FRIENDS & CONTEMPORARIES
Names that are underlined are linked to further pages.
 
Noël Coward had friends from all walks of life. Although his carefully crafted public image was one of a sophisticated socialite and wit, he was in fact a very hard-working writer and performer. He certainly wanted to know all the 'right people' to help him establish himself and his career but he gave generously of his time to newcomers and others.
Jeffrey Amhurst Close early friend of Coward. They first met at a party held by Ned (Earl) Lathom in his Park Lane Flat. The six hours of home movies found in Charles Castle's stables were largely shot by Amhurst and Coward on their travels together abroad in the 1930s and 1950s.
Winifred Ashton (Clemence Dane) Artist, writer and close friend from the 1920's until her death in 1965.
Fred & Adele Astaire They met Coward backstage after their appearance in 'The Love Letter' in New York during his first visit there, became firm friends and, according to Tim Satchell, 'whisked them around the night clubs, explaining to each maitre d' that the Astaires were the most important people in New York, and encouraging Adele to promote him as the most famous man in England, thus ensuring a constant supply of complimentary champagne and food.
Gladys Calthrop The set designer for most of his theatrical productions and a close friend.
Joyce Carey A very close actor friend who was with him at Buckingham Palace when he became a knight.
Lesley Cole Secretary and lifelong friend.
Gladys Cooper Sheridan Morley's grandmother and a close friend of Cowards starred in 'Mrs. Tanqueray' at The Playhouse'.
Sir Anthony and Beatrice Eden (Becket) Conbservative policitian and his wife.
Edna Ferber 1887 - 1968 Author of 'Showboat' and a friend of Coward's who met him when he first went to New York in 1921.
Alfred Lunt & Lynn Fontanne Actors and close friends of Coward. He wrote 'Design for Living' for them.
John Gielgud (Sir) Coward's understudy for The Vortex who eventually took over the part. One of the finest English actors of the 20th Century who initially disliked Coward but became a good friend.
Norman Hackforth Coward's accompanist for 12 years. Click here for more information
Guy Hunting ex royal footman and assistant secretary for a short time to Cole Lesley in Les Avants.
Celia Johnson Actress and close friend who starred in two of Coward's most popular films.
Duke & Duchess of Kent Close Royal friends. The early death of the Duke recorded as a great blow to Coward.
Charles Kenyon - Actor/Manager - 1878-1952
Earl of Lathom Ned Lathom was a patron and friend of Coward whose family home was near Burscough, Lancashire at Lathom Hall and Blythe Hall. Lathom baled Coward out financially on many occasions including the famous purchase of songs he did not really want and the gift of £200 to keep away the brokers men in 1921.
Gertrude Lawrence Noel met Gertie in 1913 on a train to Liverpool where he and she were to play in Hannele. The start of a lifelong partnership that prompted Noel to write plays with her in mind. 'Private Lives' proved the ultimate vehicle for their combined talents. Her films included:
The Glass Menagerie, (1950) - Amanda Wingfield
Stage Door Canteen (1943) - Stage Door Canteen Star
Show Business at War (1943) - Herself - aka The March of Time Volume IX, Issue 10, (1943)
Men Are Not Gods (1936) - Barbara Halson
Rembrandt (1936) - Geertje Dirx
Mimi (1935) - Mimi
No Funny Business (1933) - Yvonne
Aren't We All? (1932) - Margot
Lord Camber's Ladies (1932) - Lady Camber
Battle of Paris, The (1929) - Georgie - aka The Gay Lady, (1929)
Last Musical play ' King and I' - playing Anna
Evelyn 'Boo' Laye one of Coward's most talented and glamorous leading ladies, Evelyn 'Boo' Laye, who was born 100 years ago on July 10, 1900.
Beatrice Lillie An actress and close friend of Cowards who featured in many of his plays in the 30's
Lorn Lorraine Coward's secretary and 'effectively his manager from 1924 until her death'.
James Mason and Pamela Kellino James acted in Coward plays under his direction but was famously rejected for a part in 'In Which We Serve' because of his pacifist views. Sheridan Morley says that the Masons lived fairly near to Coward at Les Avants but the two kept themselves apart. Mason also accepted the part Coward rejected of Humbert in 'Lolita' - Coward was worried about the impact on his public image.
Somerset Maugham Playwright and novelist. Sheridan Morley says that Maugham was the only playwright apart from Noel to have had four plays running simultaneously during the first half of the century. The biography of Maugham by Ted Morgan has lots of Coward references.
Kenneth More Another actor friend and Jamaican visitor.
Sheridan Morley Broadcaster, journalist and theatrical director, son of Robert Morley, the actor, friend of Coward and asked by him to write his biography.
Lord Louis and Edwina Mountbatten Without Lord Louis it is unlikely that the film 'In Which We Serve' would ever have been made.
David and Primula Niven Jamaican visitors and friends.
Ivor Novello 1893 - 1951 A theatrical colleague, 'friendly rival', and close friend for 35 years. Their first meeting is recounted in 'Present Indicative'. Biographies: Ivor Novello - A biography by James Harding, 1987, publ.Whallen ISBN 0-491-03385-0, Ivor Novello by Peter Noble with a forward by Noel Coward, 1951, publ. The Falcon Press and Ivor -The Story of an Achievement - A Biography of Ivor Novello by W. Macqueen-Pope, 1951, publ. Hutchinson. There is a Novello site at http://hometown.aol.com/Novello/index.html
Lawrence Olivier & Vivien Leigh Read 'Firefly' to find out what these two friends were doing at the poolside in Jamaica.
Graham Payn Close friend, partner, and guardian of the Noel Coward Estate since Noel Coward's death.
Michael Redgrave One of Coward's early friends who also visited him in Jamaica. Corin Redgrave talks about his father's relationship with Coward in his book ' Michael Redgrave - My Father'.
Frank Sinatra One of Coward's US friends who came to at least two notable first nights - Ace of Clubs (with Ava Gardner) and the Las Vegas cabaret.
Ginette Spanier The Directrice of the House of Balmain whose Paris home was Coward's first port of call in Paris. He wrote the introduction to her book, 'It Isn't All Mink', about her fraught passage through the war years and her post-war role with Pierre Balmain.
Philip Streatfield An artist who befriended Coward and took him on holiday to Cornwall. Little is known of their relationship but Philip Hoare in his Coward biography says - about a holiday Coward took with Streatfeild and Sydney Lomer; " It apparently did not seem odd to Violet Coward that two grown men should want her fourteen-year-old son as a companion. She was either innocent of the implications or she felt that their class made the association advantageous."
Joan Sutherland & Richard Bonynge One of Coward's neighbours at Les Avants, Switzerland. Coward guested on her album of his songs - a somehwat reedy interpretation of The Master's songs (Album details: London label, 5992 or in stereo OS 25992 released in 1966)
Laurette Taylor The model for Judith Bliss in Hay Fever
Alexander Woollcott Noel Coward called him a "caged cobra." Harpo Marx thought he looked like something that had gotten loose from a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Plump, owl-faced, acid-tongued Alexander Woollcott, one of the highest-paid critics in America by 1922, invited mockery just as he delivered it.
Monty Woolley Cole Porter is acknowledged as one of the greatest songwriters of the twentieth century. His contribution to popular music is without doubt but if were not for a lifelong friend some of his numbers may never have been written. 'Miss Otis Regrets' and 'It's de-lovely' owing their genesis, in part if not wholly, to the man some referred to as the Beard but movie audiences around the world knew as the irascible, witty, urbane curmudgeon Monty Woolley.
Esme Wynne Performed with Coward in 'Where the Rainbow Ends' and was one of his earliest close friends. In the view of some, her early success as an actress and writer created a jealousy that drove Coward to achieve in both fields.

 Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001