Laurence Olivier

Anthony Holden, Author Atheneum Books $0 (504p) ISBN 978-0-689-11536-3
Biographer of British royalty, Holden ( Charles, Prince of Wales , etc.), here splendidly conveys the dynamic, versatile and appealing character of the first lord of British theater and international film. Contending that there is no single Olivier persona, the author presents him in the countless guises he has assumed, from repertory apprentice to classical Old Vic actor, always avowedly ``working from the outside in,'' masking his identity in a dazzling variety of stage, screen and TV parts. Equally successful are his roles as founder-director of the National Theatre, feudal squire and peer of the realm. Recounted with great sensitivity also is Olivier's romantic but tragic marriage to Vivien Leigh. Holden's narrative is spiced by anecdotes and appraisals contributed by the performer's friends and colleaguesactors Richardson, Gielgud, Noel Coward, Dame Sybil Thorndike and directors Alexander Korda and Tyrone Guthrie among them. Since his appearances in Long Day's Journey into Night on stage in 1972, the film Marathon Man in 1976 and a televised Lear in 1983, ill health has limited the 81-year-old Olivier to cameo parts. His recent years, Holden shows, have been enriched by marriage to Joan Plowright and fatherhood. Photos not seen by PW. (October)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 504 pages - 978-0-02-033285-5
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