Partner Noël Coward, Wife Natalia Pavlovna Paley
First Presbyterian Church of Ewing Cemetery, 100 Scotch Rd, Ewing Township, NJ 08628
John C. "Jack" Wilson (August 19, 1899 - October 29, 1961) was an American theatre director and producer. In Cole Porter (1981), by William McBrien, never-before-seen letters shine light into Cole Porter's ongoing relationships with Ballets Russes star Boris Kochno, architect Ed Tauch, choreographer Nelson Barclift, director John Wilson, and longtime friend Ray Kelly -- whose children still receive half of the childless Porter's copyrights.
Born in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, Wilson started out his working life as a stockbroker. He married Natalia Pavlovna Paley on 8 September 1937 in Fairfield, Connecticut. It was a marriage of convenience. Wilson was intelligent, rich and a good companion. Natalia's name and social skills were assets to his business as a Broadway producer. Princess Paley liked her husband's humor, and his homosexuality suited her distaste for physical love. They had no children.
During the run of The Vortex by Noël Coward in 1924, Wilson met Coward and soon became his business manager and lover. Wilson used his position to steal from Coward, but the playwright was in love and accepted both the larceny and Wilson's heavy drinking.
When The Vortex play moved from the Everyman Theatre, Hampstead, to the West End at the Royalty on December 16, 1924, Coward's understudy John Gielgud recalled how his "room looked very glittering, with large bottles of eau-de-cologne on the wash-stand and an array of dressing-gowns hanging in the wardrobe." "Noel", according to the young actor, "was charming." During this period, another admirer would grace the threshold of his dressing room. According to Coward, he "walked nervously, and with slightly overdone truculence into my life." That man was the American John "Jack" Chapman Wilson whose charm, equal to that of Coward's, proved to be his greatest asset and perhaps eventually Corward's greatest annoyance. Cole Lesley, whom Coward employed after Lorn Loraine in the mid-1930s as his personal secretary, described how Wilson, in addition to his "film-star looks", also had "an immense amount of charm, and with his sharp with he could be so funny that one forgave, or didn't even notice the mocking irony" of his words. Nonetheless, Wilson would become Coward's companion and primary lover. Wilson soon gave up his job as a stockbroker and assumed the position of Coward's personal manager. Jack was the youngest memeber of the so-called Coward's family, and was appropriately called "Bay-Bay", while Coward was known as "Pop". Personal secretary Lorn Loraine was the playwright's right hand, and was soon nicknamed "Mother Hen" and even at times "Girl Friday".
Wilson began his theatre career in 1931 as General Manager for the original Broadway production of Coward's hit play Private Lives. He began producing shows on Broadway in 1935, including Coward's Tonight at 8:30 in 1936 and Set to Music in 1939. Wilson's first project as a director was another Coward work, Blithe Spirit, in 1941.
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