ISSUE DATE: Jan. 30, 1933
Noel Coward is conceded to be the cleverest of living English dramatists. Some go further, advancing the premise that in the last hundred years only Disraeli, Wilde and Shaw have started from nothing and conquered England as Mr. Coward has conquered.
Few indeed are the aspiring playwrights who would not give their eye teeth to be in Noel Coward’s tan buckskin shoes. Aged 33, he has written or collaborated on 23 plays and musicomedies since 1920. One out of three have been huge successes. At one time he had five of his works running in London during a single season, a record equaled only by the late Edgar Wallace. A few blocks away from the Manhattan theatre housing his Design For Living, last week a cinemansion was packing in well-bred audiences who seldom stoop to cinema, to witness Cavalcade, his episodic pageant of empire not yet legitimately staged in the U, S. Further down the street the shadow of Claudette Colbert was to be seen fluttering across a screen version (Tonight is Ours) of one of Playwright Coward’s most dismal failures, The Queen Was in the Parlour. Wherever he went last year—with the possible exception of the Brazilian jungles—during an enviably carefree junket, he could hear tunes he had written for Bittersweet, and the more recent Words & Music simpering from phonographs and radios. With his own two hands, long head and (when he danced and sang for This Year of Grace in 1928-29) nimble feet and voice he has made a comfortable fortune. In London a capable and adoring staff that addresses him as “the Great White Father” handles his business for him.
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