Calling all Vivien Leigh and/or Laurence Olivier fans, Anglophiles, English people, Londoners:
Durham Cottage, Vivien and Laurence Olivier’s love nest in Chelsea, London, was auctioned off today. As it isn’t a Grade Listed building (it’s old and has obvious historic value, so why it’s not listed is beyond me), it runs the risk of being drastically remodeled, or worse, demolished.
It may be too late to do anything, but please sign this petition to ask English Heritage to intervene with a temporary grade listing.
Even if you have no idea who Vivien Leigh or Laurence Olivier were, this building has historical value. Plus, it’s a colorful and quirky gem in a sea of brownstone near the Chelsea Royal Hospital. Please add your name to the list!
- Kendra Bean
Vivien Leigh biographer/Fan
I hope you don’t mind me asking if you could help the Vivien Leigh Circle and sign this petition. We are trying to protect Durham Cottage, once home (love nest) to Vivien Leigh and Laurence Oliver. If you could help us in our cause we would be very grateful. It takes just one minute. Thank you!
And so it was I entered the broken world / To trace the visionary company of love, its voice / An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)/ But not for long to hold each desperate choice.
- The Broken Tower, by Hart Crane
This poem is the epigraph to A Streetcar named Desire by Tenesse Williams. Crane was one of Williams’s icon and he felt a personal affinity with Crane, but most important Williams identifed with Crane as a homosexual writer trying to find a means of self expression in a heterolsexual world.
"There’s a story, a legend about a bird that sings just once in its life. From the moment it leaves its nest, it searcha for a thorn tree and never rests until it’s found one. And then it sings more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. And singing it impales itself on the longest, sharpest thorn. But as it dies, it rises above its own agony to out-sing the lark and the nightingale. The thorn bird pays its life for just one song but the whole world stills listen. And God in his heaven smiles.” - Thorn Birds (1983)
As I grow older, when looking back, I realize I was always in love with “being in love”, seldome really in love. This was an important condition for me to be in. The world looked brighter, I felt I looked prettier, my performances were definetely better. Hedda Hopper, the famous columnist, once remarked about this in her column: “Bette Davis’s best performences are when she is in love”. How right Miss Hopper was. - Bette Davis in “This ‘n That”
"I will be the last to deny the nationwide search for Scarlett ‘O’ Something’ in the now world famous GWTW infuriated me. It could have been written FOR me. Warners had dropped its option while I was in London, and David Selznick had bought the story. When I read it and remembered Mr Warner’s promise, I was fit to be tied. It is true that I got my second chance to play Scarlett. When I initial plans were in the making, Mr Selznick asked Warners if they could borrow Bette David and Errol Flynn as a “package”. The thought of Mr Flynn as Rhett appalled me. I was not going to be part of that parcel, I wasn’t. And that was my last chance. Kukor was the director in the beginning. He still saw me as the girl in Broadway and, whatever his ancient grievance, his thumbs were still down. By such intangibles are careers affected. The quest for Scarlett became international, and I had my partisans. I was as perfect for Scarlett as Gable was for Rhett. And many knew this. In the face of such obvious casting aspiration, the official decision was to find a fresh face. One would have thought me Ouspenskaya! (Waterloo Bridge). The story is too familiar to belabour. Everybody’s second cousin was tested and I was used as a touchstone. That was how right I was. It was insanity that I not be given Scarlett. But then, Hollywood has never been rational. I only argue with the eventual choice it was not I. Nor do I retract one whit from Miss Leigh’s beautiful performance when I say that I still wish I’d got my hands on it. But as luck would have it, Julie Marsden, the Jezebel in question, was a blood sister of Scarlett’s. Wilful, perverse and proud, she was every inch the Southern Belle. She had the same cast-iron fragility, the same resourcefulness, the same rebellion. Julie was the best part I had had since Mildred. I had no time to be shocked by the fact that my little white cottage was crumbling. Like a set that is struck after a performance, it seemed like the dream it was – a facade, a temporary scene for pointless arguments.”
(Bette Davis on Scarlett, Vivien Leigh and Jezebel in The Lonely Life)
Mollie: “Did you never know that flirting gets into a woman’s blood like fighting gets into a man’s? Now, a girl begins coquetting to discover if she has the power. Then she goes looking, like a fighter after a bully, for the hardest man to conquer. But ‘tis never the man she wants, ‘tis the pleasure of bringing him to her feet.”
Jeff: “Till the right man comes along and gives her the spanking she deserves.”
Mollie: “Ah, that’s the man she dreams of.”
(Union Pacific, 1939)