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Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 15:35 GMT
Redgrave's tribute to Coward
Vanessa Redgrave holds fond memories of Coward's kindness
Actress Vanessa Redgrave paid tribute to the legendary Noel Coward whilst laying flowers beside his statue in London as part of the events to mark the centenary of his birth.

The 62-year-old star, whose father Michael was a great friend of the playwright, recalled fond memories as she took part in the ceremony outside the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

She told how Coward, who was a frequent visitor to the Redgrave family home, always showed great kindness to her as both a child and an aspiring young stage star.

Noel Coward was a close family friend
"In my first part for a London play he came to my dressing room and said to me something that I remember in all those bad times that you feel lacking in confidence or lose your way," she said.

She wouldn't reveal Coward's exact words to her but continued: "I longed to hear what he said.

"He gave me a look and I saw in his eyes that all he cared about was truth and kindness. I think that's a wonderful thing and that is why I am here to celebrate."

The flower-laying ceremony - on the day that would have been Coward's 100th birthday - marked the culmination of a year of centenary celebrations, in the UK and US, in memory of his life and work.

Redgrave is also currently starring in one of the centenary events - a revival of Coward's play Song at Twilight at London's Gielgud Theatre.

In New York, screen legend Lauren Bacall is opening in a Broadway revival of Coward's Waiting in the Wings.

Multi-talented

Although best remembered as a playwright, Coward, who died in 1973, was also a noted songwriter, director, actor and artist.

Firefly: Coward's Caribbean retreat
Centenary events have therefore reflected the diversity of his talents, ranging from radio programmes to reissues of some of his printed works.

There has also been the launch of a new book Firefly: Noel Coward in Jamaica by Chris Salewicz.

It features previously unpublished photos from Coward's Caribbean home and the thoughts of those close to him.

While in the London district of Teddington, where Coward was born, a plaque and portrait have been unveiled in his honour.

See also:

16 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Noel Coward: 20th century icon
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