Gertrude Lawrence was born in London to a family of entertainers and began performing in musical theater at the age of 10. She worked as a chorus girl through her teens and in 1920 began performing on the British cabaret circuit. She went on to become a leading actress of the first half of the 20th century on the London and Broadway stage. She frequently appeared opposite her childhood friend Noel Coward, originating the role of Amanda in Noel Coward’s Private Lives in 1931. She starred in the popular 1926 Gershwin musical Oh Kay, and her recording of Someone to Watch Over Me from that show became a hit record in the U.S. Her film credits include the role of Amanda Wingfield in the film version of The Glass Menagerie (1950). In 1949, she approached Rodgers & Hammerstein with the idea of creating a musical around the Margaret Landon book Anna and the King of Siam. She starred with Yul Brynner in the resulting Broadway production of The King and I, winning the Tony award for Best Actress in 1952. She died soon after, and was buried in one her costumes from that show. Lawrence’s life was dramatized in the 1969 movie Star! starring Julie Andrews.
Provenance (as written on back of frame): Mrs. David Holtzmann. Sondra Holtzmann was the wife of Gertrude Lawrence’s attorney David Holtzmann, a theatrical attorney with the firm of Holtzmann & Holtzmann in New York City. After Lawrence’s death in the 1950s, the Holtzmanns purchased the Cape Cod Melody Tent from Lawrence’s producer husband, Richard Aldrich, and Sondra Holtzmann continued to run the theater into the 1970s.
Chapman, Mark. E-mail to the George Glazer Gallery. 9 November 2006.
“Gertrude Lawrence: Biography.” MSN Entertainment. http://entertainment.msn.com/artist/?artist=140876 (13 September 2004).