London, Mar 5: A series of scandalous affairs and her fragile mental health may be the reasons why Vivien Leigh was snubbed twice from being made a dame.
Astonishingly beautiful yet emotionally fragile, Leigh was one of the most talented actresses of her generation, winning Oscars for her performances as the feisty, wilful, Southern belle Scarlet O’Hara in ‘Gone With The Wind’ and as vain, fading beauty Blanche Dubois in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’.
Yet her personal problems meant she suffered debilitating psychiatric treatment while her romantically restlessness caused her to be openly flirtatious and to embark on a number of affairs during her tempestuous marriage to Sir Laurence Olivier.
But could these be the reasons that Leigh was overlooked for a damehood.
It has just been revealed in Cabinet Office papers that the convent educated British actress was twice considered for the highest gong the Queen can bestow on a woman – in 1952 and 1954 – and twice rejected, the Daily Express reported.
Two unidentified “experts” who were asked for their opinion on the matter suggested that she was not quite dame material but recommended her for the lesser honour, a CBE.
“There are contrary opinions about her merits as an actress. Personally I think she is underrated and see no reason why she should not have a CBE but certainly not a DBE,” one wrote.
In fact Leigh never received anything from the establishment. In 1952, when she was first overlooked, she was 39 and already had both her Oscars.
In particular, she was riding high with the critical acclaim for her performance as Blanche Dubois.
Her biographer Hugo Vickers believes the feeling Leigh was not quite in “The Dame Class” is most relevant.
He said that even though she won the Oscars twice, the British establishment might have taken a pretty dim view of Hollywood at the time. (ANI)