I attended a fabulous Interview Session with Anne Edwards last weekend in Marietta, Georgia. For those of you that don’t know, she wrote a best-selling biography on Vivien Leigh in 1977. I’ve outlined the highlights from the interview below. Big thanks to Dr. Chris Sullivan for asking so many fabulous questions. But there was one question I wanted to know the answer to and it was not asked. So the next day at an autograph signing session I asked Ms. Edwards “Did you see any of Vivien in Suzanne?” Edwards replied ‘no, definitely not physically.’ She looked more like her father, but yet there was something. There was something about Suzanne’s smile, the upward turn of her mouth that was all Vivien.
- Edwards said that Vivien had a “royal eye.” She described it as the way Vivien looked at you. Vivien isolated you when you were in a conversation with her.
- Edwards met Vivien and concluded that there was “a mystery there.” Someone needed to answer it, and Edwards decided it should be her. Her publisher, on the other hand, disagreed and wanted Edwards to write about Joan Crawford. Edwards prevailed.
- Vivien had a “raunchy sense of humor.”
- “She was a wonderful dancer.”
- “Her eyes were most expressive.”
- “Vivien was very intelligent.” Edwards said Vivien was also very political and toward the left.
- Vivien told Edwards “You can be naughty too Anne.”
- “She’s a very resilient woman. She was a very brave woman.”
- One of the first things she did was approach Dinah Sheridan who was married to Jack Merivale. Jack, as you know, was romantic linked to Vivien Leigh during the last years of her life. So Edwards was invited over to their home and she asked Dinah if Jack wanted to talk about Vivien. Jack was ill and on dialysis at this time. As Edwards tells the story, Jack came downstairs and went to a desk in the lanai. He opened a drawer, took out a stack of letters, and “threw them at her.” He then left the room. Dinah asked if Edwards wanted to go for a drive and Edwards agreed. On this drive, Dinah pulled the car over on the shoulder of the road and broke down in tears. She turned to Anne Edwards and said “thank you. You have just taken the ghost out of my house.”
- After the biography was published, Dinah wrote Edwards, “Jack is not able to open the book.”
- Jack Merivale felt Larry and Vivien were destructive.
- Jack “took very good care of her” and had a very “great feeling” for Vivien.
- Edwards believes Suzanne was not resentful of Vivien because she had a very loving father. “Last I spoke to her, she is a very happy lady.”
- Larry was worried and concerned Edwards would reveal things about his private life in the biography. He wrote Edwards pleading her not to. Later in the interview, Edwards accidentally revealed one of those “things.” She asked us not to repeat it, so I won’t! But it definitely raised my eyebrow. Anyway, after the book was published, Edwards received a letter from Larry saying “Thank you dear Anne, thank you.”
- Edwards spoke about Laurence Olivier during the interview. It’s her belief that Larry “belittled” Vivien in the theatre, “I don’t think they worked well together in the theatre.” But Vivien “adored him.”