February 19, 1965. Vivien Leigh has just returned home to London after filming ‘The Ship of Fools’, which has taken place in the United States. One calm and cold afternoon that month, a young woman from Barcelona, who had previously corresponded with her, visits her at her home. For the young woman Elvira Clara Bonet (That’s the name of the twenty-year-old), who barely speaks English at the time and goes with a friend who acts as a translator, that is one of the most important moments of her life. Courtesy, tea and a very special gift mark the evening.
From that day on, Miss Bonet (that’s what the unforgettable Scarlet O’Hara) Y Vivien Leigh They begin a friendship that will continue over the years through the actress’s family, once she dies in 1967.
This Wednesday, the house Setdart auction a collection of personal belongings of the actress, belongings accumulated by Elvira for years. Because, more than a fan, she was a kind of friend in the distance for an actress who lived the consequences of a misdiagnosed bipolarity, tuberculosis (which took her to the grave when she was just 53 years old) and a cursed beauty. In that list of objects are from the diary that Leigh used the year of his death, with annotations in blue ink of his own hand as “mom’s birthday” or “Dinner with Bill ‘, as well as entries that give information about the last year of his life. Also a series of personal photographs of the actress with her great love, Laurence olivier, with whom she was married for twenty years. In some of them you can see the couple swimming naked.
Elvira herself tells Vanitatis that she is very surprised that these nudes have been the most sought-after objects (their value is estimated at around 7,500 euros) of the entire collection that she has put up for auction. “What intrigued me the most is that some media published, full-page, saying ‘Vivien Leigh naked’. This hurt my soul, I immediately called the auction house. They were cured in health and said they had an obligation to send it to all the media, “he says. The admirer and friend admits that she has gotten rid of “very dear” objects and “out of necessity” after the injury to an arm that caused her to have to resort to paying people to take care of her at home. “Many people have not understood why I got rid of these objects, but the truth is that I have had a very difficult year”, He points out.
“I loved her very much because I got to know her. I met her mother, her daughter, her grandchildren and even great-great-granddaughters, which would already have to be alive. They are the daughters of Rupert, the grandson with whom I have the most friendship ”, he says about that epistolary relationship that he later continued with the descendants of the star of ‘A streetcar named desire. All those who have bid for days, through the Sedtart page, can get all kinds of relics this Wednesday, from Leigh’s personal lighter (valued at about 150 euros) to an umbrella that was part of the props of one of the sequences removed from ‘Gone with the Wind’ (valued at around 3,000 euros).
A missing locket
Elvira has already shed objects and souvenirs that were part of a personal museum that, for years, has been the protagonist of numerous press and television reports. What worries her most these days has to do with one of the gifts she gave Leigh herself on the first of her two visits. “I would like to know where the solid gold medallion is, from the house Thomas Colomer, which I gave her and she told me she would use a pendentif. He told me that if someone asked him about it, he would say it was from an admiring friend from Barcelona. I gave it to him for the 25th anniversary of ‘Gone with the wind’ and it said ‘Gone with the wind’, 1939-1964 ‘, and on the back, ‘Tu Scarlett O’Hara from EC Bonet. I don’t want to get it back for myself, but if someone has it I would like them to take care of it with affection and contact me. Not even the family knows what happened to this locket. I would hand it over to the Victoria and Albert in London”, He tells us.
The truth is that the memory of that afternoon in which she met the myth is still very present in Elvira, who remembers every minute detail of Leigh. It seemed “petite” and somewhat different from the star he had seen on the big screen, although that did not diminish his admiration for her. The Catalan even prepared a letter for the actress to read. The protagonist of ‘Gone with the wind’ was moved by so many years of loyal admiration. “Vivien insisted on speaking to me slowly so that I would understand her. He got emotional and I saw in his eyes that he was swallowing hard to keep from crying. That letter my friend read to her in English is in the Victoria and Albert ”.
Elvira was even fortunate to be invited, by the indelible Scarlet’s own family, to the memorial that was celebrated in her honor on August 15, 1967, shortly after her death. “I saw her twice and when she died I was invited to her funeral at San Martin in the Fields. I had received her last letter on July 7, 67. She told me that she had to stay in bed for three months, but that as soon as she was well she would do a new play, an adaptation of ‘A delicate balance’. She did not speak Spanish but did speak French, German and Italian. He was a unique person, with great talent and infinite courtesy. I will always carry her in my heart“Says Elvira excitedly.
For this reason, this auction is something so personal for Bonet, who recovers in her home in Barcelona from a “very difficult” year and hopes that, after the auction, she will continue to take into account that she has been, for decades, the curator of much of the sentimental memory of a great myth in film history. He also wants to know what happened to that medallion that, over the years, has become a lost treasure, in the last memory of those letters and those two visits to London that marked his life forever. Memories that even the wind will never be able to take away.