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Edmonton Journal (01/Aug/1990) - Film and stage actress was first of Olivier's wives



Film and stage actress was first of Olivier's wives

Jill Esmond, the film and stage actress and first of the late actor Laurence Olivier's three wives, died Saturday at age 82.

Esmond made her London stage debut in December 1922, playing Nibs in Peter Pan. She met Olivier in June 1928 when she was playing in Bird in Hand and he joined the cast. They went to the United States, where they both made their Broadway debut in 1929, she in Bird in Hand and Olivier in Murder on the Second Floor.

She made her movie debut in 1930 in The Chinese Bungalow. She married Olivier that year.

In 1932, Esmond appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Skin Game. At this stage, she was a far bigger star than Olivier.

At the end of 1935, she became pregnant. But on the very night she and Olivier were celebrating this, he met actress Vivien Leigh, whom he would later marry.

A son, Tarquin, was born in 1936, but the marriage soon broke down and they divorced in 1940.

Esmond made her last stage appearance in Party Manners in 1950, and her movie career ended in 1955. She never remarried.