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British Legends: The Life and Legacy of Laurence Olivier

Narrated by: Michael Gilboe
Length: 1 hr and 11 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

"If I wasn't an actor, I think I'd have gone mad. You have to have extra voltage, some extra temperament to reach certain heights. Art is a little bit larger than life - it's an exhalation of life and I think you probably need a little touch of madness." (Laurence Olivier)

A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' British Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of Britain's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.

Of all the great actors of the 20th century, none personifies acting royalty more than Laurence Olivier. Some of this is simply due to the fact that he was actually knighted in 1947, along with a lengthy list of other honors that include being named a life peer in 1970 and admission to the Order of Merit in 1984. To speak of The Right Honourable Lord Laurence Olivier is not a figure of speech but rather a fact.

Of course in addition to the literal sense of the term, there is undeniably a manner in which Laurence Olivier qualifies as acting royalty. It is not for nothing that Spencer Tracy once referred to Olivier as "the greatest actor in the English-speaking world". It is also important to note that Tracy refers to Olivier not as a film or theater actor specifically because much of Olivier's lofty standing derives from his ability to successfully navigate different mediums like stage, film, and television. The breadth of mediums in which he worked, the various roles he inhabited within them (actor, producer, director), and the formidable time span of his career lend Olivier's career a scope of perhaps unmatched magnitude.

©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors

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