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Olivier is an unexpected portrait of the twentieth century's greatest actor. His was a fairytale story - the clergyman's son who, on the strength of one season at the Old Vic, became a great Shakespearean actor and went on to conquer Hollywood - yet Olivier struggled with the dark side of his genius. Abandoning his first wife, he married Vivien Leigh; a manic depressive, she dominated his life for twenty years. When he finally wrenched himself away, he was plagued by a guilt that only incessant work could expiate. He married Joan Plowright, had a new young family, and was the founding director of the National Theatre - yet even the NT, he felt, ended in betrayal. Drawing on his unlimited and uncensored access to Olivier's personal papers, love letters and diaries, Terry Coleman has written a landmark biography.

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