I have received Jean Claude van Itallie’s permission to reprint his letter about my article about Noel Coward. I hope you will print it in the letters section of the October edition. Thank you, Robert Heide
Jean-Claude Van Itallie writes:
Enjoyed your Noel Coward revue.
Coward was a hero of mine, a role model. I memorized many of his lyrics as I and my roommate Roger Klein played them over and over again on the phonograph in our Kirkland House living room at Harvard 1955-58. Still remember quite a few lyrics.
Never met Sir Noel, alas. Wish I had been, like you, at Edward’s party for him and Gielgud.
I did, while at Harvard, dance with Sir John at a party Bryant Haliday threw for him at his house on Brattle Street.
Years later Michael Smith and I were here at Shantigar. I was throwing out an old upright piano, so it was sitting on the front lawn. One sunny afternoon Michael played all the Noel Coward sheet music I had (a lot!) on it, while I sang the lyrics. Michael plays beautifully. I alas, sing only indifferently but with gusto. It was a marvelous afternoon. So I grabbed a pen and wrote a fan letter to Coward about it. Within ten days, as I remember, in an elegant large brown envelope from Switzerland, I had a charming letter back from Coward. I have it framed here still. Plus, as he wrote, Sir Noel followed his instinct and sent me too an autographed photo of himself sitting on a bench in the garden of his house in Les Avants, sweater elegantly draped over shoulders, cigarette holder in hand. The photo sits proudly on the 1926 grand piano in my living room.