Vivien-Leigh.com Blog

July29th

32 Comments

Vivien is brought onboard a plane by stretcher. Her face is covered to hide her identity from the press (but they all knew who it was)

Vivien is brought onboard a plane by stretcher following her breakdown during the filming of Elephant Walk. Her face is covered to hide her identity from the press (but they all knew who it was).

The article below is from the Mental Health Abuse.org, a website that reports on psychiatric misdiagnosis and abuse. Thanks to John-Michael for bringing it to my attention. I’m posting it here as a conversation starter. I believe that many of Vivien’s choices led to her deteriorated health. She smoked, drank, and partied too hard. She put her career in front of her health, working long hours and needing only a little rest and sleep. She disobeyed the doctor’s orders and sometimes did not seek treatment at all. If she had known that her behavior would ultimately cause her death, would she have continued?  I’m not familiar with Isoniazid, but with all medicines there is some risk. And I firmly believe that any medicine she was given, it was given with the best intentions and in hopes of curing/treating her. Thoughts?

Of the stars that fell victim to psychiatric misdiagnosis and violent treatment, perhaps none is better known all over the world than Vivien Leigh. The star of “Gone with the Wind” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” she received best actress Oscars for both films. Ironically, Leigh’s life was a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.

Her troubles began in 1945. While performing on stage in “The Skin of Our Teeth, ” Leigh experienced attacks of hysteria, alternated with bouts of exhaustion and exhilaration. Diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB), she continued performing until closing night. After six weeks of treatment in a hospital the TB showed signs of abating and she recuperated at home over the following year.

Bouts of hysteria, however, continued, exacerbated because she mixed alcohol with her TB medication. Isoniazid, one of the drugs prescribed at the time for TB, had side effects that included mental confusion and toxic psychosis.

In the early 1950s, Leigh began seeing a psychiatrist. Typically, psychiatrists do not check for drug-induced mental behavior. While filming “Elephant Walk” in Ceylon, Leigh began having hallucinations, making it impossible to film. Desperately concerned, her husband, renowned classical actor Sir Lawrence Olivier, capitulated in light of psychiatric advice. She was flown to her native England, where she was admitted to a psychiatric facility.

Here, she was brutally packed in ice as part of her “treatment” and subjected to repeated electroshocks. It was the first of many terrors, and one that would affect her permanently. One time she even suffered burn marks to her head from the electric shock. Olivier was devastated by the change in his wife’s personality following the shocks: “I can only describe them by saying that she was not, now that she had been given the treatment, the same girl that I had fallen in love with. … She was now more of a stranger to me than I could ever have imagined possible. Something had happened to her, very hard to describe, but unquestionably evident.” Then ECT was temporarily abandoned and replaced by powerful psychotropic drugs—especially dangerous as they were combined with her TB medication.

In May 1967, Leigh’s medical doctor informed her that the TB had spread to both lungs and her condition was critical. Her strength destroyed by years of electroshocks and psychiatric drugs, Leigh was unable to fight off the disease. She succumbed to it less than two months later. Psychiatry’s brutal treatments progressively denied Leigh her sanity, her marriage, her career and ultimately her life.

32 Comments

  • Comment by Ali — July 29, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

    I find this very interesting actually. I’m going to go ahead and say that I think if she knew the lack of treatment would cause her death, she would not have changed her behavior. The thing is Vivien was a person with this ginormous passion for life, and seeking treatment and staying in bed and postponing work, declining plays, would just not have gone well for Vivien. The times where she was told to stay in bed, she was miserable. She reminds me a bit of Edith Piaf in that way. So troubled mentally and physically, but without their craft, they had nothing. Edith Piaf said that without singing, there was no life. I think Vivien was the same way but with acting. She used to say that she wanted to die young too, so that she would always be beautiful. I think she did have a very full life, however short, and that she would have been more miserable sustaining a life of treatments. I hope some of that made sense. I’m curious to hear other thoughts.

  • Comment by kathiedoggroomer — July 30, 2009 @ 12:06 am

    So sad ! Think how different things might have been for dear Vivian. We are fortunate to have had her and her talents in our lives.

  • Comment by Kendra — July 30, 2009 @ 4:37 am

    In my opinion, I get what they’re saying, but I do think Vivien was mentally ill, not just physically ill, and I don’t think she was necessarily misdaignosed, just misunderstood.

    “Her troubles began in 1945. While performing on stage in “The Skin of Our Teeth, ” Leigh experienced attacks of hysteria, alternated with bouts of exhaustion and exhilaration.”

    Her troubles began long before 1945. Many people she attended school with said later that she was high strung even as a kid. Her first agent John Gliddon recalled an incident with her on the phone where she flipped out over a pair of shoes–he said he didn’t really recognize her behavior as her, and she called back later apologizing, saying sometimes things like that happened and she didn’t know why (I think this was in the Alexander Walker book but I can’t remember). In 1939 while making GWTW she overdosed on sleeping pills and her agent Sunny had to call Larry Olivier in NY at like 5 am. There is a letter that he wrote to Vivien at the time which can be found in the Terry Coleman bio of Olivier. here’s part of it:

    “I do adore you Vivien my daring little girl. O but I ought to be sooooo cross with you. Urrrgh Urrrgh! How dare you take four pills like that you hysterical little ninny (and I know perfectly well you knew people would get alarmed and ring me up and put the fear of God into your poor old larry at five o’clock in the morning)….Oh my Vivling. What did your poor three friends think, hey? Poor Sunny was demented. I’m afraid you lead your loving ones one hell of a dance and that’s terribly naughty…don’t give way in front of the common herd like this.”

    And in 1937 when they were doing Hamlet together at Elsinore, Larry said Vivien flew off her chain at him all of a sudden one minute, and then a bit later calmed down. But in 1944 after she had a miscarriage, that’s when Larry said it became more of a cyclical thing. She may have contracted TB in Africa in 1943 but she was still displaying the occasional symptoms of mood disorder way before that. Sometimes people can be walking a fine line between sanity and psychosis and a particular “traumatic” incident–in this case probably her miscarriage, as people seem to think–can push them over the edge. There are also several factors that can influence the emergence of a serious mental illness like bipolar, including environment (it probably didn’t help her any that she was basically dropped off at a convent when she was 6 and didn’t see her parents for a while among other things), and drug/alcohol use (which is a big risk with people suffering mental illnesses).

    It really sounds to me that her tuberculosis and bipolar conflicted a lot (in terms of treatment and just things going on with her mind and body at the same time) and made for a really bad situation for her.

    “Typically, psychiatrists do not check for drug-induced mental behavior.”

    I’m pretty sure they do. My brother was. Even clinical psychologists have to ask about a patient’s use of street drugs and alcohol at the beginning of therapy (at least for depression and/or anxiety, that was my personal experience) in order to rule out that possibility because, for example, even bad marijuana can cause symptoms really similar to serious mental illnesses and can trigger anxiety and depression, and hallucinations.

    Sadly, in the 1950s when Vivien was being seriously treated as a manic depressive rather than just someone with TB, treatment was crude and serious mental illness were not very well understood, so they used electroshock and the icy blanket method and everything for a variety of mental problems. It wasn’t really until Ken Kesey published One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1962 that light was really shed on the crude treatment of patients in mental facilities.

    Gene Tierney suffered the same sort of treatments that Vivien did (EST, the icy blankets–she almost had a heart attack) and she DIDN’T have TB, but she had the same symptoms as Vivien, which she said started after post partum depression from her daughter Daria being born mentally retarded due to Gene contracting measles during WWII. She even saw the same psychiatrist as Vivien, and he didn’t help her at all (it seems he didn’t help Vivien much, either).

    Sorry, i went off on a tangent. Things have come a long way in the mental health field in the past 50 years in terms of diagnosis, treatment, and awareness. My brother is currently in hospital being treated for schizophrenia (extremely similar symptoms to bipolar disorder), and it’s going to take a LOT of education on his part and mine and my parents’ to make sure he doesn’t relapse. I don’t think such thorough education and support was readily available in Vivien’s day. Certainly civilized treatment wasn’t available.

  • Comment by Ali — July 30, 2009 @ 5:54 am

    Well said Kendra!!!

  • Comment by Kendra — July 30, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

    thanks, sorry it was so long, lol :P

    I guess what I was aiming at is that today, when we look back on stories of people like Vivien and others in her situation we think “How terrible that she had to go through that.” and it was terrible, and it’s still hard for people today, but perhaps if vivien had lived today instead of back then, things would have been a little easier for her (although not going to therapy or obeying doctors’ orders didn’t/wouldn’t help at all). i’m just glad she didn’t pull a sylvia plath and stick her head in an oven or something :S good for her for sticking with it for as long as she did. and lucky for her that she had jack in the end who could always be there to watch her.

  • Comment by Kendra — July 30, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

    oh yah, and i was going to say that as far as mental health awareness goes, back in Vivien’s day it seems doctors could tell people like Larry or Jack what to look for in terms of signs of a coming manic episode and whatnot, but obviously they didn’t have very good advice on how to deal with living with someone suffering from a mental illness. Larry probably would have benefited from some therapy himself during his marriage to Vivien. Sadly, resources seemed pretty limited.

  • Comment by Leigh — July 30, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

    Perhaps it is best to let Vivien speak on this matter… as only she could say it best: “”My birth sign is Scorpio and they eat themselves up and burn themselves out. I swing between happiness and misery. I am part prude and part nonconformist. I say what I think and I don’t pretend and I am prepared to accept the consequences of my actions.”

  • Comment by Leigh — July 30, 2009 @ 7:18 pm

    PS: Sorry to hear about your brother, Kendra. I hope everything will be ok.

  • Comment by Kendra — July 30, 2009 @ 8:48 pm

    Thanks, me too. It just sort of happened really fast, but he’s coming home soon so hopefully he won’t have any problems with it in the future.

  • Comment by Jonas — July 30, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

    I want to say that I really like these blogs because everyone who posts has something valuable to contribute, and while there are varying points of view, they are all insightful.
    Kendra, your post was NOT overly long. It was passionate yet right on. But also what John-Michael and Dwayne wrote on the Malden post were very good. Dwayne wins the ciphering prize about the Malden scribble.

    Sometimes there are websites on controversial and emotional issues, such as the treatment of the mentally ill. I recall reading that commentary on VL being misdiagnosed and Isoniazid causing psychiatric side effects, and that was at least 15 years ago when I first read it. Quite honestly, I think the person who made that claim has an agenda that may not be based on fact. Poor Vivien exhibited signs of bipolar illness long before she was diagnosed with TB…and I am unaware of any documentation that she ever took Isoniazid. Maybe she did, but Isoniazid was not released as a treatment for TB until 1952, and I think Vivien exhibited signs prior to then. Isoniazid was used in earlier times for other reasons, and psychiatric side effects from it, while have been alleged, are really very rare. If you do a google on it and look at reputable websites, like Mayo Clinic, you will read this. Personally, I think some other websites may not be objective and have their own agenda, and were written in a time when there was shame associated with mental illness. I hope that all of us, in this age, can accept that Vivien had an illness she had no control over, the same as if she had diabetes or cancer, and there is no reason to assign blame or shame. She had a disease for which there was no truly effective treatment at the time she had it, but she continued on being a total professional and did not pity herself.
    Personally, I think she hated going to doctors, probably because they told her not to smoke or drink and stay home in bed, and she could not abide that advice….and alas she “burned herself out” but at least she left on her own terms.

  • Comment by Selina — September 16, 2009 @ 9:00 am

    Jonas you a right there that the article has a bias and I would agree with Leigh’s assessment that Vivien herself knew better than anyone what her character was like and could speak for herself. I think it is dangerous to label her as a ‘mentally ill’ person because she was NOT a bipolar, like I am not a bipolar/manic depressive I just am alternatley cursed and blessed with differing energy states from most people that I have to learn to live with.

    I know that some websites present this sort of information that have an agenda ie. the Scientologists are totally against psychiatry. Vivien herself wasn’t too enamoured of it either. But on the other hand it is true, treatment was cruel and barbaric. Vivien all her life feared being put away in an instiution. Which is what they did in those days, shut you away forever, and you’d have no human rights and get treated like an animal.

    This stuff still goes on today..treatment may be less cruel but there are doctors who force patients to take dangerous psychoactive drugs against their will, even injections etc which they say are for their own good. High doses can be fatal and toxic. Other pills can be addictive. Thank God Vivien never got addicted to those drugs, like uppers and downers, only smoking and drinking. I believe it was the smoking exacerbating her TB that really killed her in the end!

  • Comment by Kellie Stonebrok — September 27, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

    I think it’s also possible that her love for Lawrence contributed to her mental instability. It can’t be easy for anyone to love someone enough to marry them and then later find out that they’re gay. Also, I know that Vivien had several miscarriages during her lifetime and who knows how much that had to do with her behavior. The hormonal changes alone could easily drive a woman crazy, not even mentioning the extreme grief that comes from losing a child. And, what can I say. Vivien was in theater, and theater people tend to be a little unstable. I know that that is a broad generalization, but I feel like I have a right to say it because I do theater for a living myself. We’re all nuts.

  • Comment by Kendra — October 7, 2009 @ 6:25 am

    “It can’t be easy for anyone to love someone enough to marry them and then later find out that they’re gay.”

    I’m just curious on what that comment is based on.

    Bisexual, maybe (who in Hollywood wasn’t/isn’t, for real?), but Larry definitely preferred women. Many biographers of both parties seem to suggest that Vivien’s troubles, and Laurence’s inability to understand and cope with them, drove him to seek solace in his work and distance himself from Vivien. I’m sure it was frustrating for both of them to deal with.

    Just saying :)

  • Comment by Ali — October 7, 2009 @ 6:36 am

    Yeah, I was thrown for a little bit of a loop by that gay comment. well said kendra.

  • Comment by jonas — October 7, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

    This illustrates to me why I love this website. It is because Leigh Mills simply posts a plethora of pictures, articles, etc about Vivien Leigh, without editorial comments nor an agenda. Bravo to you Leigh! That is why I send you any clippings or photos I have. You are acting as a responsible historian and documenting VL memorabilia without critical comment. That is what a true collector should be doing. Leave critical comment to “the scholars” (whomever they may be!).

    Personally, I do not care if Laurence Olivier was “gay” or sought out the comfort of strangers, or was bisexual or whatever. I do feel badly knowing the actress I admire suffered much personal pain over a demon she had no control over, and yet she soldiered on. That is truly the tribute to her. She would apologize to her fellow actors over things she had no recollection of doing or having any control over. That is so sad.

    So Olivier could not deal with it anymore. I think that speaks more of his shortcomings than Vivien’s inner-core strength to keep going on, despite her illnesses, whether it was mental illness or TB.
    Bravo, Vivling!

  • Comment by Kendra — October 7, 2009 @ 11:05 pm

    I didn’t ever know Larry, but I know that especially as of late there has been a lot of attention directed toward the debate of his sexual preference. It’s pretty lame, imo, because it seems to be the sole focus of discussion, rather than all of the amazing things he did for the acting world and whatnot. A couple years ago, author Anthony Holden was going on about re-releasing his (not very good) Larry biography to show just how “gay” Larry really was, and said that he didn’t publish such info when Larry was alive out of “respect” for him. Right.

    Whether he was gay, straight, bi, polka dots, whatever, in as far as his and Vivien’s relationship, I don’t think who he slept with had that much to do with Vivien’s mental deterioration.

    In another sense it kind of bothers me when people just throw stuff like that out there because I know everyone has their personal opinions, and that’s totally cool, but if people turned the tables and said how it was Vivien who ruined Larry’s life instead of vice versa, I think a lot of fans would go ape over it.

    I adore both of them (and I think they both had their fair share of flaws), I think they had something special for a really long time, and in the end I think the whole situation was just really unfortunate. That’s just my opinion. I love debating :D

  • Comment by Carole Heath — October 28, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

    I am a great admirer of both Laurence Olivier the great man of the theatre and films and Vivien Leigh the great beauty. Olivier introduced me to Shakespeare through his film of Richard 111 when I was at school in the 1960′s. Vivien Leigh I think as this article and some people have said in their comments was most likely Bi-polar which was called manic depression prior to that. I have read many books on both Olivier and Leigh and her illness was mentioned at length and the authors who had wrote the books all decided that she was unfortunately ill in this way. But The treatment in her day was very crude and the drugs which helps people today with this problem was not around then. I also think that her condition was misunderstood as well, some people thought she was behaving badly at times and wanted her own way with Olivier and others she was in contact with. Her illness was most likely made worse as I think she drunk quite heavy which would not help her problem. Although she had this terrible illness which would come and go she never let her fans down she tried to carry on as best she could. She was a much better actress than she was ever given credit for I think, her performance as Blanche in Streetcar named Desire had great pathos and she really made the part her own. The sad thing really is the break up of the marriage to Laurence Olivier but I think they still held a torch for one another to the end of their lives, when Olivier ever spoke of Vivien Leigh you could hear the emotion in his voice. They were both handsome looking people and to the general public the theatre royals the golden couple, the darlings of the gods, but sadly the public persona was completely different to the private one.

  • Comment by selina — October 29, 2009 @ 1:58 am

    I have thought about the ‘gay’ question. It came as a complete shock and surprise to me that anyone would call Larry ‘gay’. If don’t know if he had homosexual encounters, *but if he did, I’m not sure if it caused Vivien to not love him anymore.
    Still, if it was true, then why Vivien said that and later went off with Peter Finch, to make Larry jealous, may be understandable. Because Vivien never did love Peter Finch.
    To this day I still have no idea why she went off with him.

    But Larry being unfaithful definitely did NOT cause her illness. I think that goes way back to Vivien’s childhood, her parents, and growing up in the convent.

    * it was alleged in a book called ‘Lord Larry’ that Olivier confessed he’d been molested/seduced by a priest when he was a boy.

  • Comment by Kendra — October 30, 2009 @ 3:39 am

    “Lord Larry” by Michael Munn? There is a lot of eyebrow-raising material in that book. I skimmed through it in the bookshop at London’s National Theatre back in February. it seemed very tabloid-ish to me and if someone was an actual friend of the subject of the book I don’t think things like that would ever be published.

    Here’s another indicator: Munn recently published a similar biography of David Niven in which he claimed to have all of these personal conversations with David shortly before he died. I spoke with David Niven jr on the phone a few months ago for a project I’m working on and he said Munn’s book about his dad was absolute trash and not true at all. In the time frame that Munn claimed to have these “conversations”, David Niven was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease and could barely even talk, and when he could talk it was very hard to understand him.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1195861/David-Niven-Junior-The-truth-Dads-deathbed-confession.html

    I think Vivien was with Peter Finch for the sex because at that time it seems Larry was simply worn out from everything and couldn’t handle her increasing demands.

  • Comment by Selina — October 30, 2009 @ 7:00 am

    It wasn’t tabloidish at all.
    Larry apparently confided in Michael Munn.
    A lot of sons and daughters would deny things about their own parents, unfortunatley to keep things ‘respectable’. I would not trust a newspaper story (which is a tabloid!) to tell the absolute truth.

    Larry wanted to confess EVERYTHING in his Confessions of an Actor autobiography but some things were not deemed publishable by the editor at the time. If you recall he was willing to go into great detail about his sex life with his wives and just stopped short of every little fling/flirtation that he did have.

    Oh true about Peter Finch. Vivien could be very needy. But I did read somewhere that Vivien was questioned about Larry as a lover by a male friend who was homosexually inclined and she said that he would be disappointed. Or something like that. In the theatre world I guess they all talked like that. It isn’t uncommon.

    Larry did confess that Noel Coward came onto him but he refused. So I guess there was always that thing, EVERYONE, male and female could be attracted to him and he could be very sexy.

    People would say in ‘Love Scene’ that when the Oliviers were in town that men would get erections just thinking about it. But it wasn’t Vivien who was the sex bomb – it was Larry.

  • Comment by Kendra — October 31, 2009 @ 5:04 am

    Personally, I doubt Larry actually sat down and confided in Michael Munn, and if he did I don’t think it would have been his life’s story in intimate detail. If he wanted something known about himself I think he would have written it in his autobiography. But if he did confide in people with personal matters I’m sure it would have been in his actual close friends and not some reporter who reputedly isn’t very credible. I read in a biography about Peter Brook that later in his life, Larry and Peter were at a dinner and Larry got drunk and started talking about his relationship with Vivien, and a reporter had a tape recorder hidden in his jacket pocket and then then turned around and published it word for word, and no amount of damage control could undo that one. Larry was really angry. But as far as children defending their famous parents, I think that’s perfectly understandable. Tarquin Olivier defends Larry a lot even though they didn’t have much of a close relationship. The Niven boys were much closer with their dad than Tarquin or Suzanne ever were with Larry or Vivien (although Tarquin adored Vivien and apparently Suzanne really liked Larry as a step-father).

    Didn’t Larry refuse to let an editor touch his autobiography? I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere. It would be interesting to see the manuscript, I think it’s in the British Library with the rest of his papers.

  • Comment by Kendra — October 31, 2009 @ 5:08 am

    “People would say in ‘Love Scene’ that when the Oliviers were in town that men would get erections just thinking about it. But it wasn’t Vivien who was the sex bomb – it was Larry.”

    I’m pretty sure it was some unnamed friend that was quoted in that book as saying he got an erection just ringing the doorbell at Larry and Vivien’s Hollywood home. But yes, after Wuthering Heights Larry was a really hot commodity with women in Hollywood. Understandably so!

  • Comment by Selina — November 2, 2009 @ 8:27 am

    He wasn’t a reporter! Read the book!
    Before you judge..read it for yourself.

  • Comment by Selina — November 2, 2009 @ 8:36 am

    AS for Tarquin and Suzanne, what sadness in their life when both Larry and Vivien died young, early and of horrible diseases.

    Larry never did make it to 100 as much as he would like to, and what’s her name— Joan Plowright said of the affairs that Larry had his own demons to contend with.

    You have to look at the total picture, not just at what they felt – because that changed all the time!

    Yes they had a beautful and lovely bond but still Vivien felt she had to cut the ribbons and lacings when it became too tight and she was suffocating.

    But she was the one who tied those ribbons, and Larry just wanted to be free for a while. Then Vivien got lost and had nightmares in the Abbey..you don’t know what it feels like because you’ve never been there yourself, spiritually lost I mean.

    Look – catholic married protestant (or was it Anglican?) and that’s always a dangerous mix. Very volotile relationship there, going against their religion and God himself.

    Larry always loved Jill (but forgot about her) and Leigh always loved Vivien. Vivien out of gratitude and kindness repayed him by never saying a bad word about him. That was love, real love..special friendship, marital fidelity..and sorrow.

  • Comment by Selina — November 2, 2009 @ 8:40 am

    yet everybody forgets to mention Jack. What a nice man Jack was, and a saint to put up with Vivien sometimes, especially when she took to drinking too much gin and tonic to drown her sorrows.

    It was tragic and sad to end that way, but at least at long last Vivien is at peace.

    Light a sparkler this Nov 5th, in memory of a beautiful and lovely bright star of the stage and screen,

    Lady Vivien/Vivian Leigh Holman Olivier

    and for little Vivian Mary Hartley, a lovely child who just was a little bit naughty! lol.

  • Comment by Kendra — November 2, 2009 @ 10:34 pm

    LOL, I don’t even think we’re talking about the same thing anymore…

    Michael Munn and the reporter who spilled the beans on Larry’s drunken spiel in the Peter Brook biography=two entirely different people.

  • Comment by Kendra — November 2, 2009 @ 11:12 pm

    Neither Larry or Vivien maintained fidelity in their first (or second–and for Larry even the third) marriage, though. There is a big difference between remaining friends with a previous spouse and having great respect for them and not saying negative things about them to the press, and not sleeping with other people while married to someone else.

    Larry never forgot about Jill. He kept in contact with her for the rest of his life (I’d really recommend tarquin Olivier’s book about his dad if you haven’t read it already). She even attended Vivien’s memorial service in place of Tarquin who couldn’t make it. But as for the always loving her part, I think that’s a big question mark. She may have always loved Larry, sure, but he said flat out that his marriage to her was a mistake from the beginning. Notice he never said any such thing about Vivien even though he left her for someone else and their divorce was nastier than his and Jill’s.

    Alas, all of these little pieces make up one big, totally complicated, yet interesting puzzle. :)

  • Comment by Maggie — August 30, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

    I have never believed Vivien was mentally ill.

    Her underlying condition was TB, a nasty, consuming and messy illness and it killed her. It hindered her ambitions, perhaps caused her miscarriages and stifled her lust for life. The partying, smoking, drinking–all rebellion against this condition. You all remember she was laid up at Notley for nine mos I believe while Larry had that brilliant year in London followed by the SHakespeare films. She was sharply intelligent and driven at a time when women… well.

    Maybe she had a strong sex drive and Larry didn’t. Then she was a nympho–today she’d be Samantha [er, with class ;) ]

  • Comment by nancybee — September 28, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

    To Kendra – Sorry to hear about your brother. I remember that there was some kind of diet that was supposed to help with schzophrenia something like niacin or niacinamide and other vitamins. Do a search on amazon.com and see if anything comes up!

    Anyway, back to Vivien. I thought it strange the way her parents dumped her in that convent when she was only six years old. I don’t know what to believe now. Was it drug interaction and shock treatments. Although I have known a few people who have had the shock treatments and they said it really helped them. I believe that Olivier being a man was realizing that she was becoming a burden and also a big disappointment. He desperately wanted more children and he knew she could not give him any children. He was racked with guilt after he left her and married Joan Plowright. I don’t believe he ever loved Plowright but needed her to give him more children.

    So we will probably never iron it all out. Poor woman has been dead since I was a teenager. She did get to enjoy her grandchildren for a few years before she died. Rest in peace Vivien.

  • Comment by nancybee — September 28, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

    A few more points on Vivien Leigh. The stories about her sexual life. It does seem that she might have been a bonafide sex addict. The question is was she really suffering from sexual addiction or was this behavior caused by her being bipolar or manic-depressive. As I stated before her childhood was odd and there seems to be alot of missing pieces. She seemed to be oddly detached from her parents. I also think it odd that her only child (her daughter) has never talked about her mother or discussed her mother. Does anyone know of any books or articles written by her daughter. So we will probably never totally solve the riddle and mystery of Vivien Leigh!

  • Comment by Carly — February 1, 2012 @ 8:11 am

    Psychiatrists do not always check for drug-induced disorders. I was on some tranquilizers for an unrelated matter when I experienced drug-induced symptoms. I demanded a psychiatric evaluation consisting of 500 questions with multiple choice answers. My doctor predicted the result would show some form of mental illness requiring medication. He had initially diagnosed a schizophreniform disorder, requesting I take medication for five years. The result of the test was fine. No meds required and I walked away never to return after ceasing all mood-altering drugs.

  • Comment by Bermondsay — November 16, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

    It’s very plausible that Vivien could have had actual TB in addition to mental issues, aggravated by her refusal to properly treat it. My grandfather flew in the 8th Air Force in World War II, and TB was a real problem on the air bases then. Servicemen were often screened for it. Vivien visited at least one of these bases for the Christening of Stage Door Canteen, a B-17: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/435934438901843181/

    My grandfather contracted TB in POW camp during the war and a few months after returning home, the TB presented itself. He spent 5 years on his back, undergoing weekly lung treatments involving inflation and deflation of the affected lung that predated regular treatment with isoniazid.

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