On May 22nd, 2019 the World of Entertainment paid their respects to Sir Laurence Olivier on his one hundred and twenty-third birthday.
For years, as I was growing up, with my parents, I became interested in the Motion Picture Industry and the great films that came out of Hollywood and those of England and Europe.
In 1939 ( I was only nine years old) “Wuthering Heights” was made. When I was eighteen, I was just going into the Drama Department at Los Angeles City and State College, and our Dean Jerry Blunt was a film buff. He introduced us to numerous actors and actress, especially those from England. One of them was Laurence Olivier. He spoke about his great performances, both on the stage and in the films. Blunt spoke about Olivier’s first major film, “Wuthering Heights,” that also starred Meryl Oberon and David Niven.
Olivier received four Academy Awards: an honorary award for Henry V (1947), a Best Actor award and one as producer for Hamlet (1948), and a second honorary award in 1979 to recognise his lifetime of contribution to the art of film. He was nominated for Best Actor for “Wuthering Heights”, the 1940 production of “Rebecca”, “Richard III”, “The Entertainer”, “Othello”, “Slueth”, “Marathon Man” and “The Boys From Brazil”.
Olivier received at total of thirteen Academy Award nominations, not to mention the numerous Awards and nominations from B.A.F.T.A
In the years that followed, I think I saw most of his films and several of his plays in England, including the Wild Butler in “A Flea in Her Ear” and most importantly, “The Merchant of Venice”. In 1973, my wife, Carolyn and I were invited to attend the opening by Jonathan Miller, the director of this stunning production, brought up to date to the late 1800’s. We even had the pleasure of being taken to Olivier’s dressing room by Mr.Miller after the play and had a most memorable chat with one of our greatest living actors of that time.
Going back to “Wuthering Heights”, I must have seen this classic films four or five times in the following years, but it wasn’t until 1971, that one of our Movie Channel’s was running “Wuthering Heights” all week long and I found myself glued to my set.
I found myself compelled to write to Sir Laurence, not knowing if my letter, which I sent to him at the National Theatre in London would get to him, and that his brilliant, and yes, even evil performance, will long be remembered. Needless to say, I was stunned and lost for words, when I received this charming and rather unique note from Sir Laurence Oliver dated October 11th, 1971, that I wanted to share with you.
Budd Burton Moss