MOVIES

Who Plays Blanche DuBois Opposite Marlon Brando In A Streetcar Named Desire?

After making her film debut with a small role in 1935’s “Things Are Looking Up,” Vivien Leigh worked on both the stage and the big screen until she made quite the personal connection with Sir Laurence Olivier — she was his mistress while he was still married to his wife Jill Esmond. Thanks to Olivier’s tutelage, Leigh landed roles in productions like “Hamlet” at the Old Vic, where she played Ophelia to Olivier’s titular character. But her biggest opportunity was yet to come.

Leigh — who was born in India and raised both there and in England while the former was still under British rule — beat out a number of famous American actresses for the lead role of Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind,” an adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel of the same name. The movie, which was produced by legendary Hollywood figure David O. Selznick and released in 1939, immediately made Leigh a huge star and earned the actress her first of two Academy Awards (the second, as mentioned, was for playing Blanche DuBois). 

After marrying Olivier and appearing in projects like “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Leigh worked steadily until her mental health began to sharply decline, possibly due to a miscarriage. Though she continued working, her productions were plagued with problems due to her severe manic depression. Leigh ultimately developed tuberculosis, which led to her death in 1967. But her performance as Blanche, among other roles, lives on.

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