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My Life with Noel Coward (Applause Books) Paperback – February 1, 2000
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Graham Payn first met Noel Coward at age 13, when he auditioned for the playwright by tap dancing while singing "Nearer My God to Thee." He became Coward's longtime companion. So perhaps Payn knew better than anyone the personal side of Noel Coward, whose public personae had the trappings of an enchanted life but whose private life has been more difficult to capture. "His manner created distance between himself and those who would approach him." Payn says. This biography helps give a portrait of the playwright and tells of his vast accomplishments. The book should help keep Coward's work alive. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Payn, who performed as an actor and singer in several Coward plays, lived with the playwright as part of his extended family for 30 years and now administers his estate. Written with Barry Day, an advertising executive, this effusively affectionate memoir of Coward (1899-1973), best known for his sophisticated comedies (Blithe Spirit, Private Lives), is a giddily gossipy account of the luminary's long theatrical career and glittering social life. Renowned actors-Beatrice Lillie, Gertrude Lawrence, Laurence Olivier and Lunt and Fontaine-performed in Coward plays and were also friendly with Payn. Drawing on Coward's diaries and his own recollections, Payn reveals some unflattering details and settles a few scores (e.g., Rex Harrison was tiresome offstage, and Beatrice Lillie forgot her lines). The memoir includes a transcript of a 1961 conversation between Coward and Judy Garland, as well as previously unpublished essays by Coward on the theater. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It is a generous book; Mr. Payn shares with the reader all of the real stuff of knowing Noel Coward so well and for so long. He does not share intimate details of their relationship, but does share his deep love of the man himself. In short, Coward himself was a man who treasured good taste and true sentiment -- and it is fitting that his life-partner should offer this book in his honor.
What a fine piece of theater history and so very readable!