Open that properly chilled champagne and elegantly raise a glass to Noel Coward. This birthday gentleman was born today, December 16, in 1899. In the years to come he would embody the essence of a style and time where wit wafted like cigarette smoke and everyone dressed for dinner.
Upon making his Broadway debut in 1925 in his own The Vortex, Variety dubbed him "the English George M. Cohan."
Among Coward's numerous credits are plays -- many of which he acted in -- such as Design for Living, Present Laughter, Blithe Spirit, Private Lives, Nude With Violin, Sail Away and Suite In Three Keys. Producer Alexander H. Cohen has expressed to produce a lesser-known Coward play on Broadway next season, to coincide with the playwright's centennial.
His film scripts include Brief Encounter and This Happy Breed. Prior to his death in 1973, he also penned more than 500 songs, including "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and "Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthtington."
Fortunately Mrs. Coward did.
-- by Anne Bradley