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Clipper America, which crash-landed at Windham Airport in June 1946.


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The Day the Stars Fell From the Sky:

The Story of the Olivier's Unplanned 1946 Visit to Eastern Connecticut
by: Tom Beardsley

Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh need little introduction. Olivier was one of the world's outstanding actors. He starred on stage in London and on Broadway, and won several Oscars for his movie work. He was also a stage and film director and producer and became famous worldwide for masterly interpretations of Shakespeare's classics. American audiences better knew him for his work in film. Olivier played Heathcliff in William Wyler's 1939 film version of Bronte's Wuthering Heights, and Maxim De Winter in David O. Selznick's 1940 classic Rebecca.

Olivier was largely known as the actor responsible for taking Shakespeare back to the masses after he joined London's Old Vic Theatre Company in 1937. This famous British Repertory Company was disbanded during the war, but it reformed in late 1944.

In the spring of 1946 the Old Vic was engaged to play New York City for six weeks, and Olivier was the star attraction. Broadway was inundated with more than 10,000 mail applications for tickets for his performances. Olivier did not disappoint and wowed the critics and audiences with his brilliant portrayals of Hotspur in Shakespeare's Henry IV, of Dr. Astov in Chekov's Uncle Vanya, and of Oedipus in W. B. Yeat's version of Sophocles. He was voted Best Actor by Variety for the 1945/46 Broadway season.

Vivien Leigh was an accomplished British actress long before she became famous as Scarlett O'Hara in Selznick's 1939 epic Gone With the Wind. She married Olivier in 1940. Four years later Leigh starred in one of her husband's productions, Thornton Wilder's Skin of Our Teeth on the London stage. Soon after she had an emotional breakdown and retired to Buckinghamshire to recuperate. In 1944 Leigh starred as Cleopatra in Gabriel Pascal's movie, Caesar & Cleopatra, a British film released in the United States in 1946. In that same year she accompanied her husband during his smash hit successes with the Old Vic on Broadway.

Vivien Leigh relaxes after her plane crash
Vivien Leigh, the famed actress who played the immortal role of Scarlett O'Hara in the 1939 movie Gone With the Wind, relaxes in the grass at Windham Airport after surviving uninjured from the Constellation air liner's crash landing.

The New York run ended in June, and Leigh traveled with her husband to La Guardia airport on the afternoon of June 18, for the journey home to England where she would resume her role on the London Stage in Skin of Our Teeth.

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