Coward, Noel, 1899-1973

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Coward, Noel, 1899-1973

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  • Coward, Sir Noël Peirce

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Dates of existence

1899-12-16 - 1973-03-26

History

Noël Coward was an English playwright and composer who is best known in the United States for his plays, musical comedies, and operettas. His writing was famous for its sharp wit and often risque subject matter.
Born in southwest London, Coward got into acting as a young child. His first official performance was in "The Goldfish" at age 11. He continued acting onstage through World War I, and began writing his own plays as well. In 1921 Coward visited the United States for the first time and, although he failed to interest any serious producers in his work at that time, took a number of lessons away from his observations of Broadway. He achieved his first real success in 1924 with "The Vortex". For the rest of the 1920s Coward was writing and producing his plays, often acting in them as well, and also performing in others' works. He worked on both sides of the Atlantic, and the Great Depression did little to slow him. He wrote, performed, and added recording his songs to his repertoire as well. Some of his better-known works are "Fallen Angels", "Hay Fever", "Private Lives", the revue "On with the Dance", and the operetta "Bitter Sweet". Coward spent much of World War II touring and entertaining Allied troops.
Compared to his early career, Coward's post-war works were only moderately successful. He became better known for his cabaret act, performing in London and then in Las Vegas in 1954 and 1955. He also had parts in several movies. However, he achieved new prominence after a wave of revivals of his plays in the 1960s and '70s, as well as revues of his significant musical repertoire. Coward's image became synonymous with 20th century English theater, an association that amused him. He referred to his renewed popularity as "Dad's Renaissance."
Coward died of heart failure at the age of 73.

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LC79071142

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