by Terry Coleman

Hardcover, 2005




New York : H. Holt, 2005.


Based on unprecedented access, the definitive biography of Sir Laurence Olivier, the dashing, self-invented Englishman who became the greatest actor of the twentieth century. Olivier met everyone, knew everyone, and played every role in existence. But he was as elusive in life as he was on the stage, a bold and practiced pretender who changed names, altered his identity, and defied characterization. Biographer Coleman draws for the first time on the vast archive of Olivier's private papers and those of his family, uncovering the history and the private self that Olivier worked all his life to obscure. Acting and sex were for him inseparable: through famous romances with Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright and countless trysts, these relationships entangled with his stage work, each feeding the other and driving Olivier to greater heights. Here is the first comprehensive account of the man whose autobiography, written late in his life, told only a small part of the story.--From publisher description.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member AlisonM
Coleman manfully weeds out the fact from the fiction in the long & colourful life of one of the English stage's greatest actors. Even handed & fair but factual excellence over-rules entertainment value.
LibraryThing member bibliothecarivs
Famed and acclaimed British actor Laurence Olivier (1907-1989) was an actor to his core, a self-identification which guided him confidently along the path of his life's work. But it also meant that his true personality, underneath his talent for professional deception, was known by only a few. Given unprecedented access to the remnants of Olivier's life (his effects, his letters, and his family) to cut through the miasmus of previous biographies, Terry Coleman has crafted a great and moving opus on the life of an equivocating genius.… (more)



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