Gertrude Lawrence

(1898—1952) actress

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference


British actress, best known for her performances in Noël Coward's plays.

Gertrude Lawrence was born in London into a theatrical family: her mother was a small-part actress and her Danish father was a music-hall singer. After making her stage debut in Dick Whittington at Brixton in 1910 she toured in musicals for several years. She first met Noël Coward in 1913 and her first success came in Coward's revue London Calling (1923). She subsequently appeared in other revues and in plays before her outstanding performance opposite Coward in Private Lives (1930) as Amanda, a part Coward wrote especially for her. This was followed by appearances in other Coward plays, notably Tonight at 8.30 (1936). Many of Gertrude Lawrence's London productions were repeated in the USA, where she toured in Susan and God (1937) and appeared in New York in Lady in the Dark (1941) and Shaw's Pygmalion (1945). During World War II she entertained troops in Europe and the Pacific and in 1948 starred in the London production of Daphne du Maurier's September Tide (1948). Lawrence was married twice, first (1917) to playwright and producer Francis Howley, by whom she had a daughter, and then (1940) to American producer and manager Richard Aldrich.

She made a handful of films (1929–50), the best being The Glass Menagerie (1950), and gave her last performance in New York in the musical The King and I (1951).

Subjects: Music — Theatre.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.