Although she is best known as the feisty Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, Vivien Leigh starred in a number of film and stage roles and was in her time one of the great Hollywood beauties. She was already married when she met and fell in love with Laurence Olivier (the great British actor), and they both eventually divorced their spouses and married each other. They remained married until 1960 when they got divorced. Leigh then married another man and remained so until her death in 1967.
She best defined by her role in Gone with the Wind, for which she won an Academy Award. Indeed, Scarlet O’Hara is quite the woman, using all her feminine machinations to achieve whatever goal she has set before her, however difficult. There is a classic sexiness to her performance in that film. She combines both the intensity of a sexually charged woman as well the innocence of a Southern Belle. Despite the fact that so much of sexuality depicted on screen back then was more nuanced, hinted at, and hidden than today, one can imagine that Scarlet would like to fuck, and fuck all night long, with the right man. One also understands that only a true alpha male such as Rhett Butler has the stuff to make her wet. I imagine she would be a screamer in bed too.
The famous scene of Rhett carrying her up the staircase is one of the great, sexually charged moments in film history. In so many ways, in all its innuendo and suggestiveness, without showing anything graphic, it is a far more potent depiction of sexual passion than the false in-your-face depictions of sex in today’s cinema. What is so intriguing about these older films is that sexual passion is often right beneath the surface, but because we never actually see two people in bed and everything is left to the imagination, it ends up being more alluring and enticing than so much of what we see today. In many ways these older films seem more, how shall I say, human and realistic than today’s? We often see two people engaging in the slow and stimulating game of attraction, using their intellects and emotions. The art of seduction can be learned well by studying such classics.
In her private life Leigh was troubled by depression. Eventually it took its toll on her and her marriage with Olivier. Yet we can see the vulnerability that this disease brought out in her, not only in Gone with the Wind but other roles. As a great actress, she was most likely able to tap into that pain for her performances. Few actresses can pull off both being a bitch, being tough, being feisty, and being soft, vulnerable and feminine as well.
It is this intense combination that makes her attractive and alluring, and a classic beauty: intensity, passion, vulnerability, femininity. These are some of the things men can melt for, or rather, that unique combination of sexual intensity and deep vulnerability. Physically she was beautiful and, as this photo of her in a corset shows, she looked hot in the pretty underwear of 19th century as well.