Laurence Olivier

British actor, director and producer (1907-1989)

Sir Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM (22 May 1907 – 11 July 1989) was an English actor. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century.[1] He was the youngest actor to be knighted and the first to be raised to the peerage.[2] Olivier married English actresses Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright.

Laurence Olivier

Laurence Olivier (borders removed).jpg
Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1939
Born(1907-05-22)22 May 1907
Died11 July 1989(1989-07-11) (aged 82)
Cause of deathRenal failure
OccupationActor, director, producer, screenwriter
Years active1926–1988
Spouse(s)Jill Esmond
(m. 1930–1940; divorced)
Vivien Leigh
(m. 1940–1960; divorced)
Joan Plowright
(m. 1961–1989; his death)
Children2 sons, 2 daughters
RelativesSydney Olivier (uncle, dead)
Noel Olivier (cousin, dead)

Actor Spencer Tracy said that Olivier was 'the greatest actor in the English-speaking world'.[3] In 1999, the American Film Institute named Olivier among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, at number 14 on the list.

Olivier had many awards: twelve Oscar nominations, with two wins (for Best Actor and Best Picture for the 1948 film Hamlet), plus two honorary awards including a statuette and certificate. He was awarded five Emmy Awards. He was a three-time Golden Globe and BAFTA winner. In 1976 he received the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award, a lifetime achievement award.

Olivier's ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey.


  1. Hodgdon, Barbara. Shakespeare Quarterly, "From the Editor", Fall, 2002
  2. "Picks and Pans: Pages; Midnight Sweets". People Magazine. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  3. Tracy quoted in By Myself and Then Some by Lauren Bacall (Harper Paperbacks 2006), pp. 214-15.