Starstruck Queenslanders harass the Oliviers (1948)
By Myles Sinnamon, Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland | 9 January 2017
On June 20, 1948, film stars Sir Laurence Olivier and his wife Vivien Leigh flew in to Archerfield aerodrome in Brisbane's south. The famous couple were touring Australia as lead players with England's The Old Vic theatre company. After the strain of rehearsals and performances down south, the Oliviers decided to take a short break in Queensland where they hoped locals would respect their privacy - they were wrong.
When the couple arrived at the aerodrome, there was a crowd of 500 fans (and press) ready to greet them.
"Here is your first gift from Queensland," gushed a young lady (pictured) as she presented Sir Laurence with "two fine pineapples". Within minutes of arriving, the Oliviers jumped into a waiting car and proceeded south to Surfers Paradise.
To their dismay, they found 200 people outside their hotel awaiting their arrival.
By the next day they'd had enough of the constant fan vigil and decided to flee their hotel. They called Brisbane "theatrical friend" Bob Geraghty for help. Geraghty later told the press: "Larry called me ... and said, 'Bob, you speak our language. Where is nobody?' " He suggested a private house on Cannes Ave, Surfers Paradise, "with pleasant river views", which the couple liked.
On June 27, Olivier and Leigh returned to Archerfield and gave 200 "well-wishers" the slip by hiding in the aircraft hangar until their flight was ready.
One letter to the editor attempted to atone for Queenslanders' unusual starstruck behaviour: "We are really a very kindly people, and I should like to assure Sir and Lady Olivier that we do not bite or attack strangers, even if we are so rude as to stare at them."
Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland
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