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AuthorNoŽl Coward

NoŽl Coward was born in Teddington on 16th December 1899.

In January 1911 NoŽl made his professional debut in The Goldfish, a children?s musical, where his performance caught the attention of the great Charles Hawtrey who asked the boy actor to appear in his autumn production of The Great Name at the Prince of Wales Theatre. He went on to appear in the very first production of Where The Rainbow Ends at the Savoy Theatre. During this run, Hawtrey encouraged the children in the show to stage their own special matinees. It was at one of these that Coward discovered another talent ? in 1912 he directed 11-year old Dot Temple?s first play. From then on there was no stopping him. By 1915 Coward played his first adult role in Charley?s Aunt and had written both the music and lyrics to his first song, Forbidden Fruit. He made his cabaret debut in 1916, and by 1917 he had produced a play for the first time, Ida Collaborates by Esme Wynne. I?ll Leave It To You, Coward?s first play was produced in London?s West End in 1920 in which he played one of the juvenile leads. By 1922 his first book, A Withered Nosegay, was published and the very next year he produced his first revue, London?s Calling! starring Gertrude Lawrence. In 1929 he completed and produced Bitter-Sweet and, whilst it was playing in Manchester, he wrote Private Lives, one of his most produced plays. This premiŤred in the West End starring Coward and Gertrude Lawrence and then went on to Broadway in 1931, once again with NoŽl and Gertie. In 1932 Coward won an Oscar for Best Picture for Cavalcade, and a year later Design For Living was produced on Broadway featuring Coward and the Lunts. During 1934 he appeared in his first major film role in The Scoundrel. During World War II, Coward had a post in the Enemy Propaganda Office in Paris. Whilst working there, from September 1939 to April 1940, he sang to the troops for the war effort, a role he took up again in 1944.

In 1941, another widely produced play, Blithe Spirit, began a long run in the West End before transferring to Broadway and by the end of the year, Coward had completed In Which We Serve for which he won an Oscar for Best Production the next year, when it was premiŤred. Yet another very famous play of Coward?s - Present Laughter - was produced in the West End in 1943, along with This Happy Breed with Coward in the leading role. The following year his film Brief Encounter premiŤred. In 1948, sadly, Coward made his last appearance with Gertrude Lawrence as a replacement for Graham Payn in Tonight At 8:30. In 1951 he made his first cabaret appearance at the Cafť de Paris, London. His company, Transatlantic Productions produced their last play, Quadrille, in 1954 and in 1955 NoŽl made his television debut in Together With Music with Mary Martin. In 1958 NoŽl made his last Broadway appearances in Nude With Violin and Present Laughter and in 1966 he made his final stage appearance in his last three plays, Suite In Three Keys in the West End. In 1968 he was portrayed by Daniel Massey in a film about Gertrude Lawrence called Star! Coward?s 70th birthday the following year was celebrated with many tributes on stage, screen, television and radio, and in 1970 he was knighted. In 1972 two compilations of his work, Oh Coward! and Cowardly Custard were produced in New York and London respectively. Coward was last seen in public at a gala performance of Oh Coward!

He died on 26 March 1973 in Jamaica.

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