You are now in the poetry cafe, say hi to our two hostesses: Ms. Bien Nho and Ms. Hu Vo
Ms. BIEN NHO
Miss Bien Nho as Miss Vivien Leigh
Vivien Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley on the evening of Wednesday November 5th, 1913 in her parents home in Darjeeling, India. At the age of 15, she went to Paris to spend a term at a finishing school in Auteuil. She was the youngest student in the school, however she was already moving from the awkward youth phase into a charming, dark haired beauty that would later bring much fame. During this time, she developed an interest in the visual arts and continued to study languages - notably French and German.
Ms. HU VO
Miss Hu Vo as Miss Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth is one of the most captivating, talented and glamorous actresses the world has ever seen. She was not only a great beauty but she had a combination of strength and sensitivity that set her apart from all the other actresses of her time. From Rita's screen persona, it's hard to believe that she was actually a very shy woman with great insecurities in real life. She was a much better actress than she was ever given credit for. Afterall, she did make the world believe in the "Rita Hayworth" image she brought to life. She brightened up America during World War II with her dancing in musicals like Cover Girl and You Were Never Lovelier and displayed her great acting talents in films like The Loves of Carmen and Miss Sadie Thompson. She starred in movies for nearly four decades and turned herself into one of the greatest Hollywood legends of all time.
Ms. BIEN NHO
In January of 1932 Vivien met Leigh Holman while staying at her aunt's in Teignmouth, England. He was a man 13 years her senior, but possessed
a charm and intelligence Vivien found captivating. The wedding between Leigh and Vivien took place on December 20th 1932, at St. James's Cathedral. Her destiny would not remain domestic for long however, she had just heard of the chance for a small part in a new film entitled Things are Looking Up.
The year was 1934. On August 21st, Vivien arrived at Lime Grove Studios to begin work on her first film, Things are Looking Up. Work progressed slowly and when the film was finished, her one line of dialogue was cut from an already small role. In September, Vivien went to see a play called Theatre Royal starring a popular new stage actor, Laurence Olivier. She returned several times to see him act, intrigued by his good looks and stage presence. She even said to a girlfriend, "that's the man I'm going to marry", knowing quite well that both she and her new matinee idol were already married.
Ms. HU VO
Rita began her career at Columbia Pictures with the movie Criminals of the Air. By the time it was released she was known as "Rita Hayworth".
During this early time at Columbia she was rushed into one
"B" picture after another, often with the same co-stars,
her most frequent being Charles Quigley. Films such as Girls Can Play, Who Killed Gail Preston and Convicted were some of these "quickie"
productions in which she starred. Then in late 1938, director Howard Hawks was looking for someone to cast as Judy MacPherson in his upcoming film starring Cary Grant and the reigning queen of Columbia Pictures, Jean Arthur. The movie was Only Angels Have Wings and was a major box office hit and Rita's best film to date. It gave a huge boost to her career. Rita got the starmaking role of the temptress in Blood and Sand. The picture, her first in Technicolor, co-starred her with Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell
and Anthony Quinn. The film's success made Rita Hayworth
Hollywood's hottest new star.
Ms. BIEN NHO
The remainder of 1935 was slow, and she performed in a few more plays of less importance. One thing of note did occur however - she was introduced to her matinee idol, Laurence Olivier, at the trendy Savoy Grill in London. In August 1936, he was asked to co-star in what would be Vivien's first film for Alexander Korda, Fire Over England. Olivier played a sailor sent to Spain on an important mission for the Queen.
Vivien played Cynthia, the Queen's lady-in-waiting, and his new found love. This film gave the two rising stars time to spend with each other on screen and off, and their relationship grew stronger.
Vivien was loaned to MGM to make A Yank at Oxford to increase her American exposure - a move that would benefit both Alexander Korda's role as her producer and Vivien's career, especially if she was to be considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara. She worked on A Yank at Oxford during the autumn of 1937 with her former convent schoolmate, and now actress, Maureen O'Sullivan,while Olivier shot
The Divorce of Lady X with Merle Oberon.
In 1938, Laurence Olivier was asked to play the part of Heathcliff opposite Merle Oberon in a Hollywood production of Wuthering Heights. Accepting this offer, he left England on
November 5th 1938- Vivien's 25th birthday. Wanting to be with him as soon as possible, she abandoned her winter plan of performing in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Old Vic, and left heading towards California on Saturday November 27th for a two week trip .
Margaret Mitchell's book, Gone With the Wind had sold 326,000 copies during the first six weeks of publication and won The Pulitzer Prize of 1937. Taking four years to write, it has sold millions more copies in the decades that followed, and started
a world wide phenomenon. Still a recent best-seller in 1938, Vivien re-read the book on her journey towards Hollywood to visit Laurence Olivier. After a remarkably well timed introduction to David O. Selznick by her Hollywood agent
on December 10th,the first night of location shooting, Vivien did screen tests for her dream role. Both Selznick, and the film's director George Cukor, were impressed by her talent and beauty, and she was signed for the coveted role of Scarlett O'Hara. Her performance carried the film and helped create the success and popularity that would never cease,even today, six decades later. After doing some retakes for GWTW, Vivien next was given the lead role in MGM's
Waterloo Bridgeas part of her new Hollywood contract, although she would have preferred
working on Pride and Prejudice. Olivier had the option to work with her as the leading man in Waterloo Bridge or take the lead in Pride and Prejudice. Vivien would work on either film,
as long as she could work with Olivier. Due to her contract however, she ended up
signing on to Waterloo Bridge without him.
Ms. BIEN NHO
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On February 29th,1940, the annual Academy Awards were held in the Ambassador Hotel in Hollywood. Vivien arrived with Olivier and at 1 am, her name was announced for best actress. Gone With the Wind was released two months later in her home country - and ended up running consecutively for 4 years in London. In May, Waterloo Bridge was released in America to favorable reviews and critics were surprised to see a different side of the actress, not just another variation on Scarlett. Vivien followed Waterloo Bridge with Romeo and Juliet on stage in New York with Olivier directing and co-starring. After a brief summer holiday, Vivien returned to Hollywood and began preparing for her new role as Lady Hamilton, a film that was thought as a suitable propaganda vehicle for US-Britain. In September, the new "Mr and Mrs Olivier" began working together on the set of That Hamilton Woman. It was difficult to receive a production code of approval with a story that involved a man living in sin with another man's wife, but after several changes in the script, That Hamilton Woman (Lady Hamilton) was released in America in July 1941. Vivien's name appears above Olivier's on the opening titles, notably because of her success in Gone With the Wind. This unfortunately would be the last time the Olivier's made a film together. The Skin of Our Teeth opened in May of 1945 to outstanding reviews and high acclaim for Vivien's portrayal of Sabina. It was considered her finest role on stage, and her contemporaries acknowledged her as a gifted actress on stage and screen. The new year arrived, and Vivien began work on Anna Karenina at Shepperton Studios, a return to cinema after 2 years, play a role she very much desired. She knew that her performance would be compared to Greta Garbo's earlier infamous role, so she not only played the character differently, but with her own personal approach to the book; causing some critics to praise her skill, while others said she was a skillful actor presenting a completely unsentimental and un-true character. Vivien began work on yet another play, this time by a popular new playwright, Tennessee Williams, called A Streetcar Named Desire. For many, it is Vivien's most powerful and moving performance, realistically showing the disturbing journey of a woman's disintegration into madness. In the summer of 1950, Vivien left England to return to Hollywood after nearly a decade absence, and began work on the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Vivien purposely made her self look older and unflattering for the film - using heavy makeup, wigs, and drastic lighting which would hide her still beautiful features. Audiences in the autumn of 1951 were stunned to see such a different person, barely recognizing the actress that played Scarlett so exquisitely a decade earlier. The resulting film in 1951 was still powerful, perhaps Vivien's finest achievement, winning her a second best actress Oscar, as well as best actress awards from the New York critics . Vivien agreed to play the lead in the film Elephant Walk opposite Peter Finch. Vivien's health deteriorated rapidly and her part in Elephant Walk was taken over by Elizabeth Taylor The film itself was not commercially successful once released. After a 5 years absence from the screen, Vivien began work on a new film written by Tennessee Williams called "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone." Her co-star was a very youthful Warren Beatty, and Vivien wore a graying light blonde wig for her role. Reviews of the film were positive, and Vivien had returned to the screen in a new and impressive light. In June 1964, she returned to Hollywood to make what would be her final film: " Ship of Fools " .
Ms. HU VO
So with her new status as a "star" came a new contract, new dressing room and a starring role opposite Fred Astaire in You'll Never Get Rich. She was becoming, as Hollywood called her, "The Love Goddess". She had begun her reign as the queen of Columbia Pictures. Nevertheless, for her next two films she was again loaned to Fox. First to replace the overworked Betty Grable in My Gal Sal, then to be one of the stars in the all-star cast movie, Tales of Manhattan. It was in connection with the latter of the two that on July 24, 1942 Rita immortalized her hand and footprints in cement in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater. Then it was back to Columbia where she was reunited with Fred Astaire for the classic musical, You Were Never Lovelier. Also by this time The United States had entered World War II and the GI's at home and abroad had made Rita one of their favorite pin-up girls. On May 27, 1943 shooting began on Rita's next film, Cover Girl. The next year Rita was back at work, in September 1945 production began on the movie that has become synonymous with Rita Hayworth, Gilda. Rita's rendition of "Put the Blame on Mame" in the film caused a problem with the censors who called Rita's dance a "striptease". Actually, all she takes off during the dance is one glove. Her performance in Gilda made such an impact that, depending on which sources you read, either the name "Gilda", or Rita's picture was put on the side of the atomic bomb that was tested on Bikini Atoll on July 1, 1946. Gilda represents the indelible image of Rita Hayworth that the public continues to have today. Her next picture was Down To Earth, a fantasy musical which showcased a never more beautiful Rita as Terpsichore, the goddess of song and dance. Rita was at the height of her fame and it was exactly how the public wanted to see her, so of course it was a box-office smash. Next she starred in the movie Orson Welles had produced, written, directed and co-starred with her in, The Lady from Shanghai.
Ms. HU VO
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Not released until 1948, the film did not do so well at the box office. However, nowadays, it's considered a classic and a film which most Hayworth fans these days, including myself, love. Not surprisingly, it is also said to have been one of Rita's favorites. By this time Rita had discussed a new
contract with Harry Cohn in which she would receive a portion of the profits any of her future films made. Through the new contract she also formed her own production company, Beckworth (a combination of her daughter's name and
her own last name) and her next film,
The Loves of Carmen was produced by it. In 1951, she was back at Columbia Pictures, filming "Affair In Trinidad" . She was every bit "The Love Goddess" on the screen. It became apparent that during Rita's absence from films, she hadn't lost any of her appeal to the movie-going public when her first movie in four years became a bigger box office hit than Gilda. The film co-starred Rita for the fourth time in her career with her favorite leading man, Glenn Ford. Her next movie was
one of her least favorite, Salome, in which she played the biblical
siren of the film's title. It co-starred her with Stewart Granger
and Charles Laughton. Rita did not make any more movies
for the next couple of years after her next film "Miss Sadie Thompson." In 1956, she went back to work on her next film, "Fire Down Below" with Jack Lemmon
and Robert Mitchum. Rita had one more film to make for Columbia Pictures to fulfill her contractual obligations with the studio. The picture was Pal Joey. In it, they starred her opposite Frank Sinatra and the woman Columbia was planning to use as the replacement as Hollywood's next "love goddess" Kim Novak. If you watch the movie
you'll see that at thirty-eight Rita still looks and dances great. She sparkles in the film, especially in her
"Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" number. Nevertheless, Pal Joey turned out to be Rita's last musical.