“Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania”*

*spoken by Oberon in Act 2 Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (c. 1595 or 1596).

From: Noel Coward – a Biography (1995), by Philip Hoare:

“Coward left New York on 17 November (1929) ‘in a blaze of glory’, taking the train via Chicago to Hollywood, where more parties in his honour were promised by Charlie Chaplin, Ronald Colman and Marion Davies; movie moguls had put their cars at his disposal, hoping to lure him to their studios. ‘God forbid, but I shall use the cars…’, he told his mother…He spent ten hectic days under what Scott Fitzgerald called Hollywood’s ‘anxious sunlight’. The glare seemed to induce a paranoid state; his impression was that he had been ‘whirled through all the side-shows of some gigantic Pleasure Park at breakneck speed’. Post-Bolitho, the values of the place affected and even threatened him. Hollywood was an immovable force to be resisted, its attractions too obvious and fleeting. A chaotic series of parties engulfed Coward in an all-consuming culture which claimed any celebrity for its own; he went driving down Sunset Boulevard with Gloria Swanson discussing dentistry, and played tennis at two in the morning with Charles MacArthur, under ‘artificial moonlight’, after which they dived fully clothed into a floodlit pool. Laura Hope-Crews appeared spectrally from behind a fountain, whispering, ‘Don’t be frightened dear – this – THIS – is Hollywood!’ And that was enough to induce a permanent aversion to the place.”

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