Laurence Olivier


The name Laurence Olivier immediately brings to mind the acknowledged master Shakespearean actor of the twentieth century. Trained at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art and the Birmingham Repertory, Olivier began appearing in Shakespearean productions while still a child. After performances on the London stage in ?The Suilot Officer,? ?Journey?s End,? and ?Private Lives,? Olivier made his mark playing Romeo in a 1935 John Gielgud production of ?Romeo and Juliet.?

Buoyed by excellent reviews, Olivier embarked on a Hollywood film career highlighted by a string of critically praised, box-office hits including ?Wuthering Heights,? (1939), ?Rebecca,? and ?Pride and Prejudice,? (both 1940). Olivier also served as an actor and director in film versions of ?Henry V,? receiving a Special Academy Award, ?Hamlet,? for which he earned a Best Actor Oscar, and ?Richard III.?

Occasionally, Olivier stepped out of his standard Shakespearean roles into eccentric character types like Archie Rice in ?The Entertainer,? and Crassus in ?Spartacus,? (both 1960), and the maniacal Dr. Szell in ?Marathon Man,? (1976).

Toting up some of Olivier?s major accomplishments, he spear headed London?s National Theatre Company from 1962 ? 1973, was knighted in 1947, made a Lord in 1970, received a 1979 Honorary Oscar; wrote two autobiographies: ?Confessions of an Actor,? (1984), and ?On Acting,? (1986).

Nominated for Academy Awards as an actor, producer, or director twelve times, winning twice, also honored with two special Oscars.

Appearances in the BDE Catalog:

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