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Quercus, Jun 3, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 352 pages
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A finalist for the Sheridan Morley Prize that has been called "probably the best Olivier book for general readers" (Kirkus Reviews), Philip Ziegler's Olivier provides an incredibly accessible and comprehensive portrait of this Hollywood superstar, Oscar-winning director, and one who is considered the greatest stage actor of the twentieth century. The era abounded in great actors--Gielgud, Richardson, Guinness, Burton, O'Toole--but none could challenge Laurence Olivier's range and power. By the 1940s he had achieved international stardom. His affair with Vivien Leigh led to a marriage as glamorous and as tragic as any in Hollywood history. He was as accomplished a director as he was a leading man: his three Shakespearian adaptations are among the most memorable ever filmed.

And yet, at the height of his fame, he accepted what was no more than an administrator's wage to become the founding Director of the National Theatre. In 2013 the theatre celebrates its fiftieth anniversary; without Olivier's leadership it would never have achieved the status that it enjoys today. Off-stage, Olivier was the most extravagant of characters: generous, yet almost insanely jealous of those few contemporaries whom he deemed to be his rivals; charming but with a ferocious temper. With access to more than fifty hours of candid, unpublished interviews, Ziegler ensures that Olivier's true character--at its most undisguised--shines through as never before.

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User Review  - Book Verdict

Sir Laurence Olivier is routinely ranked as one of the 20th century's greatest stage and screen actors, capable of playing kings or shabby has-beens. The actor's life (1907–89) and career has been the ... Read full review


User Review  - Kirkus

Veteran biographer Ziegler (Edward Heath, 2010, etc.) offers a well-rounded portrait of the legendary English actor.Laurence Olivier's life (1907-1989) has been the subject of innumerable biographies ... Read full review


List of Illustrations
Apprentice Days
Breakthrough 4 Birth ofa Classical Actor
Film Star
Naval Officer
The Old
Marking Time 16 Chichester
Act Three
Who Will Take Over?

Life Without the Old
Disintegration of a Marriage
The Coming ofHall
Oliviers Occupation Gone?
Biographers Afterword
Picture Credits

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About the author (2014)

Philip Ziegler has written for various newspapers and journals and was editor-in-chief at Collins from 1979 to 1980. He is also an award-winning biographer who counts among his subjects two kings and four prime ministers. His most recent book was an acclaimed life of Edward Heath.

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