Laurence Olivier. A Biography

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9780002158572: Laurence Olivier. A Biography

Laurence Olivier was the most famous actor of his century and one of the greatest of all time. His looks made him a matinee idol; his talent made him world-renowned as an actor, director, and producer. From his stage roles as Hamlet and Archie Rice to his screen roles as Heathcliff and Henry V, his range was unparalleled. But beneath the glamorous image, Olivier was often lonely, confused, and plagued by self-doubts. In this revealing account, Spoto tells for the first time the truth about Olivier's three marriages: to the diffident lesbian actress Jill Esmond, to the haunted and doomed Vivien Leigh, and to the young Joan Plowright. Olivier also reveals his relationships with Noel Coward and Danny Kaye, who loved him. Amid these personal dramas, Laurence Olivier's life encompasses the history of the theater in our time. Based on formidable international research, this is a rich, definitive biography.

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About the Author:

Donald Spoto is the author of more than twenty books, including bestselling biographies of Alfred Hitchcock, Tennessee Williams, Laurence Olivier, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman, and Audrey Hepburn. He lives with his husband, Danish artist and school administrator Ole Flemming Larsen, near Copenhagen, Denmark.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Despite having conducted dozens of interviews with those who knew Olivier, Spoto (author of biographies of Hitchcock, Tennessee Williams, and others) offers little important new material--and few fresh insights--in this long, uninspired biography. Aside from lots of sexual tattle, much of it unsupported by sources, and an unconvincing minority opinion on Vivien Leigh's mental troubles, most everything here has been covered before (and, often, better) elsewhere. Like Anthony Holden (Laurence Olivier, 1988), Spoto takes a largely unfriendly view of Sir Larry--seen throughout as primarily ambitious, envious, ungrateful (to Gielgud especially), and ``emotionally inaccessible.'' Also like Holden, Spoto emphasizes Olivier's guilt-ridden nature; unlike Holden, though, Spoto links it to a struggle with bisexuality, supposedly evidenced by a ten- year affair with Danny Kaye (cf. Michael Korda's recent roman ... clef) and quasi-sexual attachments to Noel Coward, Kenneth Tynan, and others. As for women, there were brief encounters (Greer Garson, Sarah Miles, Claire Bloom, etc.) and three unhappy marriages; in Spoto's iffy version, Joan Plowright is an uncaring opportunist, Vivien Leigh a self-indulgent sensualist (rather than a manic-depressive). And his interpretation of Olivier's amazing career and art is only slightly more persuasive: the stage and film work, the rise and fall at the National Theatre, all receive conscientious attention--but Spoto's attempts at analyzing the Olivier genius largely slide into psychobabble and platitude: ``This awareness of inadequacy was suffused by a mysterious gift, enabling him to pass the single beam of his own humanity through the prism of a role--and the emerging, manifold ray reached the countless different lives of his spectators.'' Sure to be read for the gossip, and worth skimming for curious bits of interview material, but--with its flat delivery and spotty documentation--an only so-so addition to the crowded Olivier reference room. (More than 75 halftones--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Spoto, Donald
Published by HarperCollins 1991-01-01, London (1991)
ISBN 10: 0002158574 ISBN 13: 9780002158572
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Book Description HarperCollins 1991-01-01, London, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. First Edition. 0002158574 We guarantee all of our items - customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Bookseller Inventory # TM-0002158574

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