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Laurence Olivier Centenary Birthday

Tuesday, 29th May 2007

Laurence Olivier Centenary Birthday

The family of Lord Olivier, one of Britain's greatest actors, was joined by a star-studded cast for a wreathlaying to mark the centenary of his birth.

Lady Olivier, the actress Joan Plowright, was joined by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for a short ceremony led by the Dean, the Very Reverend John Hall. Alli and Troy Olivier, the children of Richard Olivier, laid a wreath in memory of their grandfather who, as Laurence Olivier, won acclaim as a Shakespearian actor and also received four Oscars and 14 Oscar nominations for his work in films.

Writer and barrister Sir John Mortimer paid tribute and the actor Gawn Grainger read a passage written by Bernard Levin in 1989.

The 16-strong Olivier family gathering was joined by a distinguished cast of actors including Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Diana Rigg, Jeremy Irons and Frank Finlay, as well as the novelist Edna O'Brien. In addition to his stage and film work, Lord Olivier was the founding director of the Chichester Festival Theatre and of the National Theatre, for which he received his life peerage. He was knighted in 1947 and created a life peer in 1970 as Baron Olivier of Brighton in the County of Sussex, the first actor to be accorded this distinction. He was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1981.

Lord Olivier died in 1989 and the green slate stone which covers his ashes under Shakespeare's gaze in Poets' Corner was unveiled in 1991 by another great Shakespearian actor Sir John Gielgud.

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