undermined, thus compromising the independence of the National Theatre. After unsuccessfully canvassing Albert Finney, Olivier tried to interest Richard Burton in taking over the National Theatre after his imminent retirement from the post. Burton declined, seeing the great Olivier forced out of his beloved theater that he had built over two decades and for which he had become the first actor peer.
239In her autobiography "Limelight and After", Claire Bloom claims that her lover Olivier merely went through the motions during their affair in the mid-1950s. She thought Olivier seduced her as that was what a great actor was supposed to do.
240Orson Welles wrote his novel Confidential Report (1955) during an extended stay with Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh. Welles was appearing at Olivier's St. James theater in London at the time in his fabled production of Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), which had been produced by Michael Todd in New York. Todd, who later made the film without Welles participation, had offered to produce a film version of "Macbeth" to be directed by and starring Olivier, but he died in 1958 before the plans could be finalized.
241Lifelong friends with Ralph Richardson, whom he met and befriended in London as a young acting student during the 1920s, he was dismayed that Richardson expected to play Buckingham in his film of Shakespeare's Richard III (1955). Olivier wanted Orson Welles, another friend, to play the role but could not deny his oldest friend. In his autobiography, Olivier says he wishes he had disappointed Richardson and cast Welles instead as he would have brought an extra element to the screen, an intelligence that would have gone well with the plot element of conspiracy.
242In his 1983 autobiography "Confessions of an Actor", Olivier writes that upon meeting Marilyn Monroe preparatory to the commencement of production of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), he was convinced he was going to fall in love with her. During production, Olivier bore the brunt of Marilyn's famous indiscipline and wound up despising her. However, he admits that she was wonderful in the film, the best thing in it, her performance overshadowing his own, and that the final result was worth the aggravation.
243According to producer Robert Evans, he could not obtain insurance for Olivier to appear in Marathon Man (1976). He went ahead with Olivier despite the obstacle. Evans and the rest of the production members, particularly Dustin Hoffman, were quite charmed by the man Hoffman called "Sir". Several years earlier, Evans -- as chief of production at Paramount -- had given the go-ahead to offer Olivier the role of Don Corleone in The Godfather (1972), but Olivier was unable to accept the role due to illness.
244According to Olivier in his autobiography "Confessions of an Actor", when he went to Hollywood in the early 1930s as the "next Ronald Colman", one studio wanted to change his name to "Larry Oliver". He often wondered what his career would have been like if he kept that less-distinguished name, whether his career would have been as sorry as the name.
245His oldest son by Jill Esmond, Tarquin Olivier, says in his 1993 memoir "My Father Laurence Olivier" that he was shocked when meeting his father in California in the early 1980s that he was dissatisfied with his career and felt something of a failure. Olivier belittled his own achievements and held up the career of Cary Grant as the paradigm of greatness. Grant, who had a fortune estimated at $70 million by Look Magazine in its February 23, 1971, issue (an amount equivalent to $300 million in 2003 dollars), was the person who presented Olivier with his career achievement Oscar in 1979. The two were acquaintances, never friends.
246His oldest son Tarquin Olivier was 10 months old when Olivier left his mother, actress Jill Esmond, for Vivien Leigh in 1937. Despite Olivier virtually ignoring him after marrying Joan Plowright in 1961, Tarquin was extremely forgiving in his 1993 memoir "My Father Laurence Olivier". Tarquin contends that the rumors about his father were becoming more outrageous with each new biography and dismissed the stories that Olivier had had affairs with Danny Kaye and Kenneth Tynan as "unforgivable garbage".
247Was chosen to play Antonio in Queen Christina (1933) but was rejected by Greta Garbo after an initial meeting at the studio. The role later went to Garbo's former lover John Gilbert, whose career had hit bottom after the advent of sound. In his autobiography "Confessions of an Actor", Olivier says that he understands why she behaved the way she did, but in Felix Barker's 1953 "The Oliviers - A Biography", it was plain that Olivier and his career were hurt by being rejected by the biggest star in Hollywood. Olivier had had to sail from England to America, and then sail back, all under the harsh glare of the Hollywood publicity machine.
248Wanted desperately to stage "Guys and Dolls" in the early 1970s, as he dreamed of playing Sky Masterson, but after stringing him along for several years, the board of governors of the National Theatre vetoed any chance of a production. After years of being hamstrung by the board, Olivier resigned as artistic director in 1973 without being able to name his successor. The governors appointed Peter Hall, founder of the National Theatre's great rival, the Royal Shakespeare Company, as director to replace Olivier. The move is widely seen as an insult to Olivier, who had given up an incalculable fortune in potential earnings in the commercial theater and in motion pictures to make his dream of a National Theatre a reality. However, he was honored by having the largest auditorium in the under-construction National Theatre building named after him. "Guys and Dolls" was eventually staged by the National Theatre in 1982.
249The Olivier Theatre, the largest theatre in the new National Theatre complex on the south bank of the Thames, opened on 10/4/76 with Albert Finney playing Christopher Marlowe's "Tamburlaine The Great", directed by Peter Hall. The Queen officially opened the National Theatre on October 25. Years later, Michael Caine met his former co-star at the theater named after him, and asked him if he could get in for free. No, he could not, answered Olivier, but he told Caine that he would work on it.
250His acting in Hamlet (1948) is discussed by Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger's novel "The Catcher in the Rye".
251Said once that he always visualized the physical appearance of a character that he was going to play before he did anything else.
252He is considered by many people to be the greatest English-speaking actor of the twentieth century, even more so than Marlon Brando and Spencer Tracy.
253He was voted the 20th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
254Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890- 1945". Pages 837-843. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
255Father of four children: sons Tarquin Olivier and Richard Olivier, and daughters Julie Kate Olivier and Tamsin Olivier.
2562014: His film version of Shakespeare's Hamlet (1948) is still, to date, the only film of a Shakespeare play to win the Oscar for Best Picture, and the only one to actually win an Oscar for acting (Olivier for Best Actor).
257While performing a live production of "Hamlet" he completely blanked during the "to be or not to be" soliloquy. He then sat down and remained there until he remembered the lines.
258Attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.
259Godfather of Victoria Tennant.
260Ex-brother-in-law of race car driver Jack Esmond.
261Ex-son-in-law of actress Eva Moore. She was Jack and Jill Esmond's mother.
2622001: Ranked tenth in the Orange Film Survey of greatest British actors.
263His father, a clergyman, decided Laurence would become an actor.
264In the book "Melting the Stone: A Journey Around My Father" by his son Richard Olivier, Richard describes Laurence as being more interested in his work than in his children; he never looked back fondly on his career and would actually become depressed when he did not have a job.
265Wife #1 Jill Esmond named Vivien Leigh --wife #2--as co-respondent in her 1940 divorce from Olivier on grounds of adultery. Leigh named Joan Plowright --wife #3--as co-respondent in her 1960 divorce from Olivier, also on grounds of adultery.
266Directed two actors to Oscar nominations: Himself (Best Actor, The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)); Best Actor, Hamlet (1948); Best Actor, Richard III (1955)), and Jean Simmons (Best Supporting Actress, Hamlet (1948)). He won an Oscar for his turn in Hamlet, making him and Roberto Benigni the only two actors to have directed themselves in Oscar-winning performances.
267He was seriously considered for the role of Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972) before Marlon Brando was cast.
268Father, with Jill Esmond, of son Tarquin Olivier.
269Knighted in 1947, made life peer in 1970, awarded the Order of Merit in 1981.
27010/97: Ranked #46 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
271Even with his noble titles, he refused to carry on a conversation with anyone who would not address him as "Larry".
2721985: When presenting at the Oscars, he forgot to name the Best Picture nominees. He simply opened the envelope and proclaimed, "Amadeus (1984)".


Net Worth & Salary

TitleSalary
Wild Geese II (1985)$300,000
The Bounty (1984)$100,000
Clash of the Titans (1981)$300,000
Inchon (1981)$1,000,000
The Jazz Singer (1980)$1,000,000
The Boys from Brazil (1978)$725,000
The Betsy (1978)$400,000
A Bridge Too Far (1977)$200,000
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)$75,000 (for 2 days)
Sleuth (1972)$200,000
Lady Caroline Lamb (1972)£20,000 (for 5 days)
The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)$200,000
Khartoum (1966)£250,000
The Moon and Sixpence (1959)$100,000
49th Parallel (1941)£2,000 (for 2 weeks)
Rebecca (1940)$50,000
Wuthering Heights (1939)$20,000
As You Like It (1936)£600 a week
Wild Geese II (1985)$300,000
The Bounty (1984)$100,000
Clash of the Titans (1981)$300,000
Inchon (1981)$1,000,000
The Jazz Singer (1980)$1,000,000
The Boys from Brazil (1978)$725,000
The Betsy (1978)$400,000
A Bridge Too Far (1977)$200,000
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)$75,000 (for 2 days)
Sleuth (1972)$200,000
Lady Caroline Lamb (1972)£20,000 (for 5 days)
The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968)$200,000
Khartoum (1966)£250,000
The Moon and Sixpence (1959)$100,000
49th Parallel (1941)£2,000 (for 2 weeks)
Rebecca (1940)$50,000
Wuthering Heights (1939)$20,000
As You Like It (1936)£600 a week


Trademarks

#Trademark
1Rich smooth voice
2Often directed himself in his films
3Often played noble and fiercely proud leaders and royalty figures
4A handsome man with a magnificent speaking voice
5Roles in Shakespeare adaptations
6Rich smooth voice
7Often directed himself in his films
8Often played noble and fiercely proud leaders and royalty figures
9A handsome man with a magnificent speaking voice
10Roles in Shakespeare adaptations


Quotes

#Quote
1[In 1983] If you're 75, which I am, it's damned hard to find parts. Lear is the only star part for an old man that I know of - I've never heard of a good play about Methusaleh. I played the title role only once before the Old Vic. I was 39. When you're younger, Lear doesn't feel real. When you get to my age, you 'are' Lear in every nerve of your body.
2People ask me why I'm playing in this picture. The answer is simple. Money, dear boy. I'm like a vintage wine. You have to drink me quickly before I turn sour. I'm almost used up now and I can feel the end coming. That's why I'm taking money now. I've got nothing to leave my family but the money I can make from films. Nothing is beneath me if it pays well. I've earned the right to damn well grab whatever I can in the time I've got left.
3[on Marilyn Monroe] Look at that face - she could be five years old.
4[on Marlon Brando] Brando acted with an empathy and an instinctual understanding that not even the greatest technical performers could possibly match.
5[on needing to reshoot their torture scene in Marathon Man (1976) because Method actor Dustin Hoffman had gotten excessively drunk the first time so he'd look really out of it] Oh, why doesn't he just *act*?
6[on Marilyn Monroe] A professional amateur.
7[on Michael Caine] Wonderfully good company, ceaselessly funny and a brilliant actor.
8[on Alec Guinness] He's an actor, that fellow, a superb actor. But over and above that he does his homework. However idiosyncratically I saw Alec playing a part, I would be very, very cautious about criticizing it, because I know that every point about it would be backed by a complete marshaling of all available evidence. He really does his homework.
9[on Charles Laughton] The only actor of genius I've ever met.
10[on actress Ann Harding] The pretty and highly regarded Ann Harding, a woman of great charm, integrity and beauty.
11[on Vivien Leigh] Apart from her looks, which were magical, she possessed beautiful poise; her neck looked almost too fragile to support her head and bore with it a sense of surprise, and something of the pride of the master juggler who can make a brilliant maneuver appear almost accidental. She also had something else: an attraction of the most perturbing nature I had ever encountered.
12[on Vivien Leigh] Parts seem to haunt more actresses than actors. Poor darling Vivien was very much haunted. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) didn't do her any good at all.
13[on Marilyn Monroe] There were two entirely unrelated sides to Marilyn. You would not be far out if you described her as schizoid; the two people that she was could hardly have been more different. She was so adorable, so witty, such incredible fun and more physically attractive than anyone I could have imagined, apart from herself on the screen.
14[on Spencer Tracy] I've learned more about acting from watching Tracy than in any other way.
15[on ex-wife Vivien Leigh] We were like brother and sister, just as she always wanted. But fortunately, occasional incest was allowed.
16[1989] Time I was gone. Time I was dead.
17[upon being awarded his second honorary Academy Award in 1979, an Oscar statuette for Lifetime Achievement, "for the full body of his work, for the unique achievements of his entire career and his lifetime of contribution to the art of film," presented by Cary Grant] Oh, dear friends, am I supposed to speak after that? Cary, my dear old friend for many a year - from the earliest years of either of us working in this country - thank you for that beautiful citation and the trouble you have taken to make it and for all the warm generosities in it. Mr. President and governors of the Academy, committee members, fellows, my very noble and approved good masters, my colleagues, my friends, my fellow students. In the great wealth, the great firmament of your nation's generosities, this particular choice may be found by future generations to be a trifle eccentric, but the mere fact of it - the prodigal, pure, human kindness of it - must be seen as a beautiful star in the firmament which shines upon me at this moment, dazzling me a little, but filling me with warmth and the extraordinary elation, the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of a new tomorrow. From the top of this moment, in the solace, in the kindly emotion that it is changing my soul and my heart at this moment, I thank you for this great gift which lends me such a very splendid part in this, your glorious occasion. Thank you.
18[to 1979 Academy Awards show writer Buz Kohan, after receiving his honorary Oscar] God, I mucked that up. I had no idea what I was saying but I didn't want to stop.
19[When asked by Barry Norman why he had taken on the role of the Mahdi in Khartoum (1966), for which he was so obviously ill-suited] One doesn't do everything for artistic reasons, dear boy.
20[upon seeing Dustin Hoffman's "method" acting technique of not sleeping and making a mess of himself to get into character while shooting Marathon Man (1976)] Dear boy, it's called acting.
21I'm afraid I probably outrage the Method people.
22I like to appear as a chameleon. So all my career I've attempted to disguise myself.
23[May 1958, on playing Macbeth at age 30 and age 48] When you're a young man, Macbeth is a character part. When you're older, it's a straight part.
24My stage successes have provided me with the greatest moments outside myself, my film successes the best moments, professionally, within myself.
25[on whether he harbored any resentment at his forced retirement from the stage after he was fired by Britain's National Theater] I should be soaring away with my head tilted slightly toward the gods, feeding on the caviar of Shakespeare... An actor must act.
26I often think that could we creep behind the actor's eyes, we would find an attic of forgotten toys and a copy of the Domesday Book.
27The actor should be able to create the universe in the palm of his hand.
28We have all, at one time or another, been performers, and many of us still are - politicians, playboys, cardinals and kings.
29Surely we have always acted; it is an instinct inherent in all of us. Some of us are better at it than others, but we all do it.
30[first address in the House of Lords, 1971] I believe that in a great city, or even in a small city or a village, a great theater is the outward and visible sign of an inward and probable culture.
31[first address to the House of Lords, 1971] I believe in the theater; I believe in it as the first glamorizer of thought. It restores dramatic dynamics and their relations to life size.
32The office of drama is to exercise, possibly to exhaust, human emotions. The purpose of comedy is to tickle those emotions into an expression of light relief; of tragedy, to wound them and bring the relief of tears. Disgust and terror are the other points of the compass.
33[January 1970] I don't know what is better than the work that is given to the actor - to teach the human heart the knowledge of itself.
34[to a young actress who complained she was not taken seriously because she was a blonde] But my dear, it was your decision!
35[on Method acting] All this talk about the Method, the Method! WHAT method? I thought each of us had our OWN method!
36I'm England, that's all.
37Acting is a masochistic form of exhibitionism. It is not quite the occupation of an adult.
38[the only acting advice he would give] What is acting but lying and what is good lying but convincing lying?
39[In 1979] You must have - besides intuition and sensitivity - a cutting edge that allows you to reach what you need. Also, you have to know life - bastards included - and it takes a bit of one to know one, don't you think?
40Work is life for me, it is the only point of life - and with it there is almost religious belief that service is everything.
41If I wasn't an actor, I think I'd have gone mad. You have to have extra voltage, some extra temperament to reach certain heights. Art is a little bit larger than life - it's an exhalation of life and I think you probably need a little touch of madness.
42Of all the things I've done in life, directing a motion picture is the most beautiful. It's the most exciting and the nearest than an interpretive craftsman, such as an actor can possibly get to being a creator.
43Without acting, I cannot breathe.
44Acting is illusion, as much illusion as magic is, and not so much a matter of being real.
45[In 1983] If you're 75, which I am, it's damned hard to find parts. Lear is the only star part for an old man that I know of - I've never heard of a good play about Methusaleh. I played the title role only once before the Old Vic. I was 39. When you're younger, Lear doesn't feel real. When you get to my age, you 'are' Lear in every nerve of your body.
46People ask me why I'm playing in this picture. The answer is simple. Money, dear boy. I'm like a vintage wine. You have to drink me quickly before I turn sour. I'm almost used up now and I can feel the end coming. That's why I'm taking money now. I've got nothing to leave my family but the money I can make from films. Nothing is beneath me if it pays well. I've earned the right to damn well grab whatever I can in the time I've got left.
47[on Marilyn Monroe] Look at that face - she could be five years old.
48[on Marlon Brando] Brando acted with an empathy and an instinctual understanding that not even the greatest technical performers could possibly match.
49[on needing to reshoot their torture scene in Marathon Man (1976) because Method actor Dustin Hoffman had gotten excessively drunk the first time so he'd look really out of it] Oh, why doesn't he just *act*?
50[on Marilyn Monroe] A professional amateur.
51[on Michael Caine] Wonderfully good company, ceaselessly funny and a brilliant actor.
52[on Alec Guinness] He's an actor, that fellow, a superb actor. But over and above that he does his homework. However idiosyncratically I saw Alec playing a part, I would be very, very cautious about criticizing it, because I know that every point about it would be backed by a complete marshaling of all available evidence. He really does his homework.
53[on Charles Laughton] The only actor of genius I've ever met.
54[on actress Ann Harding] The pretty and highly regarded Ann Harding, a woman of great charm, integrity and beauty.
55[on Vivien Leigh] Apart from her looks, which were magical, she possessed beautiful poise; her neck looked almost too fragile to support her head and bore with it a sense of surprise, and something of the pride of the master juggler who can make a brilliant maneuver appear almost accidental. She also had something else: an attraction of the most perturbing nature I had ever encountered.
56[on Vivien Leigh] Parts seem to haunt more actresses than actors. Poor darling Vivien was very much haunted. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) didn't do her any good at all.
57[on Marilyn Monroe] There were two entirely unrelated sides to Marilyn. You would not be far out if you described her as schizoid; the two people that she was could hardly have been more different. She was so adorable, so witty, such incredible fun and more physically attractive than anyone I could have imagined, apart from herself on the screen.
58[on Spencer Tracy] I've learned more about acting from watching Tracy than in any other way.
59[on ex-wife Vivien Leigh] We were like brother and sister, just as she always wanted. But fortunately, occasional incest was allowed.
60[1989] Time I was gone. Time I was dead.
61[upon being awarded his second honorary Academy Award in 1979, an Oscar statuette for Lifetime Achievement, "for the full body of his work, for the unique achievements of his entire career and his lifetime of contribution to the art of film," presented by Cary Grant] Oh, dear friends, am I supposed to speak after that? Cary, my dear old friend for many a year - from the earliest years of either of us working in this country - thank you for that beautiful citation and the trouble you have taken to make it and for all the warm generosities in it. Mr. President and governors of the Academy, committee members, fellows, my very noble and approved good masters, my colleagues, my friends, my fellow students. In the great wealth, the great firmament of your nation's generosities, this particular choice may be found by future generations to be a trifle eccentric, but the mere fact of it - the prodigal, pure, human kindness of it - must be seen as a beautiful star in the firmament which shines upon me at this moment, dazzling me a little, but filling me with warmth and the extraordinary elation, the euphoria that happens to so many of us at the first breath of the majestic glow of a new tomorrow. From the top of this moment, in the solace, in the kindly emotion that it is changing my soul and my heart at this moment, I thank you for this great gift which lends me such a very splendid part in this, your glorious occasion. Thank you.
62[to 1979 Academy Awards show writer Buz Kohan, after receiving his honorary Oscar] God, I mucked that up. I had no idea what I was saying but I didn't want to stop.
63[When asked by Barry Norman why he had taken on the role of the Mahdi in Khartoum (1966), for which he was so obviously ill-suited] One doesn't do everything for artistic reasons, dear boy.
64[upon seeing Dustin Hoffman's "method" acting technique of not sleeping and making a mess of himself to get into character while shooting Marathon Man (1976)] Dear boy, it's called acting.
65I'm afraid I probably outrage the Method people.
66I like to appear as a chameleon. So all my career I've attempted to disguise myself.
67[May 1958, on playing Macbeth at age 30 and age 48] When you're a young man, Macbeth is a character part. When you're older, it's a straight part.
68My stage successes have provided me with the greatest moments outside myself, my film successes the best moments, professionally, within myself.
69[on whether he harbored any resentment at his forced retirement from the stage after he was fired by Britain's National Theater] I should be soaring away with my head tilted slightly toward the gods, feeding on the caviar of Shakespeare... An actor must act.
70I often think that could we creep behind the actor's eyes, we would find an attic of forgotten toys and a copy of the Domesday Book.
71The actor should be able to create the universe in the palm of his hand.
72We have all, at one time or another, been performers, and many of us still are - politicians, playboys, cardinals and kings.
73Surely we have always acted; it is an instinct inherent in all of us. Some of us are better at it than others, but we all do it.
74[first address in the House of Lords, 1971] I believe that in a great city, or even in a small city or a village, a great theater is the outward and visible sign of an inward and probable culture.
75[first address to the House of Lords, 1971] I believe in the theater; I believe in it as the first glamorizer of thought. It restores dramatic dynamics and their relations to life size.
76The office of drama is to exercise, possibly to exhaust, human emotions. The purpose of comedy is to tickle those emotions into an expression of light relief; of tragedy, to wound them and bring the relief of tears. Disgust and terror are the other points of the compass.
77[January 1970] I don't know what is better than the work that is given to the actor - to teach the human heart the knowledge of itself.
78[to a young actress who complained she was not taken seriously because she was a blonde] But my dear, it was your decision!
79[on Method acting] All this talk about the Method, the Method! WHAT method? I thought each of us had our OWN method!
80I'm England, that's all.
81Acting is a masochistic form of exhibitionism. It is not quite the occupation of an adult.
82[the only acting advice he would give] What is acting but lying and what is good lying but convincing lying?
83[In 1979] You must have - besides intuition and sensitivity - a cutting edge that allows you to reach what you need. Also, you have to know life - bastards included - and it takes a bit of one to know one, don't you think?
84Work is life for me, it is the only point of life - and with it there is almost religious belief that service is everything.
85If I wasn't an actor, I think I'd have gone mad. You have to have extra voltage, some extra temperament to reach certain heights. Art is a little bit larger than life - it's an exhalation of life and I think you probably need a little touch of madness.
86Of all the things I've done in life, directing a motion picture is the most beautiful. It's the most exciting and the nearest than an interpretive craftsman, such as an actor can possibly get to being a creator.
87Without acting, I cannot breathe.
88Acting is illusion, as much illusion as magic is, and not so much a matter of being real.


Pictures

All Laurence Kerr Olivier pictures »

Won Awards

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1985Award of ExcellenceBanff Television Festival
1985BFI FellowshipBritish Film Institute Awards
1984Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a SpecialKing Lear (1983)
1984ACECableACE AwardsActor in a Dramatic or Theatrical ProgramMr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson (1983)
1983Cecil B. DeMille AwardGolden Globes, USA
1983Gala TributeFilm Society of Lincoln Center
1983Razzie AwardRazzie AwardsWorst ActorInchon (1981)
1982Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a SpecialBrideshead Revisited (1981)
1981Razzie AwardRazzie AwardsWorst Supporting ActorThe Jazz Singer (1980)
1979Honorary AwardAcademy Awards, USA

For the full body of his work, for the unique achievements of his entire career and his lifetime of... More

1978NBR AwardNational Board of Review, USABest ActorThe Boys from Brazil (1978)
1977Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting RoleMarathon Man (1976)
1976Academy FellowshipBAFTA Awards
1975Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Special Program - Drama or ComedyLove Among the Ruins (1975)
1973DavidDavid di Donatello AwardsBest Foreign Actor (Migliore Attore Straniero)Sleuth (1972)
1973NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorSleuth (1972)
1970BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest Supporting ActorOh! What a Lovely War (1969)
1960Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Single Performance by an Actor (Lead or Support)The Moon and Sixpence (1959)
1960Best ActorKarlovy Vary International Film FestivalThe Entertainer (1960)
1960Star on the Walk of FameWalk of FameMotion PictureOn 8 February 1960. At 6319 Hollywood Blvd.
1957DavidDavid di Donatello AwardsBest Foreign Production (Migliore Produzione Straniera)Richard III (1955)
1957DavidDavid di Donatello AwardsBest Foreign Actor (Migliore Attore Straniero)Richard III (1955)
1957JussiJussi AwardsBest Foreign ActorRichard III (1955)
1956BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest British ActorRichard III (1955)
1956Silver Berlin BearBerlin International Film FestivalInternational PrizeRichard III (1955)
1950Silver RibbonItalian National Syndicate of Film JournalistsBest Foreign Director (Regista del Miglior Film Straniero)The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)
1949OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleHamlet (1948)
1949Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Motion Picture ActorHamlet (1948)
1949BodilBodil AwardsBest European Film (Bedste europæiske film)Hamlet (1948)
1949Kinema Junpo AwardKinema Junpo AwardsBest Foreign Language FilmThe Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)
1948NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorHamlet (1948)
1948Grand International AwardVenice Film FestivalHamlet (1948)
1947Honorary AwardAcademy Awards, USAThe Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)
1946NBR AwardNational Board of Review, USABest ActorThe Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)
1946NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorThe Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)
1946International Critics Award - Special MentionVenice Film FestivalFeature FilmsThe Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)

Nominated Awards

Nominated awards

Nominated awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1987Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a SpecialLost Empires (1986)
1983BAFTA TV AwardBAFTA AwardsBest ActorA Voyage Round My Father (1984)
1980Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting RoleA Little Romance (1979)
1979OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleThe Boys from Brazil (1978)
1979Saturn AwardAcademy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USABest ActorThe Boys from Brazil (1978)
1977OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Supporting RoleMarathon Man (1976)
1974Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsBest Lead Actor in a DramaThe Merchant of Venice (1973)
1974BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest ActorSleuth (1972)
1973OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleSleuth (1972)
1973Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Motion Picture Actor - DramaSleuth (1972)
1970Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading RoleDavid Copperfield (1969)
1968Primetime EmmyPrimetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Dramatic ProgramUncle Vanya (1963)
1967NSFC AwardNational Society of Film Critics Awards, USABest ActorOthello (1965)
1966OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleOthello (1965)
1963BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest British ActorTerm of Trial (1962)
1961OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleThe Entertainer (1960)
1961Golden GlobeGolden Globes, USABest Motion Picture Actor - DramaSpartacus (1960)
1961BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest British ActorThe Entertainer (1960)
1958BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest British ActorThe Prince and the Showgirl (1957)
1957OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleRichard III (1955)
1957Silver RibbonItalian National Syndicate of Film JournalistsBest Foreign Film (Miglior Film Straniero)Richard III (1955)
1953BAFTA Film AwardBAFTA AwardsBest British ActorCarrie (1952)
1949OscarAcademy Awards, USABest DirectorHamlet (1948)
1947OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleThe Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)
1941OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleRebecca (1940)
1940OscarAcademy Awards, USABest Actor in a Leading RoleWuthering Heights (1939)

2nd Place Awards

2nd place awards

2nd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1948NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest DirectorHamlet (1948)
1946NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest DirectorThe Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (1944)

3rd Place Awards

3rd place awards

3rd place awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1960NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorThe Entertainer (1960)
1956NYFCC AwardNew York Film Critics Circle AwardsBest ActorRichard III (1955)


Filmography

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Henry V1944King Henry V of England
This Happy Breed1944Narrator (uncredited)
Adventure for Two1943Ivan Kouznetsoff
49th Parallel1941Johnnie - the Trapper
That Hamilton Woman1941Lord Horatio Nelson
Pride and Prejudice1940Mr. Darcy
Rebecca1940'Maxim' de Winter
21 Days Together1940Larry
Wuthering Heights1939Heathcliff
Clouds Over Europe1939Tony McVane
The Divorce of Lady X1938Logan
Fire Over England1937Michael Ingolby
The Conquest of the Air1936Vincent Lunardi
As You Like It1936Orlando
I Stand Condemned1935Capt. Ivan Ignatoff
No Funny Business1933Clive Dering
Perfect Understanding1933Nicholas Randall
Westward Passage1932Nick Allen
Potiphar's Wife1931Straker
The Yellow Ticket1931Julian Rolfe
Friends and Lovers1931Lieutenant Ned Nichols
The Temporary Widow1930Peter Bille
Too Many Crooks1930ShortThe Man
War Requiem1989The Old Soldier
Lost Empires1986TV Mini-SeriesHarry Burrard
Peter the Great1986TV Mini-SeriesKing William III of Orange
Wild Geese II1985Rudolf Hess
The Ebony Tower1984TV MovieHenry Breasley
The Last Days of Pompeii1984TV Mini-SeriesGaius
The Bounty1984Admiral Hood
A Voyage Round My Father1984TV MovieClifford Mortimer
A Talent for Murder1984TV MovieDr. Anthony Wainwright
Wagner1983TV SeriesPfeuffer
Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson1983TV MovieJoe Halpern
King Lear1983TV MovieKing Lear
The Jigsaw Man1983Adm. Sir Gerald Scaith
Brideshead Revisited1981TV Mini-SeriesLord Marchmain
Clash of the Titans1981Zeus
Inchon1981Gen. Douglas MacArthur
The Jazz Singer1980Cantor Rabinovitch
Dracula1979Prof. Abraham Van Helsing
A Little Romance1979Julius
The Boys from Brazil1978Ezra Lieberman
The Betsy1978Number One
Daphne Laureola1978TV MovieSir Joseph
Saturday, Sunday, Monday1978TV MovieAntonio
Come Back, Little Sheba1977TV MovieDoc Delaney
A Bridge Too Far1977Doctor Spaander
Jesus of Nazareth1977TV Mini-SeriesNicodemus
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof1976TV MovieBig Daddy
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution1976Professor James Moriarty
Marathon Man1976Szell
Great Performances1976TV SeriesHarry
Love Among the Ruins1975TV MovieSir Arthur Glanville-Jones
The Rehearsal1974
The Merchant of Venice1973TV MovieShylock
ITV Saturday Night Theatre1973TV SeriesJames Tyrone Sr.
Sleuth1972Andrew Wyke
Lady Caroline Lamb1972Duke of Wellington
Nicholas and Alexandra1971Count Witte
Three Sisters1970Dr. Ivan Chebutikin
David Copperfield1970TV MovieMr. Creakle
Battle of Britain1969Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding
The Dance of Death1969Edgar
Oh! What a Lovely War1969Field-Marshal Sir John French
Male of the Species1969TV MovieNarrator
The Shoes of the Fisherman1968/IPremier Piotr Ilyich Kamenev (as Sir Laurence Olivier)
Romeo and Juliet1968Narrator Lord Montague Complementary Role (voice, uncredited)
Uncle Vanya1967TV MovieDr. Mihail Lwowitch Astrow
NET Playhouse1967TV SeriesAstrov
Khartoum1966The Mahdi
Othello1965Othello
Bunny Lake Is Missing1965Superintendent Newhouse
Uncle Vanya1963Dr. Astrov
Term of Trial1962Graham Weir
The Power and the Glory1961TV MoviePriest
Spartacus1960Crassus
The Entertainer1960Archie Rice (as Lawrence Olivier)
The Moon and Sixpence1959TV MovieCharles Strickland
The Devil's Disciple1959Gen. Burgoyne
ITV Play of the Week1958TV SeriesJohn Gabriel Borkman
The Prince and the Showgirl1957The Regent
Film Fanfare1956TV SeriesHimelf
Richard III1955Richard III
The Beggar's Opera1953Captain MacHeath
Carrie1952George Hurstwood
The Magic Box1951Police Constable 94-B
Hamlet1948Hamlet - Prince of Denmark

Producer

Producer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Daphne Laureola1978TV Movie executive producer
Come Back, Little Sheba1977TV Movie creative producer
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof1976TV Movie producer
Great Performances1976TV Series producer - 1 episode
NET Playhouse1967TV Series producer - 1 episode
The Prince and the Showgirl1957producer
Richard III1955producer
The Beggar's Opera1953producer
Henry V1944producer

Director

Director

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Hindle Wakes1976TV Movie
Three Sisters1970
Uncle Vanya1967TV Movie
The Prince and the Showgirl1957
Richard III1955
Hamlet1948
Henry V1944

Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Clash of the Titans1981"The Constellations - End Title", uncredited
The Entertainer1960performer: "Why Should I Care?", "Hide Your Face, Mum", "Thank God I'm Normal", "I Don't Care Where They Bury My Body" - uncredited
The Beggar's Opera1953performer: "At The Tree I Shall Suffer" Uncredited, "How Happy Could I Be With Either" uncredited, "The Charge Is Prepared" uncredited
49th Parallel1941performer: "Alouette" - uncredited
Fire Over England1937"The Spanish Lady's Love" ncredited
Westward Passage1932performer: "The Wedding March", "What'll I Do?" - uncredited

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Uncle Vanya1963stage director
Theatre Night1957TV Series by arrangement with - 1 episode
Richard III1955presenter
Hamlet1948presenter / voice: Ghost of Hamlet's Father - uncredited

Writer

Writer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Richard III1955uncredited
Hamlet1948uncredited
Henry V1944uncredited
Round the Film Studios1937TV Series narrative script - 1 episode

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Marilyn Monroe: Beyond the Legend1987DocumentaryThe Regent
American Masters1986TV Series documentaryHimself
The 57th Annual Academy Awards1985TV Special documentaryHimself - Presenter: Best Picture
Night of 100 Stars II1985TV MovieHimself
The Great Hamlets1983TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
The 37th Annual Tony Awards1983TV SpecialHimself
The 40th Annual Golden Globe Awards1983TV SpecialHimself - Winner: Cecil B. DeMille Award
Great Performances1983TV SeriesHimself
Hour Magazine1982TV SeriesHimself
Natalie - A Tribute to a Very Special Lady1982TV Movie documentaryHimself
A New Germany, 1933-19391980TV Movie documentaryNarrator
Today1980TV SeriesHimself - Guest
The Dick Cavett Show1980TV SeriesHimself - Actor
The 37th Annual Golden Globe Awards1980TV SpecialHimself
The Mike Douglas Show1979TV SeriesHimself - Actor
The 51st Annual Academy Awards1979TV Special documentaryHimself - Honorary Award Recipient & Nominee: Best Actor in a Leading Role
The Magic of Hollywood... Is the Magic of People1976Documentary shortHimself
The Gentleman Tramp1976DocumentaryNarrator
Arena1975-1976TV Series documentaryHimself
The 1974 Annual Entertainment Hall of Fame Awards1974TV SpecialHimself - Honoree
The World at War1973-1974TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself - Narrator
The Morecambe & Wise Show1973TV SeriesHimself
Film Night1973TV SeriesHimself
The Films of Robert Bolt1972Documentary shortHimself
The 26th Annual Tony Awards1972TV SpecialHimself
Tree of Life1971Documentary shortNarrator
Cinema1970TV Series documentaryHimself
Frost on Sunday1970TV SeriesHimself - Best Supporting Actor Winner
The American National Theater of Arts Academy Honors Laurence Olivier1970TV MovieHimself - Honoree
The 23rd Annual Tony Awards1969TV SpecialHimself - Accepting Honorary Award for National Theatre Company for Great Britain
The Battle for The Battle of Britain1969TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Shoes of the Fisherman1968/IIDocumentary shortHimself (uncredited)
ABC Stage 671967TV SeriesHimself
Great Acting: Laurence Olivier1966TV Movie documentaryHimself (interviewee)
Farewell to the Vic1963TV Movie documentaryHimself
The 35th Annual Academy Awards1963TV SpecialHimself (pre-recorded)
The Concrete Vision1962TV MovieHimself
The 31st Annual Academy Awards1959TV SpecialHimself - Co-Host
The 12th Annual Tony Awards1958TV SpecialHimself - Presenter
Korda Interviews1956TV Movie documentaryInterviewee
A Queen Is Crowned1953DocumentaryNarrator (voice)
The Ed Sullivan Show1952TV SeriesHimself
The Volunteer1944ShortHimself - impersonating a fish outside restaurant window
Malta G.C.1942Short documentaryNarrator (voice, as Lieut. Laurence Olivier)
Words for Battle1941Documentary shortNarrator (voice)
Cavalcade of the Academy Awards1940Documentary shortHimself
Round the Film Studios1937TV SeriesHimself - Actor

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Charmed Lives: A Family RomanceDocumentary pre-productionHimself
Arena2013-2016TV Series documentaryHimself / Himself - Director, National Theatre, 1963-1973
Welcome to the Basement2014-2016TV SeriesHimself / Olivier / Lord Montague / ...
The Brontes at the BBC2016TV Movie documentaryHeathcliff
Knights of Classic Drama at the BBC2015TV Mini-Series documentaryHimself
Trumbo2015Crassus (uncredited)
Timeshift2015TV Series documentaryHimself
Talking Pictures2014TV Series documentaryHimself
Glad All Over: The Dave Clark Five and Beyond2014TV Movie documentaryHimself
And the Oscar Goes To...2014TV Movie documentaryHimself
For No Good Reason2012DocumentaryHimself
Love, Marilyn2012DocumentaryHimself
Shakespeare Uncovered2012TV Mini-Series documentaryHamlet Henry V
The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II2012TV Movie documentaryHimself - Film Commentator (as Sir Laurence Olivier)
Frost on Interviews2012TV Movie documentaryHimself (as Lord Olivier)
My Week with Marilyn: The Untold Story of an American Icon2011Video documentary shortHimself (uncredited)
Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff2010DocumentaryHimself
Casper och den förbjudna filmen2009TV Movie documentaryHimself
A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful World of Thrillers2009TV Movie documentary
To Oz! The Making of a Classic2009Video documentary shortHimself
Truly, Madly, Cheaply!: British B Movies2008TV Movie documentaryKing Henry V of England (uncredited)
Sunday AM2008TV SeriesHimself
Spisok korabley2008DocumentaryLord Nelson
Never Apologize2007DocumentaryHimself
Brando2007TV Movie documentaryHimself
60 Minutes2006TV Series documentaryHimself - Actor
John Osborne and the Gift of Friendship2006VideoHimself
The World's Greatest Actor2006TV Movie documentaryHimself (as Sir Laurence Olivier)
Pride and Prejudice Revisited2005TV Movie documentaryMr. Darcy (uncredited)
Cinema mil2005TV SeriesDr. Christian Szell
Brave New World2005Video documentaryDr. Totenkopf
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow2004Dr. Totenkopf (as Sir Laurence Olivier)
The South Bank Show2004TV Series documentaryOthello
The Prince, the Showgirl and Me2004TV Movie documentary
The Revamping of Dracula2004Video short documentary
The Kid Stays in the Picture2002DocumentaryHimself (uncredited)
Omnibus1983-2001TV Series documentaryHimself
American Masters1998-2001TV Series documentaryHimself
Larry and Vivien: The Oliviers in Love2001TV Movie documentary
Sir John Mills' Moving Memories2000Video documentaryHimself
William Shakespeare2000DocumentaryHamlet Henry V
Heroes of Comedy2000TV Series documentary
Biography1995-2000TV Series documentaryHimself / Hamlet
The Filth and the Fury2000DocumentaryHimself
Aleph, lectures contades2000TV Series documentary
Shakespeare's Women & Claire Bloom1999TV Movie documentaryRichard III
Shylock1999DocumentaryShylock
Classified X1998TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Harryhausen Chronicles1998TV Movie documentaryZeus (uncredited)
The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender1997DocumentaryHimself
Intimate Portrait1996TV Series documentaryHimself
One on One: Classic Television Interviews1993TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Carol Burnett Show: A Reunion1993TV Movie documentaryHimself (as Sir Lawrence Olivier)
Preminger: Anatomy of a Filmmaker1991Documentaryactor 'Bunny Lake Is Missing' (uncredited)
60 Minutes: The Entertainers1991TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Tales of Helpmann1990DocumentaryHimself
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic1990TV Movie documentaryHimself
Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond1990TV Movie documentaryHimself
Darlings of the Gods1989TV MovieHimself
The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind1988TV Movie documentaryHimself
The Golden Gong1985TV Movie documentary
Hollywood Out-takes and Rare Footage1983DocumentaryHimself (uncredited)
Clapper Board1981TV Series
Hamlet Revisited: Approaches to Hamlet1970TV Movie documentaryHamlet
Hollywood: The Selznick Years1969TV Movie documentaryActor 'Rebecca' (uncredited)
ABC Stage 671966TV SeriesHimself
Hinter der Leinwand1966TV Series documentaryOthello
The Legend of Marilyn Monroe1966DocumentaryHimself (uncredited)
The Ed Sullivan Show1966TV SeriesOthello
Alan Melville Takes You from A-Z1959TV SeriesExcerpt from Henry V
I Know What I Like1958TV SeriesExcerpt from the film Hamlet / Excerpt from the film Henry V
Film Fanfare1956TV SeriesHimself
Hollywood: Style Center of the World1940Documentary shortHimself

Is Laurence Olivier's Net Worth Deserved?