The 231163 Diaries:
Noel Coward.

Theatre By 1963, Noel Coward was writing and directing shows for Broadway with The Girl Who Came to Supper running for three months in December.  

His 24th November entry describes events from the day before and also how they've impacted on the creative process, forcing him to drop one of the songs and into writing a replacement.  

When Coward himself later released a recording of songs from the show, he included Long Live the King amongst others.

Sunday 24 November


The most horrible and incredible catastrophe. On Friday President Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas, Texas, by a young man of twenty-four called Oswald apparently. Oswald himself was shot this morning while he was being transferred from one prison to another. The whole country is in a state of deep shock. Mrs Kennedy, who was with the President in the car when he died, has behaved throughout with dignity, grace and magnificent self-control. I watched her today on television accompanying the President's body from the White House to the Capitol and was moved to tears. The shooting of the suspected murderer by an exhibitionistic night-club proprietor is too idiotic to be believed. That the Dallas police should have allowed it to happen is so stupid that the brain reels. Now it will never be satisfactorily proved whether Oswald shot the President or not, and there will be a jungle of rumours.

I came back yesterday from Jamaica. Having had an urgent cable from Herman on Friday (before I knew of the assassination), I decided to come on Sunday because Joe is still in hospital and there is no one to command the ship. The moment I heard of the President's death - Friday afternoon - I decided to come yesterday. Coley and I made all arrangements and left Boscobel airstrip at ten o'clock - then Miami - then Newark - then New York. My apartment is still a shambles so I changed clothes, visited Joe, who is better, dined at the Drake Room and drove directly here.

I am now faced with the task of writing a new number - comedy - for Jo Ferrer because 'Long Live the King' had, of course, to be cut immediately as it deals exclusively with assassination. This is a dreadful job. I am genuinely upset over the President's death and the whole atmosphere is quivering. Hardly conducive to writing frivolous lyrics and music. However, I must go on trying. We are giving a performance tonight as there is to be a day of mourning tomorrow and nothing will be open. It is impossible to evade the general feeling of shock. It seems so desolately wasteful that a virile man in the prime of his life, to whom the whole world was looking for leadership and who, incidentally, was doing a gallant job of it, should be wiped out of life by the action of a zany delinquent with Communist tendencies. I feel that I am living through too much history and that my own life is becoming more and more hectic. However, I feel all right so far. Now I have to take charge, write the bloody song, rehearse the company and get on with the job. Still, I had a week in Jamaica and shall get some more over Christmas.

[From: PAYN, Graham (Ed). 2000. The Noel Coward Diaries. Da Capo Press.]

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