Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Interracial Beauties   posted by DavidB @ 9/06/2006 12:34:00 AM

I see that Gone With the Wind actress Vivien Leigh has been voted Britain's most beautiful woman of all time.

I don't put much trust in these absurd polls (who voted? how were they chosen? were they given a list of candidates?), but just to annoy certain people I will point out that Vivien Leigh (born in Darjeeling) is generally reputed to have been Anglo-Indian - that is, of mixed British-Irish and Indian ancestry. It should be mentioned that she always denied this, attributing her dark looks to some improbable European source on her mother's side, but in those days such cover-ups were routine.

Added: I said above that Vivien is 'generally reputed' to have been Anglo-Indian. This was evidently overstating the matter. She is included on some lists of prominent Anglo-Indians, but such lists may tend to claim people as Anglo-Indian on slender or unreliable evidence. The 'official' version of Vivien's ancestry, as recorded for example on IMDB and Wiki, is that her maternal ancestry was French and Irish, and many of her admirers (fan clubs, etc) accept this as true. Her mother's family name - spelled variously as Yackje or Yackjee - does not appear to be either French or Irish, but it may well be a corrruption of some more common name. I apologise for using the word 'cover-up' in such a way as to imply that Vivien's own account was false. I was just trying to make the point that, at that time, there was strong prejudice against mixed race people, and that 'cover stories' were in fact common. They might even be insisted on by the movie studios. Reflect for the moment on the likelihood that an openly Anglo-Indian actress would have got the role of Scarlett O'Hara.

I do not claim to know the truth of the matter. I will probably look up a few biographies and see what they say.