Star Quality: The World of Noël Coward

[It] was an abstraction, a world which became his own, the world of Noël Coward… That’s a marvelous achievement, to have created your own world. – Harold Pinter regarding Coward’s work, 1983

To some he is just an image, an impeccably dapper figure permanently etched in black and white, swathed in a silk dressing gown and armed with a polished witticism for every occasion. To many he is known primarily as a playwright, the creator of such classics as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living and Blithe Spirit, and to others as the composer-lyricist of such timeless songs as “Mad About the Boy,” “I’ll See You Again,” and “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” He was also an actor, director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, poet, cabaret artist, patriot, secret agent, painter, patron of charitable causes, skillful celebrity, and warm and enduring friend.

“Star Quality: I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got it,” Noël Coward said with his inimitable style, cigarette in hand and twinkle in his eye. The Academy’s exhibition was the fourth incarnation of this touring exhibition, and in this installation the important place the movies occupied in Coward’s work has been highlighted. Although the theater was unquestionably his home and he had a love-hate relationship with Hollywood, movies fascinated Noël. He would ultimately make essential contributions to a number of Oscar-winning films, and was honored by the Academy with a Special Award for the range of different talents he brought to “In Which We Serve.”

Among other highlights, he wrote and produced “Brief Encounter,” considered one of the great British films, and gave memorable performances in movies ranging from “Our Man in Havana to his last film, “The Italian Job.”

Presented in association with the Noël Coward Foundation and the Museum of Performance & Design in San Francisco, the Academy’s installation has been guest curated by Brad Rosenstein and Rosy Runciman; the original exhibition was conceived and developed at Ten Chimneys by Erika Kent.

Exhibition Information

January 23 through April 18, 2010
The Academy’s Fourth Floor Gallery

Noël Coward on Television

In conjunction with “Star Quality: The World of Noël Coward,” the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles presented a special five-part screening series.

Producers’ Showcase: Tonight at 8:30

March 24 – 28, 12:30 p.m.

Ford Star Jubilee: This Happy Breed

March 31 – April 4, 12:30 p.m.

Cowardly Delights

April 7 – 11, 12:30 p.m.
(Small World, What’s My Line? and The Dick Cavett Show)

Camera Three: “Mad about the Boy” Noël Coward: A Celebration

April 14 – 18, 12:30 p.m.

Event Information

Wednesday, March 10–Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 12:30 p.m.
John H. Mitchell Theater
The Paley Center
465 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Paley Center for Media
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