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Born May 22, 1907, in Dorking, Surrey. British actor and director.
Olivier graduated from the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, where he studied under E. Fogerty. He made his first appearance at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1922 as Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew. From 1926 to 1928, Olivier was with the Birmingham Repertory company; he later performed at various theaters in London and New York. In 1929 he began to act in films.
Olivier has worked both as a stage director and a managing director of the Old Vic Theatre (1944–49, with R. Richardson and J. Burrell), St. James’s Theatre (1951–52), the Chichester Festival Theatre (1962–63), and the National Theatre (1963–73).
Olivier is one of the greatest Shakespearean actors. He has played the title roles in Hamlet, Richard III, Henry V, Titus Andronicus, Coriolanus, and Othello. His other roles have included Oedipus in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Astrov in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, and Archie Rice in Osborne’s The Entertainer. Olivier’s heroes are courageous, strong-willed, rebellious people, full of strength and passion. Aloof from an overconcern with self-analysis, Olivier emphasizes the primacy of reason and a sense of reality.
REFERENCEDarlington, W. A. Laurence Olivier. [London, 1968.]
F. M. KRYMKO