Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Walk On The Wild Side

Dana Andrews, Vivien Leigh and Peter Finch prepare to leave London to film on location in Ceylon, January 26, 1953
"Vivien Leigh is in Hollywood to complete her role in Elephant Walk, for which exteriors were filmed in Ceylon. When I saw her on the set, she was happily poring over a 10-page handwritten letter from her husband, Laurence Olivier..." -- Bob Thomas' column, March 6, 1953

"Vivien Leigh is dropping out of the movie Elephant Walk, and will return to England...Her studio said yesterday she was quitting the picture because of an acute nervous breakdown." -- Associated Press, March 18, 1953

Covered by a sheet, Vivien Leigh is carried aboard a plane on a stretcher, following her breakdown in Los Angeles, March 18, 1953
"If you want to take pictures of Miss Leigh, please don't get too close to her. I would appreciate it if none of you attempted to question her. She is ill. She might get frightened." -- Laurence Olivier to the assemblage of press meeting their airplane, March 19, 1953

"Screen star Vivien Leigh, hysterical when she boarded a plane in New York yesterday, stepped blithely out of it today, smiling happily...Somewhere over the Atlantic, she had made a remarkable -- if only temporary -- recovery from a nervous breakdown...Weeping hysterically, Miss Leigh had been put on the plane in New York's Idewild International Airport yesterday by Laurence Olivier and their friend, Danny Kaye..." -- Robert Musel for the United Press, March 20, 1953

Original wire photo caption: "3/19/53...Smiling, though obviously ill, actress Vivien Leigh is pictured with husband Sir Laurence Olivier on arrival in New York today from Los Angeles, en route to London. Suffering from a 'complete nervous breakdown,' the actress was carried into her plane last night on a stretcher."
"There will be two stars playing the same role now that Liz Taylor is in and Vivien Leigh is out of Elephant Walk...The studio will use many of Vivien's long shots, filmed in India." -- Erskine Johnson's column, March 31, 1953

"Elizabeth Taylor's poodle haircut was a real headache when she suddenly replaced Vivien Leigh in Elephant Walk. She had to have longer locks to match up with the Ceylon long shots of Vivien. She'll virtually be wearing a wig. Also, she is heavier than Vivien..." -- Harrison Carroll's column, March 31, 1953

"Elizabeth Taylor, according to producer Irving Ascher, is just right in all three dimensions -- bust, waist and hips -- for the camera in Elephant Walk. She has lost 30 pounds..." -- Erskine Johnson's column, May 9, 1953

Elizabeth Taylor in Elephant Walk (Paramount, 1954)
"If bad beginnings make for good endings, Elephant Walk should be the best picture of all time. Elizabeth Taylor has just one more day of shooting to finish, but the doctors don't know when she will be able to leave the hospital. The bit of flint that lodged in her eye during a storm scene on the set was rusty. The injury is not only very painful, but her face is badly swollen." -- Louella Parsons' column, May 14, 1953

"Elizabeth Taylor, recovered from an eye operation, revealed today she nearly lost the sight of one of her famous orbs...'You can still see the sear -- a fraction from the retina. If it had been a hair's width to the right, I wouldn't be able to see.'" -- Aline Mosby's column, June 5, 1953

Elizabeth Taylor in Elephant Walk (Paramount, 1954)
"You mustn't blame the elephants...I hope Elizabeth Taylor is very good in the part." -- Vivien Leigh to the United Press, July 18, 1953

Elizabeth Taylor in Elephant Walk (Paramount, 1954)


  1. Congratulations!

    Vivien Leigh was the actress with more talent of all the times.
    She was the perfect Scarlett O'hara!

    Elizabeth Taylor's beauty is incomparable!

  2. Considering all the pictures, many far more prestigious than this one, that she even attempted Elephant Walk shows how deeply Vivien felt for Peter Finch at the time. Not that I didn't enjoy the film with Elizabeth stepping in for her, and it's one of the films where Liz is at the height of her loveliness, but its hardly in the same league as most of the projects Miss Leigh chose.

  3. I have never seen this movie. However, I wonder who they could have cast if Elizabeth Taylor had not been available at that time. I guess they could have cast any number of actresses, but they would have had to re-shoot or eliminate the long shots of Vivien Leigh. Jean Simmons could have been a contender. In fact, I think Elizabeth kind of looks like her in the last photo of this entry.

    1. Jean Simmons and Elizabeth definitely bore a resemblance to each other, very much in the English Rose variety. She could have stepped in as easily as Taylor, at the time they both had similar hairdos and figures, Jean wasn't as busty as Elizabeth though. Jean was the more consistently strong actress of the two but few had the movie star presence of Miss Taylor.

    2. In keeping with the casual sexism of the times, nearly all of the articles I sourced didn't make a POINT of stating how much younger Liz was than Vivien, or how much heavier she was, but rather included this information in a very off handed manner. But they damn well made sure to include it!

  4. I'm always impressed when I watch a Taylor film. She was damned good . Most of the time her astonishing beauty blinds us to this imo ...and Vivien had this problem as well

  5. Poor Vivien- must've been tough to have dealt with being manic-depressive in the public eye, and years before Lithium....

  6. Vivien is still in the film, at least in the long shots that were shot on location. The cheekbones are unmistakable.