Truly, Madly: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, and the Romance of the Century

Grand Central. Mar. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9781538731970. $30. FILM
Galloway (dean, Dodge Coll. of Film and Media Arts, Chapman Univ.; Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker) painstakingly dissects the complicated relationship between two of the most famous actors to tread the boards and shine on screen—Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. After falling in love while married to others, Olivier and Leigh became one of the first headline-making celebrity couples, whose passion and tempers provided almost daily fodder for gossip reporters. Galloway’s extensive research reveals the many hurdles the couple faced—mounting financial problems, miscarriages, affairs, and Leigh’s many health issues, from tuberculosis to undiagnosed bipolar disorder—and offers behind-the-scenes accounts from both their greatest successes (Gone with the Wind; Wuthering Heights) and their worst performances (their stage version of Romeo and Juliet was such a flop that audiences demanded their money back, and Leigh and Olivier lost their life savings, which they had invested into the production). While the focus is on Olivier and Leigh’s relationship, Galloway also offers a riveting depiction of the First and Second World Wars and show business in the U.S. and the UK.
VERDICT Will greatly appeal to cinema buffs, theater aficionados, and fans of the doomed lovebirds.
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