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Gertrude Lawrence

Performer
( b. Jul 04, 1898 London, ENGLAND - d. Sep 06, 1952 New York, New York, USA ) Female
Also known as: Gertrude Alexandria Dagmar Lawrence-Klasen [Birthname]
Relations: Wife of Francis Gordon-Howley (1924 - 1927) divorced
Wife of Richard Aldrich (1940 - 1952) her death
Gertrude Lawrence captivated theatre audiences on two continents for more than twenty-five years. The story of Miss Lawrence's life begins in the English music halls, where, at the age of 4, she sold programs while her parents performed. Noel Coward, with whom she later starred, remembered her as "a vivacious child with ringlets to whom I took an instant fancy."

Audiences in later years caught the same fancy, but for different reasons. The actress exuded gaiety, a light, rippling charm seasoned with sophistication in smart drawing-room comedies or with winsome frivolity in frothy musicals. She was not noted for her singing voice or for her dancing, but she did well enough to delight her admirers, who found her the personification of style.

Her reputation reached its height in two plays that Mr. Coward wrote for her - Private Lives and Tonight at 8:30. Among her biggest successes were in Rachel Crothers' Susan and God, which ran for a season in New York and on the road, and the musical, Lady in the Dark.

Young Gertrude studied dancing under Mme. Espinosa and elocution and acting at the Italia Conti Dancing Academy, first as a pupil and then as a student-teacher. Whenever she had a spare shilling she went to the theatre. Soon she began getting small parts.

Eventually, she attained London and a chorus girl's role in one of the earlier Charlot's Revues. Charlot soon signed a three-year contract with her for £3 a week for the first year and £6 for the next two. In return for this Miss Lawrence was to dance and sing and understudy a couple of parts - one of them that of Beatrice Lillie.

Miss Lillie broke her leg and, unwittingly, started Miss Lawrence on her career, for the young understudy took over her role so successfully that she was marked by many London managers as a new and refreshing stage personality. When Miss Lillie later left the show to be married, Miss Lawrence took her part for keeps. Rave notices and a salary increase were her rewards.

In 1924, Miss Lawrence came to New York. She appeared with Miss Lillie and Jack Buchanan in another Charlot's Revue. Singing a number called "Limehouse Blues," Miss Lawrence made a hit.

For the next five years, Miss Lawrence appeared in musical comedies on both sides of the Atlantic, among them Oh, Kay! and The International Revue. The musicals were followed by her first "straight" part, in a Viennese comedy called Candlelight. She also played a serious role in Owen Davis' Icebound.

When she toured in the United States in 1935 with John Golden's production of Susan and God, the play broke attendance records in virtually every city where it appeared. Critics gave her the sort of praise previously reserved for such actresses as Helen Hayes or Katharine Cornell.

Her last big American vehicle before The King and I was Lady in the Dark, in 1941, which ran for three years and in which she acted out a "dream life" in the course of a protracted psycho-analysis.

Miss Lawrence had been starring in the musical play, The King and I, at the St. James Theater. She was admitted to the hospital on Aug. 16 after a matinee performance, at her husband's insistence. She had been in pain for the four previous days but her ailment was believed to be minor. She was buried in her pink "Shall We Dance" gown from the second act of The King and I.

Source: The New York Times obituary



Productions Date of Productions
The King and I
[Musical, Comedy, Drama, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Anna Leonowens]
Mar 29, 1951 - Mar 20, 1954
Tonight at 8:30
Fumed Oak
[Play, Comedy, One Act, Revival]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Doris Gow]
Hands Across the Sea
[Play, One Act, Satire, Revival]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Lady Maureen Gilpin]
Shadow Play
[Play, One Act, Play with music, Revival]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Victoria Gayforth]
Feb 23, 1948 - Mar 13, 1948
Tonight at 8:30
Family Album
[Play, Comedy, Play with music, One Act, Revival]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Jane]
Red Peppers
[Play, Comedy, One Act, Burlesque, Revival]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Lily Peppers]
Ways and Means
[Play, Comedy, One Act, Revival]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Stella Cartwright]
Feb 20, 1948 - Mar 13, 1948
Pygmalion
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Eliza Doolittle]
Dec 26, 1945 - Jun 01, 1946
Susan and God
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Susan Trexel]
Dec 13, 1943 - Dec 18, 1943
Lady in the Dark
[Musical, Revival]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Liza Elliott]
Feb 27, 1943 - May 15, 1943
Lady in the Dark
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Liza Elliott]
Sep 02, 1941 - May 30, 1942
Lady in the Dark
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Liza Elliott]
Jan 23, 1941 - Jun 15, 1941
Skylark
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Lydia Kenyon]
Oct 11, 1939 - May 25, 1940
Susan and God
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Susan Trexel]
Oct 07, 1937 - Closing date unknown
Tonight at 8:30
Family Album
[Play, Comedy, One Act, Play with music, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Jane]
Still Life
[Play, One Act, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Laura Jesson]
Ways and Means
[Play, Comedy, One Act, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Stella Cartwright]
Nov 30, 1936 - Closing date unknown
Tonight at 8:30
Fumed Oak
[Play, Comedy, One Act, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Doris Gow]
Shadow Play
[Play, One Act, Play with music, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Victoria Gayforth]
We Were Dancing
[Play, Comedy, One Act, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Louise Charteris]
Nov 27, 1936 - Closing date unknown
Tonight at 8:30
Hands Across the Sea
[Play, Satire, One Act, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Lady Maureen Gilpin]
The Astonished Heart
[Play, One Act, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Leonora Vail]
Red Peppers
[Play, Comedy, One Act, Burlesque, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Lily Peppers]
Nov 24, 1936 - Closing date unknown
Private Lives
[Play, Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Amanda Prynne]
Jan 27, 1931 - Sep 1931
The International Review
[Musical, Revue, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence
Feb 25, 1930 - May 17, 1930
Candle Light
[Play, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Marie]
Sep 30, 1929 - Jan 1930
Treasure Girl
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence [Ann Wainwright]
Nov 08, 1928 - Jan 05, 1929
Oh, Kay!
[Musical, Comedy, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence [Kay]
Nov 08, 1926 - Jun 1927
Charlot Revue
[Musical, Revue, Original]
  • Starring: Gertrude Lawrence ["How D'You Do?" Performer, "Let's All Go Raving Mad" Performer, Baby Girl, "Carrie!" Performer, Fabia, "A Cup of Coffee" Performer, "Russian Blues" Performer, Daisy]
Nov 10, 1925 - Mar 06, 1926
Andre Charlot's Revue of 1924
[Musical, Revue, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence
Jan 09, 1924 - Sep 20, 1924
Special Events Date of Special Events
Gratefully Yours
[Special, Benefit, Original]
  • Performer: Gertrude Lawrence
Apr 07, 1942 - Apr 12, 1942
1952 Tony Award® Best Actress in a Musical
winnerThe King and I [winner]
Starring: Gertrude Lawrence
Find out where Gertrude Lawrence and are credited together