The face of the Olivier Awards
In 1937 Laurence Olivier stepped onto The Old Vic stage for the very first time in Tyrone Guthrie’s production of Henry V. He was beginning to make his name as a film star following his appearance in Fire Over England but saw The Old Vic as a vehicle for his wish to become a Shakespearean actor:
‘My ambition required it. I required it of myself. I knew it wouldn’t happen unless I crashed that market. So I had to go on with the critics giving me bad notices, saying I couldn’t speak the verse to save my life and all that, and I just went on and on, and after about a year the Press referred to me as “that Shakespearean actor”. Then I knew it had been done.’
This inaugural performance has become a symbol of greatness in theatre and is immortalised on the Laurence Olivier Award itself in a design by sculptor Harry Franchetti featuring The Old Vic’s name.
Originally the Society of West End Theatre Awards from their inception in 1976, they were renamed the ‘Laurence Olivier Awards’ in 1984.
Image credit: Granger Historical Picture Archive / Alamy Stock Photo