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A Wedding Gift – From Katharine Hepburn to Vivien Leigh

What would you buy a couple of A-list stars such as Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier to celebrate their wedding day?

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VIVIEN LEIGH AND LAURENCE OLIVIER.

In Katharine Hepburn’s case it was an inscribed silver goblet by Georg Jensen, which features in the upcoming Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection sale in London on 26 September.

It’s believed Hepburn’s gift may have been chosen as a thoughtful nod to Vivien and Larry’s Old Vic production of Hamlet in the courtyard of Kronborg Castle at Elsinsore in Denmark three years earlier. And the goblet is an elegant memento of what appears to have been a rather chaotic day.

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GEORG JENSEN, THE HEPBURN WEDDING GOBLET. ESTIMATE £8,000–12,000.

Katharine Hepburn was one of only four guests at the wedding, which took place on 31 August 1940 at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, owned by the actor Ronald Coleman and his wife Benita.

The marriage took place in secret and Hepburn was later described as a ‘snappy maid of honour’ by the screenwriter Garson Kanin, who she was dating at the time.

The actress was responsible for driving Leigh and Olivier to the wedding - and the journey descended into mayhem when they got lost en route. Recalling it years later, Kanin said: “They [Vivien and Larry] started quarrelling rather bitterly. She was sharp-tongued, Larry was tough as hell. They were scrapping all the way…”

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GEORG JENSEN, THE HEPBURN WEDDING GOBLET. ESTIMATE £8,000–12,000.

The ceremony itself lasted only three minutes, presided over by an ‘absolutely potted’ municipal judge who had succumbed to an offer of alcohol to prevent him from returning home when the wedding party were running late.

Katharine Hepburn later said of her famous friend: “What to say… Vivien, dear Vivien… exquisite actress, thoughtful, fearless, gracious, and enormously kind…  A lovely little pink cloud floating through the lives of all her friends, hovering over the setting sun, and thinking of everyone but herself.”

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A GOLD RING INSCRIBED 'LAURENCE OLIVIER VIVIEN ETERNALLY'. ESTIMATE £400–600.

Other highlights featured in the sale include a gold ring inscribed ‘Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally’ and a diary belonging to the actress where she writes about her decision to leave her husband Leigh Holman for Olivier.

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection sale is in London on 26 September.

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