To this day, Vivien Leigh is still remembered for her role as Scarlett O'Hara in the successful 1939 film, "Gone With the Wind," but there is reason to believe she initially thought the movie would be a complete flop.
In a series of letters from Scarlett's husband, actor, Laurence Olivier, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the two discussed what they believed to be a failure.
"You have got to justify yourself in the next two or 3 films (or even 2 or 3 years) by proving that the presumable failure of Gone W.T.W. was not your fault and you can only do that by being really good in the following parts," Laurence wrote to Vivien in one letter. "To make a success of your career in pictures [is] ESSENTIAL for your self respect, and our ultimate happiness therefore. … If you don't, I am afraid you may become just — well boring."
Laurence couldn't have been more wrong. By today's standards, "Gone With the Wind" would have brought in $1.5 billion dollars.
THR also viewed letters from Vivien's Hollywood secretary to her husband about her mental illness, of which she began to show signs of in 1937.
"Several times I thought she really was going mad," her secretary wrote during the filming of "Gone With the Wind." "She warned me once that someday she would and I was beginning to believe that time has come."
She was later diagnosed as manic-depressive and the couple, who began their 20-year marriage with an affair, divorced in 1960.
"Oh God Vivling, how I do pray that you will find happiness and contentment now[.]" he wrote to her after their breakup. "I pray constantly that I may take you off from you some of your unhappiness onto myself and I must say it seems to work from this end as your unhappiness is a torment to me; and the thought of it a constant nightmare. Perhaps [perhaps] now it may be allowed to gently lift off and blow softly away."
Vivien died seven years after their split, of tuberculosis, at the age of 53.