Laurence Olivier

Deemed by many as the best actor of his era, Laurence Olivier was born May 22, 1907, in Dorking, England. He began acting in his teens and in 1930 got his first big break in Noel Coward's play "Private Lives"; Olivier became a full-blown star after landing the lead in a 1935 staging of "Romeo and Juliet."

In 1939, Olivier earned an Oscar nomination for his first major American film, Wuthering Heights. He followed up with skillful efforts in Rebecca (1940) and Pride and Prejudice (also 1940). The classical thespian reached his zenith in 1948 when he directed his Oscar-winning performance in Hamlet. Richard III (1955) brought another Oscar nod, and Olivier's supporting turn in Marathon Man (1976) garnered a Golden Globe.

Olivier won five Emmys for his TV work, the last for a 1983 production of "King Lear." He passed away July 11, 1989, from complications of a neuromuscular disorder.