“Forgotten Hollywood”- Passing of Vivien Leigh’s Daughter…

Posted on March 9, 2015 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

   Suzanne Farrington was the only child of film star Vivien Leigh. She was born when her mother was 18. Restless to make her name on the stage, Leigh’s daughter was only two when the actress eloped with Laurence Olivier, and just after she won her Academy Award playing Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind.

   Suzanne spent much of her life coming to terms with the complicated phenomenon of her mother, with whom she always had difficulties (though unlike the daughters of Joan Crawford and others, she felt no temptation to share these with the world). Instead, she led most of her life away from the glare of publicity, and eventually, created a happy home for her husband and three sons. Farrington also held her stepfather (Olivier) in high regard.



   It wasn’t easy to be the daughter of a successful star. Suzanne shared neither her mother’s thespian qualities, nor her unique beauty. Her mother was absent for most of her childhood, and when war came, Suzanne went to Vancouver, Canada to live with her grandmother. Vivien visited her only once. Later, Suzanne moved to Banff, frequently skiing to school.

   In December, 1942, David O. Selznick conceived the idea of casting Suzanne as the young Jane in the Orson Welles film Jane Eyre, mindful of the publicity potential. Suzanne’s father, however, was adamantly against his daughter following her mother’s path. Suzanne did spend some time with Vivien at Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire, and there were a few holidays. She was also in Hollywood when Vivien was filming A Streetcar Named Desire in 1951.

   Suzanne’s wedding coincided with the crumbling marriage of her parents. On Vivien Leigh’s death in 1967, she was left most of her estate. Her later life was overshadowed by a stream of sensational books that came out about her mother. She realized that she needed to put her trust in one author. On the advice of Peter Hiley, who ran Laurence Olivier Productions, she agreed to work with Hugo Vickers, consigning to him her grandmother’s diaries and other papers. The book was published in 1988, and she later described it as the only one she could read without embarrassment.

   The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased the Vivien Leigh Archive from Suzanne last year, so that Vivien’s correspondence with Olivier, letters to her, photographs, play scripts, and other papers could become available to future historians.

   The very private Suzanne Farrington was 81.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Monday, March 9th, 2015 at 7:50 pm and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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