27 November 2011

that's LIFE: doing her bit

"After weeks of more or less patient waiting, repeated timid, pleading, urgent, and finally importunate requests to the authorities who rule such matters in Washington and London, and a rapid-fire barrage of telegrams, cables, and telephone calls, it had happened. At last I had permission to do what I had been wanting desperately to do for four years—go to England and do my bit on a tour for E.N.S.A.(Entertainments National Service Association)" -Gertrude Lawrence, from her 1945 memoir A Star Danced.

Just hours after landing,Gertrude Lawrence entertained British and American troops who,as it turned out, were deployed for the imminent D-Day invasion at Normandy.

from her husband Richard Aldrich's biography of Lawrence:
 She went over with the first E.N.S.A. unit to go into France, making the crossing in an LST (Landing Ship, Tank). Others in the party included Ivor Novello, Margaret Rutherford, Diana Wynyard and Bobbie Andrews. In her autobiography, A Star Danced, she has given a graphic account of their landing on Normandy Beach and of the progress of her unit through the wrecked towns, where there was still no water or electricity. Shows were given in shell-torn movie houses and hastily lighted casinos.
The physical discomforts -- the sleeping in attics, the total lack of sanitation, the scanty and poor food -- Gertrude could and did take as fortunes of war.



  1. A Star Danced must be a remarkable Memoir. Thank you for the recommendation, Gaye.


    Art by Karena

  2. How wonderful of you to mention Gertrude Lawrence and "A Star Danced". It is a wonderful, charming memoir.

    Anyone interested in G. should also look at "Gertrude Lawrence as Mrs. A.", by her husband Richard Aldrich.

    It is even more delightful and better yet...more detailed (and...ahem...possibly more accurate) in terms of her career development. Lovely photographs as well.

    Am lucky enough to have found, during my travels, first editions of both.

    These two books make for fascinating "comparison reading" about a magnetic and extraordinarily talented woman.

    Thanks so much for a lovely post.




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