1. Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier of Brighton, Kt, OM was an English actor who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century.
2. He also worked in films throughout his career, playing more than fifty cinema roles.
3. Late in his career, he had considerable success in television roles.
4. After attending a drama school in London, Olivier learned his craft in a succession of acting jobs during the late 1920s.
5. In 1935 he played in a celebrated production of Romeo and Juliet alongside Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft, and by the end of the decade he was an established star.
6. In the 1940s, together with Richardson and John Burrell, Olivier was the co-director of the Old Vic, building it into a highly respected company.
7. In the 1950s Olivier was an independent actor-manager, but his stage career was in the doldrums until he joined the avant garde English Stage Company in 1957 to play the title role in The Entertainer, a part he later played on film.
8. His television appearances included an adaptation of The Moon and Sixpence .
9. He was married three times, to the actresses Jill Esmond from 1930 to 1940, Vivien Leigh from 1940 to 1960, and Joan Plowright from 1961 until his death.
10. This made him unacceptable to most Anglican congregations, and the only church posts he was offered were temporary, usually deputising for regular incumbents in their absence.
11. He held the post for six years, and a stable family life was at last possible. Nevertheless, he learned a great deal of the art of performing from him.
12. Olivier wrote that his father knew “when to drop the voice, when to bellow about the perils of hellfire, when to slip in a gag, when suddenly to wax sentimental …
13. The quick changes of mood and manner absorbed me, and I have never forgotten them.”
14. In 1916, after attending a series of preparatory schools, Olivier passed the singing examination for admission to the choir school of All Saints, Margaret Street, in central London.