- (Gertrud Alexandra Daymar Lawrence Klasen; 1898 - 1952)British actress, famous chiefly for her appearances in plays and revuesby her friend Noël Coward. The daughter of a Britishactress and a Danish music hall singer, she made her debut in DickWhittington at the age of 12. Her first successful appearancewas in Coward's revue London Calling (1923). She subsequentlyworked closely with Coward, with whom she enjoyed a curious love-haterelationship. It was for her that he wrote the part of Amanda in PrivateLives (1930), in which she played opposite Coward when it opened.Her Broadway appearances included roles in Pygmalion (1945)and The King and I (1951).
In 1965, thirteen years after her death, the biopic Starappeared with Julie Andrews playing Gertrude. Coward commented inhis diary:...about as suitable as casting the late Princess Royalas Dubarry [the mistress of Louis XV]...Why they are doingthe film I shall never know. There isn't any real story beyond thefact that she started going in the theater, became an understudy,then a star, lived with Philip Astley, Bert Taylor, etc., marriedRichard Aldrich, and died.On the day after her marriage to Aldrich, a US theater manager,Coward sent her a cable reading:Dear Mrs A. Hurray, hurray. At last you are deflowered.On this as every other day, I love you, Noël Coward.