John Gielgud on Vivien Leigh (from Gielgud's Letters : John Gielgud in His Own Words)
“In a very bad way. She is utterly ineffective on stage—like paper, only not so thick, no substance or power—and off stage she is haunted, avid, malicious and insatiable, a bad look-out for the future and poor Larry who is saint-like with her and play-acting most beautifully as well.”
Noel Coward on Vivien (From Noel Coward's diaries):
"Vivien was in a vile temper and perfectly idiotic. Larry was bowed down with grief and despair and altogether it was a gloomy little visit.
Personally I think that if Larry had turned sharply on Vivien years ago and given her a clip in the chops, he would have been spared a mint of trouble. The seat of all this misery is our old friend, feminine ego. She is, and has been, thoroughly spoiled. She also has a sharp tongue and a bad temper. Fond as I am of her and sorry as I feel for her, I would like to give her a good belting, although now I fear it might push her over the edge and be far, far too late."
"Larry has left her, and I for one don't blame him; she is certainly barmy up to a point, but she has been so spoilt and pampered for so many years that the barminess becomes ugly and dull. For all her beauty and charm and sweetness, she has let Larry down for years and really tormented him. If he can succeed in breaking away, good luck to him. Women of Viv's temperament, looks and exigence can raise too much hell for themselves and everyone near them.
"Larry came here this evening for a heart-to-heart. He is in a bad state. He's madly in love with Joan Plowright and has had to tell Vivien. He obviously hates hurting her but is equally obviously determined not to go back to her. I am desperately sorry for her although it is mostly her own silly fault."
"Vivien is in despair about Larry leaving her. I had a long quiet session with her. She was very pathetic and perfectly sane and sweet, and I feel that the shock of Larry packing up and going may have done her a power of good. It is difficult to resist her charm and pathos when she turns them on. I cannot understand why she should be surprised at Larry popping off" after all the ghastly scenes. Personally I think he will eventually go back to her, although he swears he won't."
"Vivien has appeared in London and is busily employed in making a cracking ass of herself, as I suspected, and looks ghastly. What has driven her round the bend again is the demon alcohol; this is what it has always been. I suspect there is far less genuine mental instability about it than most people seem to think.
I went to see her 'alone' and found the flat full of people. She arrived from Notley, where she had been insulting the new owners. She was almost inarticulate with drink and spitting vitriol about everyone and everything. The next morning she called me at 8.30 and said she wanted to see me alone, and I refused flatly and said I didn't want to speak to her so long as she continued behaving like that, whereupon she said 'Oh God!' and hung up, and that's the end of that.
I have a dreadful suspicion that all this disgraceful carry-on is really a vino Veritas condition! She has always been spoilt and when she fails to get her own way she takes to the bottle and goes berserk. Of course I am fond of her and of course I am sorry for her, but however upset she may be about Larry she should control herself and behave better. It's all her own fault anyhow and I am now abysmally bored with the whole situation. It has been going on for far too long and I'll have no more of it"