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Quercus Publishing, Sep 12, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 464 pages
4 Reviews

Hollywood superstar; Oscar-winning director; 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 With access to more than fifty hours of candid, unpublished interviews, Philip Ziegler ensures that Olivier's true character - at its most undisguised - shines through as never before.

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User Review  - Stephen Rees - 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

Review: Olivier

User Review  - Goodreads

This is really an interesting and well researched book. The relationships between Olivier and Richardson and Gielgud as well as the women in his life are fascinating. As an actor, I found the stories about his acting techniques and challenges very interesting. Read full review

About the author (2013)

Philip Ziegler is one of Britain's leading biographers, who counts among his subjects two kings and four prime ministers. He has written for various newspapers and journals and was editorial director at Collins from 1979 to 1980.

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