Theater Week
July 24 1989

images and text from Theater Week Magazine 7/24/89 thanks to Grace

Laurence Olivier Remembered

"Olivier was a great actor, but more important he was the cause of greatness in others. His unique contribution to the formation of the English National Theater, and his help in formulating an English Classic Tradition, will live long after his stage performances which are nothing but old reviews and faded photographs. His classic movies simply remind us of great acting of a lost time and earlier style. The tradition he helped laid down will, however, surely endures' - Clive Barnes

"Olivier's death is a great loss to the theater: He was a real gentleman and I feel this is a great tragedy. -James Nederlander

"When I was young, I used to queue at the theater early in the morning to see Olivier. His performances were electrifying...I admired their originality and courage...and their terror. There is no acting like it today. He made me want to become part of the theater. --Peter Shaffer

"He was the greatest actor of our time because he understood the power·of transformation-transformation from role to role, from medium to medium, and from one generation's style to another's. He was a nobleman of the stage, teaching us respect for acting and for the great plays of the past. He will be sorely missed"--Robert Brustein

"Laurence Olivier was the rare actor--one is tempted to say the unique one--who could do almost any part in any medium, and do it unforgettably. Better yet, he never repeated himself, and always went into his role. If you recognized him in certain parts, it was only because you had read his name in the program or because you knew that nobody else could have done the thing so well"-John Simon

"What I shall remember most about Laurence Olivier is the breadth of his humanity, and I don't mean that in a sentimental way. All his great performances were rooted in some naked aspect of his protean self. He was an incomparable Henry V because that was exactly the way he led a company, at the front of his army taking most of the risks. Equally, he was not beyond occasionally running an outfit like Richard III. In person, he could be as noble as Hamlet or as vulgar as Archie Rice. You never quite knew which Olivier you were going to get; there were so many of them. I knew him first as a young, dumbfounded fan when he visited Australia with the Old Vic in the late 40s, then as a follow actor in his soaring performances of Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus, finally as one of his directors at the National Theater. All these encounters left me not merely enriched but with an altered life. There are innumerable theater people who can say the same.' -- Michael Blakemore

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