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The Noel Coward Diaries Hardcover – September 1, 1982
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From Library Journal
Coward's diaries from 1941 to 1969 offer an intimate look at the last 30 years of the life of the popular, sophisticated British playwright and author. While some of the entries are of the "Stayed out until 4 at Mrs. B___'s party" variety, more of them give insight into Coward's well-connected life. Coward knew or met hundreds of people working in the theater, the movies, and the government, and encounters with Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, King George IV, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother, to name just a few, are included here. Excellent footnotes provided by editors Morley and Payn (My Life with Noel Coward) give a one-sentence description of such notables as "Larry" (Laurence Olivier) and "Dickie" (Lord Louis Mountbatten). Coward wrote these diaries with an eye toward publishing and therefore seemed to take great care to write, if not kindly about everyone, then perhaps not as harshly as he could have. Still, there are enough juicy tidbits to satisfy any biography-reading seeker of stars, starlets, and royalty. A thorough index enhances star browsing. For public libraries. J. Sara Paulk, Coastal Plain Reg. Lib., Tifton, GA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"Compulsive reading: a very clear portrait. What Coward has to say about other people is light-hearted, witty, often shrewd, totally without malice ....His final entertainment for everyone's pleasure is these diaries." -- Sunday Times, London
"Through the pages glitters a galaxy of names that keep the editors footnoting like mad and the stagestruck reader wallowing in stardust....A theatrical compendium of the times." -- Christian Science Monitor --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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It is apparent reading his diaries- with the fascinating details of the processes- that to him, creating his musicals, his poetry and novels and his plays gave a joy to him in the making. Producing, directing and dealing with the vagaries of his stars and casts was another kettle of fish. He records them all, at their best and worst; most of them had been his friends for years. Reading about his work and weekly social calendars is enough to exhaust the reader; he rarely refused an invitation, and was usually working on a piece at the same time.
He records the joy and progress that he and his close associates made through the world, literally, seeking the perfect house, actually houses, to relax in; eventually, to find the home locales that gave him tax relief from the harsh British tax climate.
It was enchanting to learn he presented the first "special" in color, in the U.S., nationally broadcast in 1955, starring Noel with Mary Martin. Both sang their popular numbers and performed some skits, for 90 minutes, a record in those days. Noel had to restage all the camera work before the performance which was live. The crew had "no idea how to film musical theatre before a camera." The national audience response was ecstatic for this "little box" show of Big Talent. All the reports said they were hungry for the witty, sophisticated & purely lovely talented singers, bright romantic songs and dances. It is sad to realize the public is still waiting for this kind of quality entertainment from television today. 690pp.