20 January 2011

Noel and Marlene, 1973

Marlene accompanied Noel Coward to the New York premiere of "Oh Coward" in January 1973. It was Coward's final public appearance. Earl Wilson's column reporting the event is reproduced below.


Earl Wilson, 18 January 1973

NEW YORK, N.Y – Marlene Dietrich’s greatest performance as a modern Florence Nightingale is one that only a few of us saw.

Thare are many sharpshooters out after the glamorous grandma or great-grandma-to-be but when she assisted an aging, stooped, arthritic Si r Noel Coward, now 73 to her reported 71, up and down difficult stairs at the “Oh Coward” night at the New Theater and party at the Trattoria, we had to admit that Marlene was at her best and not seeking publicity.

In fact, at the Trattoria, she told one press lady, "I’m not speaking to you anymore." The press lady said, “You’ve just done me a big favor."

But there was Marlene in a pinkish lame gown (Chanel) actually helping hoist Sir Noel to his seat and saying to him, “It’s all going to be all right, we have made it this far, dear love”.

Sir Noel smoked his cigaret and fanned his flowing pocket handkerchief. Marlene backed away into brick wall and allowed busty Arlene Dahl, wearing something new in bosoms, to get into the pictures. Arlene said that her long dress became entangled on the seat and she told Sir Noel, “I may be on your lap.” H replied, “Don’t worry. I’m very broad-minded.”

As Sir Noel kissed and otherwise saluted the stars who came to the show in his honor, and to the party, one got to wondering whether he was arthritic or just liked to be petted by Anita Loos, Helen Hayes, Ethel Merman, Joan Sutherland, Glynis Johns, Celeste Holm, Phyllis Newman, Myrna Loy, and some others.

A fan came up and said to Marlene, “I saw you on TV. You were beautiful.”

“I hope so,” Marlene said. “But you should see me on the stage.” A shrug said that the real Marlene could only be seen in person.

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