Wife Zoë Akins

Queer Places:
Eton College, Windsor SL4 6DW, Regno Unito

San Gabriel Cemetery, 601 W Roses Rd, San Gabriel, CA 91775, Stati Uniti

Hugo Cecil Levinge Rumbold[1] (7 February 1884 – 19 November 1932) was an English designer of theatrical scenery and costumes. Among those who commissioned designs from him were Sir Herbert Tree, Sir Thomas Beecham, Arthur Bourchier and Rupert D'Oyly Carte.

Rumbold was born in Stockholm, the younger son of the diplomat Sir Horace Rumbold and his second wife, Louisa Anne (d. 1940), daughter of Thomas Russell Crampton. His elder half-brother was another diplomat, also called Horace Rumbold.[2]

Rumbold went to Eton in 1897. He served in the Second Boer War and the First World War. During the latter he served in the Grenadier Guards; he was wounded and received the Order of the Crown (Belgium). In civilian life, he was sometimes referred to by his military title of Captain H. C. L. Rumbold.[3]

As a stage designer, Rumbold's early work included "Pre-Raphaelite" sets and costumes for William Faversham's ''Romeo and Juliet'' in 1913;[4] and Tudor décor and costumes for Arthur Bourchier's production of ''Bluff King Hal'', the following year. ''The Observer'' considered Rumbold's contribution the best thing about the show, and said, "His costumes and his scenes at Greenwich, Westminster and Hampton Court show considerable power of being original within the limits of archaeology and probability; and, though inexperience peeps out here and there, the work as a whole is splendid and beautiful."[5] In the following years his designs included ''The Right to Kill'' a melodrama set in Turkey staged by Sir Herbert Tree at His Majesty's Theatre;[6] and Charles Villiers Stanford's opera ''The Critic'' (based on Sheridan's play of the same name) at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1916, of which ''The Times'' said, "Mr Hugo Rumbold apparently carries the 18th century atmosphere about in his pocket."[7] He also designed ''L'Apres Midi d'un Faune'' in 1916.[8]

Rumbold was commissioned by Rupert D'Oyly Carte to dress a 1918 revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's ''Patience,'' in succession to W. S. Gilbert, who designed the original costumes, and Percy Anderson, who dressed the 1907 revival. Some of Rumbold's costumes (for the "everyday young girls") were retained by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company until Peter Goffin's new designs were introduced in 1957.[9]

For Sir Thomas Beecham, Rumbold designed revivals of ''La fille de Madame Angot'', by Lecocq, and Mozart's ''Le Nozze di Figaro'' staged at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1919.[10] In the same year he designed the first British production of Maurice Ravel's ''L'heure espagnole'' for Covent Garden.[11]

Rumbold designed a revival of Bernard Shaw's ''Arms and the Man'' at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1919,[12] and ''The Tempest'' for Viola Tree's company at the Aldwych Theatre in 1921.[13]

In 1920 Rumbold acted as impresario, producing Darius Milhaud's new ballet, ''Le bœuf sur le toit'' at the Coliseum Theatre, under the title ''The Nothing Doing Bar''.[14] This departure from his milieu was noted in his obituary notice in ''The Times'', which said: "He was essentially a Bohemian and a clubman, who was witty and amusing who always tried to pass on his zest for life to others.... Later, he took to film-producing. He was indeed something of a dilettante and dabbler in many pursuits. Had he been more of a 'sticker' he would have made more of a name for himself." With Zoë Akins, he wrote ''The Human Elephant'', a play in three acts adapted from the short story of that title by W. Somerset Maugham.[15]

Rumbold was described as "one of the Last of the Dandies" and a "brilliant flâneur".[16] He was a member of Noël Coward's set, with a penchant for cross-dressing in pursuit of comic turns at parties, according to Coward's biographer Philip Hoare.[17] Despite the mutual hostility of Coward and the Sitwells (Osbert Sitwell, Sacheverell Sitwell and Edith Sitwell), Rumbold maintained a friendship with all of them.[18] Charlie Chaplin said that as a mimic he had never known anyone to compare with Rumbold.[19] In the last year of his life, Rumbold married the lesbian dramatist Zoë Akins.[20]

In March 1932, she married Hugo Rumbold (in the last year of his life), a British painter and set designer. He was from an old British aristocratic family, the brother of the ambassador to Berlin, and about as effete as they come. "Zoe just loved saying, "You know, my sister-in-law is Lady Rumbold,"" said her firiend Elliot Morgan. "Oh, yes, the marriage to Hugo was one of convenience, Zoe's convenience in becoming an aristocrat." They were married at Zoe's home in Pasadena, with a reception hosted by Noel Coward, George Cukor, William Haines, and Tallulah Bankhead. After the marriage, of course, Joby and Zoe no longer lived together, with Joby taking a home in Beverly Hills. There, she pointedly told an interviewer her only companion was a Pomeranian she'd namaed Zoe. Billie Burke, around the time of her affair with Dorothy Arzner, wrote to the new bride urging her to find happiness with Hugo. He was someone, Burke said, who could appreciate and understand her. But in November, Rumbold wrote in frustation that he had expected an idyllic married life, but he'd discovered instead that his wife wrote better love scenes for the screen than she did for her own husband. Just a few days after he sent this letter, poor Hugo was dead.

Rumbold died in Pasadena, California, in 1932, aged 48, from an illness caused by his injuries in World War I. He is buried at San Gabriel Cemetery, San Gabriel, California.[21]

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