Vivien Leigh, the Oscar-winning British actress who was born to play the fiery Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara, in the 1939 motion picture, Gone with the Wind, is about to become the “belle” of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The V&A Museum announced Wednesday that it has acquired an extensive collection of the star’s personal and professional items. The acquisition was made possible from the star’s grandchildren through Robert Holden Ltd. This is a significant year for this as it is also the 100th anniversary of her birth.
Items include correspondence from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, playwright Noel Coward, playwright and critic Graham Greene, Marilyn Monroe, and other personalities. The collection also contains her personal diary, press clippings, photographs, her film and theater scripts, guest book registry signed by celebrities, her awards, and the love letters to and from actor Laurence Olivier, who was her husband from 1940 to 1961.
The museum will offer a changing display of memorabilia from the Vivien Leigh collection beginning in the fall. The archive tells both the story of her life and career, and offers insight into the theatrical and social world of her time. She won two Academy Awards: one in 1939 for Best Actress for her portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara, and the other in 1951, also for Best Actress, for her role of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Gone with the Wind was already in pre-production when Leigh auditioned and was cast. She was unknown to American audiences, but that changed quickly. She, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel, Clark Gable, and Leslie Howard helped make this the most celebrated motion picture of all time.
Martin Roth, the director of the V&A Museum, said that Leigh is a true star of her time and is “one of the UK’s greatest luminaries of stage and screen.”
This exhibit marks the first time these items have been made available for public viewing. As Scarlett O’Hara would say, “Tomorrow is another day.”
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Senior Museum Correspondent
Mitchell, Margaret, (1936). Gone with the Wind