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BBC Report About Leslie Howard's Death

[BBC Report of Leslie Howard's Death] On Saturday, July 30, I posted on Facebook the 2014 BBC report on Leslie Howard's Death ...

Chronology of Leslie Howard's Life
[Work In Progress - More To Follow]

Please click here to read an explanation on why I believe it is so difficult to find details about the timeline of Leslie Howard's life and a discussion of the four main books I have used to complete this chronology. I also discuss the dynamics of Leslie Howard's family and his relationship with his wife and children.

In preparing this chronology, my most overwhelming thought, apart from my feelings of awe, delight and intense sadness, is that Leslie Howard was the true Forrest Gump of his time, being present at so many of the world's most well-known and history-making events.


1893

3 Apr • Leslie Howard Steiner is born to Ferdinand and Lilian (née Blumberg) Steiner at 31 Westbourne Road in Forest Hill, London

1898

Leslie's father moves the family to Vienna where Leslie learns to speak German

1903

The Steiners move back to London and take up residence next door to Lilian's family on Jasper Road, Upper Norwood, just around the corner from the Crystal Palace • Ferdinand Steiner becomes "Frank Stainer" and Leslie is anglicized

1904

Leslie attends prep school and begins writing stories

1906

Dec • Leslie's first play is produced for his school's Christmas pageant and his stories begin appearing in The Penny Weekly

1907 - 1911

Leslie forms the Upper Norwood Dramatic Club with two friends and, using the office he has made for himself in his attic which he has named "Allandale," begins to produce his plays which are staged, along with concerts, in the living room and back yard of the family home • Leslie enjoys playing ragtime on the piano

1912

The Upper Norwood Dramatic Club has become too big for Leslie's living room and moves its productions to Stanley Hall, South Norwood

Leslie has left school and has taken a position of clerk at Cox and Co.

26 Dec • The Club's first staged performance at the Hall includes The True Artist by Leslie Howard Steiner and Ours by T. W. Robertson • Leslie's mother and sister, Dorice, also appear

1913

20 Dec • Deception, another play by Leslie Howard Steiner, along with The Perplexed Husband by Alfred Sutro, are performed at Stanley Hall and receive reviews in The Stage

1914

4 Aug • England declares war on Germany

Oct • Leslie appears in a crowd scene in his first film, The Heroine of Mons, with the help of his actor uncle, Wilfred Noy • Leslie enlists in the army

1915

Mar • After five months of training, Leslie is accepted into the Northamptonshire Imperial Yeomanry • Leslie's unit continues to train at Colchester

1916

Feb/Mar • Leslie meets Ruth Evelyn Martin in Colchester

Mar • Leslie and Ruth marry at St. Mary at the Walls Church in Colchester

Summer • Leslie ships out to France, comes home on leave, serves briefly in the Battle of the Somme, sustains shell shock and is invalided out of the army

Fall • Leslie meets Ackerman May, Theatrical Agent

Fall • Leslie accepts rôle as "Jerry" in Peg O' My Heart in a touring company
• Tours Devonshire and Wales playing at stable theaters and gas-lighted back rooms

Winter • Accepts rôle as "Jack Chesney" in Charley's Aunt in a touring company

1917

Leslie takes a position as secretary to Matheson Lang, actor-manager of the Strand Theatre

Leslie and Ruth live in London in a "cheap little flat" with no telephone

Leslie appears in The Happy Warrior (1917), his second film

Ruth finds work in several plays, two of which are speaking parts

10 Jun • Leslie appears as "the Apprentice" in The Tidings Brought to Mary, an experimental, one-matinée production only

Jul • Ruth becomes pregnant

Summer/Fall • Leslie goes on tour with Matheson Lang's production of Under Cover

Fall/Winter • Leslie returns to London and rents a small house for himself, Ruth and the new baby they are expecting


1918

Feb • Accepts rôle in The Freaks at the New Theatre, London. The play was not successful but Howard was noticed by the actor/manager/playwright Dion Boucicault

19 Mar • Leslie appears in Romanticismo, another experimental, one-matinée charity production

21 Mar • Germans begin their Spring Offensive

1 Apr • Leslie performs as "Leonard Mortimer" in The Morals of Vanda at the Grand, in Croydon, and receives good reviews

4 Apr • Reprises rôle as "Marquis Giacomino d'Arfo," Romanticismo, in another charity performance at King's Hall, Covent Garden

7 Apr • Ruth delivers a son, Ronald Cecil Martin Howard, known henceforth as "Winkie"

6 May • Leslie appears in Box B, again receiving good reviews

19 May • Germans bomb England

3 Jun • Leslie appears in Sinners to good reivews

20 Jul • Leslie begins his most important rôle to date as the opinionated seventeen year old son of a government minister in The Title which runs for 285 performances through to the spring of 1919

11 Nov • Germany concedes


1919

Leslie's parents and siblings move to a house in West Kensington and Leslie, Ruth and Winkie move in with them

Mar • At the recommendation of A. E. Matthews, Leslie appears in his third film, The Lackey and the Lady, which becomes embroiled in a law suit and is later destroyed

3 Apr • Our Mr. Hepplewhite begins at the Criterion Theatre with Leslie as "Lord Bagley" and runs until autumn

24 Nov • Leslie plays the lead rôle in Just a Wife or Two at the West Pier in Brighton, again to very positive reviews

1920

5 Jan • Leslie receives his best reviews and best salary yet in Dion Boucicault's production of Mr. Pim Passes By at the New TheatrePim is so successful it transfers to the GarrickPim transfers again to the Playhouse Theatre • Total combined performances are 246

2 Feb • Leslie appears in another one-matinée, experimental play The Young Person in Pink

Leslie begins to hang out at the film studios at Bushey and meets Adrian Brunel, eventually proposing the two form a film production company, British Comedy Films Ltd. • Leslie and Brunel recruit C. Aubrey Smith, Nigel Playfair and A. A. Milne and form Minerva Films Ltd. • With the help of investors like H. G. Wells, the company produces five films in a short time with Leslie appearing in two, Bookworms and Five Pounds Reward

16 Feb • Kitty Breaks Loose begins an 8 matinée run the Duke of York's Theatre with Leslie as "Jack Wilson"

5 Mar • Leslie formally changes his surname to Howard.

6 Jun • Leslie performs in a flop, East Is West, at the Lyric • The play receives terrible notices but Leslie is given an excellent write up in The Sunday Times which is noted by Gilbert Miller who is about to begin casting his Broadway play, Just Suppose

Summer • Ruth takes Winkie to spend the summer with Leslie's family in Rottingdean

13 Jul • Rosalind of the Farmyard, Leslie's last performance in London until 1926, is presented in an experimental, one-matinée only show

Oct • Leslie is offered a rôle in Just Suppose at Henry Miller's Theatre in New York • Leslie travels to the United States aboard the Majestic but there is only enough money for one fare so Ruth stays in England with Winkie

1 Nov • Just Suppose opens at Henry Miller's Theatre, New York • The play is not successful

Dec • Ruth sails aboard the RMS Olympic* to join Leslie in America but leaves Winkie behind in London with his grandparents • Leslie and Ruth stay at the Woodstock, an inexpensive hotel just off Times Square

[*Cary Grant stated in his autobiography that he traveled to America for the first time as Archibald Leach aboard the RMS Olympic in 1920 and that the newlyweds Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were aboard.]

10 Dec • P's and Q's, an original play written by Annie Nathan Meyer, one of the four winners of a competition held by the New York Auxiliary of the American Pen Women, appears in a special matinée at the Morosco Theatre in New York • Performing with Leslie are Joan Maclean, Geoffrey Kerr and Mrs. Thomas Whiffen

1921

Feb/Mar • Leslie is on tour with Just Suppose in towns from Atlantic City to Toronto to Chicago for six weeks where Leslie and Ruth stayed at the Parkway Hotel, home to George "Bugs" Moran, and declines offers for rôles in a film and the Broadway production of Mr. Pim Passes By • Leslie and Ruth meet and spend time with Lynn Fontanne

May • Just Suppose ends its six-week run in Chicago

7 May • Leslie and Ruth return to England aboard SS Lapland to spend the summer with Winkie

Fall • Leslie discovers the fate of Minerva Films Ltd. • An offer for a part comes up in New York and Leslie and Ruth return to New York aboard the SS Adriatic, this time with Winkie • Helen Hayes, Leslie's soon-to-be co-star in his upcoming play, The Wren, is also aboard • Leslie has begun his life-long passion for photography and takes pictures of the New York skyline as the ship sails into New York Bay

Fall • Leslie and Ruth once again take up residence at the Woodstock Hotel, this time with Winkie

19 Sep • The Wren does its try-out in Boston

10 Oct • Leslie appears in The Wren opposite Helen Hayes which folds after just 24 performances • Leslie receives his worst review ever by Marc Connelly (In true Leslie Howard style he gets to be good friends with Connelly who later becomes godfather to Leslie's daughter.)

Fall • Due to the failure of The Wren, Leslie and Ruth are forced to live in a small (so small only one person can fit in the kitchen at a time) furnished walk-up apartment in a tenement at 195 Claremont Avenue off Riverside Drive which, although tiny, provides a bit more privacy than the Woodstock • Ruth hires Florence Gospel ("Gargy") but known as "Miss Goss" as Winkie's nanny • Miss Goss becomes a good friend and member of the family for the rest of their lives • Leslie works on his plays and stories

Winter • Thanks to the arrival of Miss Goss, Ruth was able to travel with Leslie to Buffalo for the out-of-town try-outs for Danger, his next play

22 Dec • Leslie soon finds another play, Danger, which provides the small family an income through the winter

1922

14 Mar • Leslie opens in The Truth About Blayds, written by his former partner from Minerva Films Ltd., A. A. Milne • The play is successful and runs for three months until summer • Minerva Films folds

Spring • Leslie buys a Dort and the family discover the beauty of Long Island on one of their Sunday jaunts

Jun/Jul • The small apartment on Claremont Avenue is stifling in a June heatwave and the family rent a small cottage in Deer Isle, Maine, for the summer • Ruth, Winkie and Miss Goss make the journey by train to Boston and then by boat to the Island leaving Leslie to finish his run with The Truth About Blayds • Leslie soon joins the family and spends hours with Winkie in their small boat fishing for dabs • Leslie is offered the rôle of the "spoiled wastrel son" Jerry Middleton in A Serpent's Tooth and sent packing to New York with instructions to find a house for the family to live in

Aug • Leslie returns to New York and takes up temporary residence at the Lotos Club, where he is a member, while rehearsing for his upcoming play

24 Aug • A Serpent's Tooth opens in New York in extremely hot weather • Leslie receives good notices and the rôle releases him from forever playing  the "amusing and engaging" young Englishman

Fall • Leslie finds a three-story red brick house with "an elegant glassed-in veranda" and a garden on Maple Drive in Great Neck, New York, and the family move in

23 Oct • Rehearsals begin at the Comedy Theatre for The Romantic Age by A. A. Milne and co-starring Margalo GillmoreGillmore, a member of the Algonquin Round Table, introduces Leslie and Ruth to the artistic community of New York

14 Nov • The Romantic Age opens and, unfortunately, closes in the same month, living through only 31 performances

25 Dec • The Lady Cristilinda follows with Leslie in a small part but a new friendship with the author, Monckton Hoffe • The play's run is even shorter than Leslie's previous engagement at only 24 performances prompting a New York critic to quip "Leslie Howard seems to be in every first night I have attended"

1923


6 Feb • Anything Might Happen opens in Stamford

8 Feb • Anything Might Happen plays well at the Wilmington, Delaware, Playhouse

20 Feb • Unfortunately, Leslie's next rôle in Anything Might Happen is short-lived as well but Leslie receives a favorable notice in Theatre Arts Magazine: "The more I see of Howard the more established I am in my original view that he is one of the very best young actors in America. There is nothing the lad cannot do, from tragedy to farce and do superbly well."

Apr • Anything Might Happen dies a quiet death

21 May • Leslie finally appears in a play that runs for longer than a month or two • Aren't We All? opens to a very welcoming public and runs for eight months with Leslie leaving early to start rehearsals for Outward Bound [Ronald Howard would play the same rôle as his father in a 1953 London revival of Aren't We All?]

Late Spring • Leslie and his family have moved to a house on Magnolia Drive, Great Neck, New York • His neighbor is Scott Fitzgerald • His uncle, Wilfred Noy, along with his wife and two daughters, stay through Christmas with Leslie and his family

24 Dec • Audiences are reported by some to have hissed either the opening, middle or ending of Outward Bound in Atlantic city, sparking a barrage of letters to The New York Times with some claiming to have heard the hissing and others flatly denying it

Late Dec • Leslie is in Washington, D.C., for the out-of-town preview of Outward Bound

1924

1 Jan • Leslie starts a diary and keeps with it until the end of the year • 29th December is the last entry [To read Leslie Howard's diary, click here]

5 Jan • Leslie and Lionel Watts, his co-star in Outward Bound, receive a personal tour through the White House courtesy of the Assistant Attorney General • Leslie is particularly impressed with the "Dining Room"

6 Jan • The first notation regarding Leslie's friendship with F. Scott Fitzgerald appears in his diary

7 Jan • Outward Bound opens at the Ritz Theatre, New York, to very good reviews

9 Jan • Leslie dines with the "The Vicious Circle" at the Algonquin

30 Jan • Leslie is already bored with Outward Bound and can't wait to leave the play

Feb • Leslie finally finishes his play, Higginbotham

25 Feb • Leslie begins drawing lessons

2 Mar • Outward Bound is presented at Sing-Sing

23 Mar • Ruth is pregnant • Leslie and Ruth decide to purchase their own home at 7 East Road in Great Neck along with furniture to fill it and Leslie splurges on a brand new Cadillac

28 Apr • Rehearsals begin for Spanish Nights, the title of which is later changed to The Werewolf • Leslie does not enjoy rehearsals due to the "exasperating leading woman being bad actress and congenital idiot combined...leading woman last word in B.F.s"

10 May • Outward Bound closes

11 May • "Anyhow They Mean Well," Leslie's story about one of the less pleasant aspects of being an actor, is published in The New York Times

26 May • The Werewolf plays an out-of-town preview in Stamford, Connecticut

28 May • Leslie leaves for Buffalo to continue The Werewolf's out-of-town tryouts and then moves on to Chicago

29 May • Ruth begins moving into the new house

5 Jul • The Werewolf closes its Chicago run

11 Aug • The Werewolf begins more out-of-town tryouts in Long Branch and Asbury, New Jersey, and New Haven, Connecticut

25 Aug • The Werewolf opens in New York to terrible reviews and closes after only a week

28 Sep • Ruth is rushed to New York but it is false labor; however, in an abundance of caution she stays in New York until the baby is born

18 Oct • 7:00 a.m. • Ruth gives Leslie a daughter, Leslie Ruth Howard, and Leslie and Ruth's marriage changes to one of two parents living together for the sake of the children

1 Dec • Rehearsals begin for Isabel

7 Dec • Leslie Ruth is christened but is never called by her name (Her first attempt to say "Daddy" creates the name she will always be known as: "Doodie") • Marc Connelly and Margalo Gillmore are two godparents • Leslie receives a leather-bound baby book from "Uncle Marc" and goes on to record his daughter's every new accomplishment

29 Dec • Leslie opens in Buffalo with Isabel amidst complaints of hotel food, train travel and separation

1925

13 Jan • Isabel, a play adapted by Arthur Richman from a German story, opens at the Empire Theatre in New York along with Shall We Join the Ladies? by J. M. Barrie • Leslie and Ruth make another life-long friend in Ilka Chase who is also appearing in Shall We Join the Ladies? • Although, Isabel is not successful, it brings Leslie back together with Gilbert Miller

Early Spring • Leslie is offered a part in The Green Hat with Katharine Cornell and Ann Harding • Leslie is desperate for a hit and excepts the rôle even though he thinks the dialogue distasteful, his part feeble and the play itself banal

29 Mar • The Green Hat opens at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit

Apr • The Green Hat moves on to Chicago for a long run • Leslie finds a small apartment with a kitchen and sends roll upon roll of pictures to Ruth in New York

Jul/Aug • Leslie returns to England aboard the RMS Majestic by himself after an absence of four years to see his mother whose health is failing [I believe it was on this trip that Howard first met Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. To read Leslie's thoughts about his friend, click here.]

Fall • The Green Hat opens in Atlantic City with Ann Harding replaced by Margalo Gillmore • Miss Goss brings Winkie to stay with Leslie during the out-of-town run

15 Sep • Women are attracted to the character Leslie portrays in The Green Hat and he experiences the rôle of matinée idol for the first time—a rôle he comes to resent, but a rôle he finds pays well • The show runs for 231 performances at the Broadhurst and the out-of-town showings run into mid-1926 beginning Leslie's type-casting as the "over-womanised man"

31 Oct • Leslie's story, "The Intimate Diary of an Opening Night," appears in The New Yorker

14 Nov • "Such Is Fame," another of Leslie's stories," is published in The New Yorker

1926

Jan-Aug • Leslie writes a series of seven articles from the perspective of "Inside Speaking Out" about play-producing and the functions of playwright, manager, director, actor, actor's agent, the out-of-town opening and the Broadway première which are published in Vanity Fair

Jun • Leslie and the family return to England with plans to come back to America in the fall to start rehearsing Jacques Deval's play The Cardboard Lover for Gilbert Miller • Leslie moves his family into a quiet hotel on the northern fringe of Hyde Park and begins riding horses each day in Rotten Row • Ruth becomes ill and is sent to a nursing home and the children are sent to stay with Leslie's family at the beach

27 Jul • Leslie appears in a limited run production of The Way You Look At It by Edward W. Bootle-Wilbraham, third Earl of Lathom, with Edna Best, Martita Hunt and Isobel Jeans at the Queen's Theatre, London • The critics were fierce and the public apathetic • The show closes after only 14 performances

Jul/Aug • Ruth and Leslie travel to Lancing to join the children and Leslie's family: his sisters Irene (an aspiring actress) and Dorice (a dance instructor), his brother Arthur (still in school), his grandmother, Granny Mary, and his mother, Lilian, and father, Frank • Ruth becomes seriously ill and is transported in severe pain to the nearest hospital for emergency surgery

Aug • "The Broadway Première," one of Leslie's seven-article series, "Inside Speaking Out," appears in Vanity Fair, this one about his experience in The Werewolf 

Late Summer • Leslie returns to New York aboard the RMS Majestic to begin rehearsals for The Cardboard Lover, but Ruth must remain in England with Winkie and Doodie to recuperate from her recent surgery • Leslie is met at the dock by Gilbert Miller who informs him that the play is being held up over a contract dispute by its star, Laurette Taylor • Leslie proceeds to East Hampton to stay with Laurette and her husband, Hartley Manners

Late Summer • Rehearsals begin at the Eltinge Theatre for The Cardboard Lover with Gilbert and Laurette still at odds • Directing is George Cukor and the play is set to open in Great Neck on 23rd September • Leslie rehearses with Laurette on weekends at her home in East Hampton

Late Summer/Early Fall • Ruth rents an apartment in Brighton for herself, the children and Miss Goss

Sep • Leslie's article, "How to Hire an Actor," appears in Vanity Fair

Sep • Leslie receives his Lucky Coin

25 Sep • The Cardboard Lover opens in Great Neck with unfavorable results, although Leslie is received very warmly with "applause at every exit" • Leslie reports that Laurette Taylor felt very sick in the first act and "everything got rather muddled in the second with few lines coming out as rehearsed" • Leslie writes to Ruth who is still in England: "Quite the best success I've ever had. This all sounds very conceited—but you know me, Al!"

Sep • The Cardboard Lover goes on to Stamford, Connecticut and Atlantic City, New Jersey

4 Oct • The Cardboard Lover continues its out-of-town tryouts in Washington, D.C.

16 Oct • Ruth and the children, along with Miss Goss, sail for New York aboard the RMS Carmania

23 Oct • The Cardboard Lover moves on to Baltimore, Maryland, but to very "poor and unresponsive houses" • After a horrible week, Miller decides not to open in New York and Leslie returns to New York heartbroken, with no ready money, no prospects, discouraged and disillusioned, very thin and very hungry

Fall • Leslie, Ruth, the children and Miss Goss again take up residence in their home at 7 East Road in Great Neck • It is discovered, unfortunately, that their Alsatian, Brit, had suffered much loneliness when the family left him for England and he had disappeared from the kennel where he was boarded • Ruth begins urging Leslie to consider sending Wink to boarding school where he can be taught discipline, something Leslie is short on, but Leslie resists, remembering his own school experience at that age

Nov • It is reported that "the management thinks Miss Taylor should give up the role. She holds a run of the play contract and thinks not. There the matter stands."

1927

Winter • Gilbert Miller announces The Cardboard Lover will reopen in March, this time with Jeanne Eagels, and the title will be formally changed to Her Cardboard LoverGilbert also enlists the help of P. G. Wodehouse to anglicize the play

Jan • Leslie's attempt to bring in some cash is successful when his article, "Stage-Struck," is published in Vanity Fair • Leslie continues to work on his play, Murray Hill

Mar/Apr • Leslie has two articles appear in Vanity Fair: "Theatre Without Actors" and "And Now the Radio Actor" and another in The New Yorker: "Rip Van Howard," a prophetic piece in which Howard falls into a deep sleep and awakens to a world where art exists for the sole purpose of advertising products, a world where the commercialization of the arts sees theatres and plays named after big businesses and where live audiences no longer exist, where people—an actor's raison d'être—are only imagined to exist out of sight at the receiving end of invisible radio waves

21 Mar • Her Cardboard Lover opens at the Empire Theatre • After a very arduous rehearsal process—Leslie's second time with a very difficult leading lady in the same part—Leslie finally receives his reward with unprecedented adulation from the audience each time he enters and exits the stage along with numerous curtain calls • Although Leslie receives much attention in print media all the way to London, he still receives no billing outside the theatre • Leslie finally tastes the success for which he had worked and strived for ten years—he is finally a star

Spring • Leslie demonstrates his humor in an article published in Theatre Magazine, "The Poor Nut and the Modest Actor" • Although Leslie is now under contract to Gilbert Miller, he is able to accept an offer to appear in John Galsworthy's play, Escape, to begin in the fall

14 May • Leslie's audacious article, "Holy Hollywood," about the hypocrisy of movie-makers, in particular Cecil B. DeMille, appears in The New Yorker

13 Jun • Leslie and Ruth are among 4.5 million people watching and cheering Charles Lindbergh as his motorcade travels down 5th Avenue in New York

Jul • Vanity Fair publishes Leslie's story, "Poor Alice"

Aug • Leslie travels to Boston to begin casting for Murray Hill—his first authored play to be produced and his first directorial opportunity

13 Aug • Murray Hill opens in Boston at the Copley Square Theatre to audience fanfare and is so well-received there that Lee Shubert extends an invitation to Leslie to bring the show to the Shubert-owned theatre in New York

Sep • "Biography of an Anglo-American Child" appears in Vanity Fair

16 Sep • Murray Hill opens for two nights and a Saturday matinée at the Shubert Playhouse in Wilmington, Delaware

24 Sep • Murray Hill continues its out-of-town tryouts at the Adelphi Theatre in Philadelphia

29 Sep • Leslie's play, Murray Hill, which he has been working on for years and which has gone through so many iterations, opens at the Bijou Theatre in New York after its try-outs in Boston and Wilmington but lasts for only 28 performances • Even though Murray Hill plays for ten weeks in Boston—continuing after the New York cast takes the show to Delaware—the play receives mixed reviews in New York and marks the end of Leslie's playwriting days as he is soon to become too busy to spare the time

[To read Leslie's thoughts on his experience as author, actor and director of Murray Hill, click here]

26 Oct • John Galsworthy's play, Escape, Leslie's first dramatic rôle opens at the Booth Theatre • Leslie receives his best reviews ever and is accepted as a dramatic actor

Fall/Winter • At some time during the run of Escape, Jed Harris, impresario, sticks his head into Leslie's dressing room and tells Leslie, "You were not bad, not bad at all. Come and see me sometime. Good night." Leslie calls after him, "What about Berkeley Square?" [Back in 1926 Leslie had been told by Alexander Woollcott—who had gotten his hands on the script—that the part was made for Leslie and Leslie had become very interested in it.] Leslie hears from Harris some weeks later and does manage to get a copy of the play but is not interested in the five-play deal Harris offers him and does not accept Harris' proposal • Leslie takes a backdoor approach and sends a cable to the author, John Balderston, asking if Balderston can help Leslie arrange to produce the play but Balderston refers him right back to Harris • Leslie drops the idea of producing Berkeley Square for a bit, but the play continues "burning holes" in Leslie's brain • Leslie sends a cable to his associate, Gilbert Miller, who is in London and receives the following response: "Dear Partner, have bought Berkeley Square. Good luck, but don't blame me. Gilbert."

Nov • Leslie's tongue-in-cheek trilogy of articles on "Back-Stage Visitors"—"The Insurance Gentleman," "The Process Server" and "My Public"—appear in The New Yorker 

1928

24 Mar • Escape finally ends its New York run after 173 performances • The play moves on to Boston, Hartford, New Haven, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Toronto and Montreal before Leslie's contract expires on June 1st


16 Apr • Leslie appears in Escape which runs for one week—nightly performances with Wednesday and Saturday matinées—at the Maryland Theatre in Baltimore

Spring • The Howards sell their house at 7 East Road, Great Neck, and prepare to travel home to England where Leslie is to produce and star in the London showing of Her Cardboard Lover with Tullalah Bankhead and where Ruth dreams of purchasing a permanent family home • The family moves in to the Algonquin Hotel in the days before sailing where Leslie has an attack of his old malady, hypochondria, which he is convinced is acute appendicitis • The doctor agrees and advises Ruth her husband is not fit for travel

21 May • Leslie's family travel aboard the RMS Carmania to England without him—Ruth with worries about her husband's fidelity

24 May • Leslie sails to England aboard the RMS Majestic with his friend Raymond Hahn who had missed the previous sailing to watch over Leslie in an effort to ease Ruth's worries about her husband

Late Spring • Leslie, Ruth, the children and Miss Goss move in with Leslie's family in their house at 39 Onslow Square, South Kensington where Dorice, Leslie's sister, runs the "most successful and chic dancing school in London" • Doodie takes up dance lessons which delights Leslie who enjoys watching his darling daughter prancing about in her silver dancing slippers

Summer • Leslie finds that city life does not offer him the fresh air and open space he needs to achieve emotional equilibrium and he moves his family to an old house at Godstone in Surrey • During this time the family frequently roams about Surrey in Leslie's red roadster looking for a house of their own to purchase • After only a few weeks in Godstone, Leslie decides the children need sea air and so once again he moves them, this time to Brighton and into another rented house • Leslie travels to London each day to make ready Her Cardboard Lover for its première • Leslie takes the family on a road trip to Cornwall before the start of the play and at the end of it deposits the family in another rented house in Bramley

21 Aug • Her Cardboard Lover opens at the Lyric in London to mobs of women who waited in line for thirty hours outside the theatre excited to see, not Leslie, but Tallulah Bankhead

Summer/Fall • Every night after Her Cardboard Lover, Leslie spends hours discussing and rewriting Berkeley Square with its author, John Balderston, at Balderston's home in Trevor Square • Ruth and Balderston's wife, Marion, facilitate the pair by keeping the beer and cheese coming

Fall • Winkie is finally sent to boarding school at the insistence of Ruth

1929

Winter/Spring • Leslie takes a brief trip to Vienna and Budapest with Gilbert Miller and a short holiday at Cap Ferrat with Ruth and Doodie • Rehearsals begin for Berkeley Square

6 Mar • Berkeley Square opens at the Lyric Theatre in London with critics very mean-spirited in their appraisal of Leslie, even commenting on the way he stood, and his version of the play—their dislike of America and Americans showing through and almost seeming resentful that Leslie had earned his fame there • Leslie would be hurt for a very long time by the way he was disavowed by his own countrymen [Note: Leslie Howard's sister, Irene Howard, appears as a maid in the play in both London and later in New York]

Spring • Even though reviews for Berkeley Square are not favorable in England, Leslie wants to bring the play to New York; however, Gilbert Miller, Leslie's partner, is not convinced the play will fare better there and instead suggests a play written by Siegfried Geyer and adapted by P. G. Wodehouse called By Candle-light • Although Leslie is not pleased, he "martyrs" himself and agrees to appear in the play, but not in London

Late Spring/Early Summer • Leslie becomes restless and moves his family from Bramley to a farm in Mullion Cove in Cornwall, away from the crowds and brick walls found at other seaside resorts and the family settles in for a quiet and lazy summer

Summer • Leslie returns to London to begin rehearsals for By Candle-light leaving his family behind to continue their summer holiday

Aug • By Candle-light begins rehearsals in London

Late Aug/Early Sep • Ruth and the children are reunited with Leslie for one week when By Candle-light is tried out at Southampton • While in Southampton the family is awarded the treat of being ferried to the Isle of Wight to see the airplane that is to win the Schneider Trophy for Great Britain, a plane that upon Leslie's first view of it is being polished by Aircraftman Shaw, the extraordinary Lawrence of Arabia [Many believe that had Howard lived, the film would have been produced and directed by, and possibly even starred, Howard long before it was thought about by Sam Spiegel and David Lean. It is also interesting to note that Howard went on to produce, direct and star in a film, The First of the Few aka Spitfire (1942), about the plane's designer, R. J. Mitchell.]

4 Sep • Leslie sadly returns to New York aboard the SS Majestic with Reggie Owen as roommate, but without his family, to begin production of the New York premières of Candle Light (renamed) and Berkeley Square

10 Sep • Leslie arrives in New York

16 Sep • Due to labor strikes, Candle Light, a play produced by Gilbert Miller and featuring Leslie Howard, scheduled to open at Keith's Theatre in Philadelphia was moved to Washington, D. C. instead

23 Sep • Candle Light opens in Baltimore

30 Sep • Candle Light opens at the Empire Theatre in New York just a little less than one month before Black Thursday and the Great Crash of 1929 • Leslie stays with the production only until Berkeley Square goes on its out-of-town tryouts a few weeks later

3 Oct • Jeanne Eagels dies

21 Oct • Leslie leaves the cast of Candle Light to begin rehearsals for Berkeley Square • Ernest Glendinning fills the rôle of Josef in Candle Light

25 Oct • Berkeley Square opens* in New Haven to packed houses and enthusiastic audiences—a very intellectual group—which Gilbert Miller is convinced will not be recreated in New York • The play moves to Washington, D. C., for the week prior to its New York opening and is again greeted by enthusiastic audiences with curtain calls almost too many to count


[*Leslie Ruth Howard in her book, A Quite Remarkable Father, states Berkeley Square opened in New Haven the weekend of the Yale-Harvard football game but that is not possible since that year the Yale-Harvard game occurred on November 23rd and was played in Boston. Berkeley Square opened in New York on November 4th. According to The New York Times, Berkeley Square opened in New Haven on October 25th which was the weekend of the Yale-Army game (October 26).]

4 Nov • Berkeley Square opens in New York at the Lyceum Theatre and the night ends with 25 curtain calls

Winter • Ruth, Doodie and Miss Goss join Leslie in New York and they all take up residence in an apartment at 14 East 60th Street • Leslie and Ruth decide that it is time to educate Doodie and hire a private tutor • Leslie introduces his daughter to the theatre with Bitter Sweet, the musical by Noël Coward, and Journey's End, another Gilbert Miller production, and, of course, Berkeley Square • Leslie works on his adaptation of a play by the the German writer, Hans Chlumberg, which he hopes to direct

1930

Jan • During the day Leslie directs rehearsals of Out of a Blue Sky, Hans Chlumberg's play Leslie has adapted from the German, and at night continues to perform in Berkeley Square • Leslie casts William Gargan, an Irish Catholic boy from Brooklyn, in the part of "German play reader," turning down Clark Gable for the part • William Gargan will be Leslie's close friend for the rest of his life

8 Feb • Out of a Blue Sky opens at the Booth Theatre but unfortunately, because Leslie's time has been monopolized by Berkeley Square, he has not been able to devote the time and attention necessary to it and it folds after only 17 performances

22 Feb • Out of a Blue Sky closes

Spring • Plagued by continual requests for benefit performances for one cause or another that actors in successful plays are expected to perform, Leslie writes a silly—even ridiculous—play called The New Morality which, to his chagrin, becomes the company's go-to benefit show • Leslie makes plans to return to England, even cabling to an agent to purchase a home for himself and his family but offers from Hollywood start pouring in and even though Leslie is desperate to see England again, when he is offered the part of Tom Prior, the alcoholic—the part he had wanted when he appeared in Outward Bound years before—Leslie takes the bait

17 Apr • Leslie's play, Berkeley Square, ends its run at the Lyceum Theatre with Leslie so tired of repeating the same lines that he refuses to go on the road, but promises to tour in the fall/winter

Late Apr • Leslie's trip home to England is delayed but Miss Goss and Doodie are sent back while Ruth and Leslie make their first trip to Hollywood to film Outward Bound (1930)

Leslie begins saving for a house which he eventually buys in 1933

Leslie sticks around Hollywood for the remainder of his six-month contract with Warners after the completion of Outward Bound but is then informed by the studio that his contract would not be renewed because he "had no sex-appeal"

Early Jul • Leslie returns to New York and then on to London determined never to do another picture

11 Jul • Leslie sails on the SS Île de France for England

29 Nov • Leslie's first American film Outward Bound (1930)—a talkie—is released

25 Dec • While on tour with Berkeley Square at the Selwyn Theatre in Chicago Leslie develops laryngitis and has to stop the play in Act II requiring him to perform an additional show on Sunday to make it up to his adoring fans

[To read Leslie's thoughts on the time-honored theater tradition of "the show must go on," click here.]

1931

22 Jan • Berkeley Square is in its last week in Chicago

2 Feb • Berkeley Square begins a two-week run at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles

Leslie begins a twenty-week contract with MGM but after reading the script of Never the Twain Shall Meet tells Irving Thalberg he thinks the story is "old and trite and had been done a thousand times before"

15 Aug • Leslie departs Hollywood for Quebec and the RMS Empress of Britain which will take him home to England where he will confer with Gilbert Miller regarding their upcoming productions

Mid Nov • Originally scheduled to sail aboard the MS Augustus from Genoa, Italy, during the week of November 9th, Leslie instead boards the RMS Olympic for New York the following week

Mid Nov • Leslie arrives in New York to begin a month of rehearsals starting November 24th for The Animal Kingdom under the direction of Gilbert Miller

28 Dec • Leslie goes out of town to Pittsburgh and the Nixon Theatre with The Animal Kingdom for two weeks

1932

4 Jan • The Animal Kingdom, originally planned to play in Philip Barry's birthplace of Rochester, New York, instead continues its out-of-town tryouts in Cleveland for a week during which time Lora Baxter replaces Kay Strozzi in the rôle of Cecelia Henry

12 Jan • The Animal Kingdom opens at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York on a Tuesday night and by Wednesday morning there is a long queue of admiring fans waiting at the box office for tickets • The play sells out every subsequent performance with large numbers standing in spite of the fact that it is playing at one of the largest theaters in New York • Due to low running costs the play brings in a very good profit

4 Apr • The Animal Kingdom moves to the Empire Theatre in New York

15 Apr • RKO purchases the film rights for The Animal Kingdom and plans to star Ann Harding opposite Leslie

17 Apr • Leslie's article "An Actor Speaks Up on a Pair of Old Traditions" appears in The New York Times

11 Jun • Leslie performs the rôle of Tom Collier at the Empire Theatre for the last time

Mid Jun • Leslie travels by train to Hollywood t
o film Smilin' Through (1932) with Norma Shearer and Fredric March

Mid Aug • In an ironic twist of fate, MGM fails to release Leslie from the set of Smilin' Through (1932) to begin filming RKO's production of The Animal Kingdom (1932) necessitating a casting change of Ann Harding for Irene Dunne in the rôle of Daisy Sage • The irony is that the movie rights were purchased by RKO as a vehicle for Ann Harding but scheduling conflicts had previously required the substitution of Irene Dunne for the rôle • Ilka Chase and William Gargan, both cast members in the original Broadway production, are also signed to reprise their rôles

Late Sep • Leslie Howard, Ann HardingIlka Chase and William Gargan begin rehearsals in Hollywood for the film version of The Animal Kingdom (1932)

Early Oct • Myrna Loy is signed for the rôle of Cecelia in The Animal Kingdom (1932)

1933

Leslie purchases his dream home in the Surrey hills naming it Stowe Maries

Summer • Leslie completes Columbia's first film in England, The Lady Is Willing (1934)

Oct • Leslie moves on to the Talbot Jennings play This Side Idolatry set in 1592 London with Leslie acting as Shakespeare • Leslie is fraught with anxiety in the weeks leading up to the opening of the play because his "part was long, the staging was complicated, and the play was difficult to pull together" • Leslie retires to his country house, Stowe Maries, and does not even appear for the dress rehearsal, but he pulls it all together for opening night

19 Oct • This Side Idolatry opens at the Lyric Theatre in London, and although it receives favorable critical reviews and Leslie's performance is applauded and called by some the finest of his career, and although some feel the play's audience is growing, Gilbert Miller pulls the play after just ten days

28 Oct • This Side Idolatry closes in London but due to the play's critical success, both Gilbert Miller and Leslie plan to bring the play to New York

1934

22 Nov • Leslie sails to New York from Italy aboard the SS Rex

26 Nov • Rehearsals begin in New York for Robert E. Sherwood's The Petrified Forest, a joint production of Leslie and Gilbert Miller

20 Dec • The Petrified Forest opens its out-of-town tryouts and world première at Parsons Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut

24 Dec • Leslie opens in The Petrified Forest at the Shubert Theatre in Boston

Late Dec • The Petrified Forest does big business in Boston as noted in The New York Times by Arthur Hopkins, Director

1935

7 Jan • Leslie opens in Robert E. Sherwood's The Petrified Forest in the rôle of Alan Squier • Leslie is living with Merle Oberon in a "somewhat luxurious hotel, while the family occupied another, more modest one, only a few streets away" • Ruth takes Wink with her to California seeking marriage advice from friends William and Mary Gargan but instead finds the couple having their own matrimonial crisis • When the Gargan's problems are solved, Ruth returns to New York with Wink to find Leslie laid up in bed with an attack of boils • Ruth, Doodie and Miss Goss attend to Leslie, along with a periodic nurse

2 Feb • Leslie appears at the Broadhurst with an infection and fever despite the advice of his physician who stands by during the performance

4 Feb • Leslie suffers a swollen right arm and high temperature from his boil and cancels his performance and is admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital where he remains

6 Feb • Leslie returns to the theater after missing several shows and is attended by a nurse and his physician during his performance, returning to the hospital afterwards with plans to repeat this routine until he is fully recovered

31 Mar • Leslie attends the Conference on Acting held in the Beekman Tower and gives the audience his opinion on Hollywood and movie-making [To read Leslie's comments, click here]

Apr • Leslie is named Favorite Actor by Fordham students

5 Apr • Leslie submits himself for interview by 300 journalism students at the Broadhurst Theatre [To read the article covering the event, click here]

16 Apr • Leslie's staph infection recurs causing him to miss another performance

7 May • Leslie is the guest of honor at the annual luncheon of the Princeton University chapter of the English-Speaking Union in Princeton, New Jersey

21 May • Leslie's boil problem returns and he misses several performances

11 Jun • Leslie gives the news media an opportunity to interview him at the Hotel Gotham where he announces his intention to play Hamlet next season in New York under his own management • Leslie also announces that he will not tour with The Petrified Forest nor will he play it in London

29 Jun • The Petrified Forest closes when Leslie leaves the cast to recuperate from his illness in spite of the fact that Glenn Hunter had been rehearsing to take over the rôle of Alan Squier • If Miller and Leslie are considering a production of The Petrified Forest for London, it must be presented before October when Leslie's contract with Miller expires

Jul • Although Leslie was scheduled to film the screen version of Lloyd C. Douglas's novel Green Light* and then Glorious, a story of Napoleon's brother, in Hollywood for Warner Brothers, he has developed another boil on his knee and sails instead with his family aboard the Monarch for a vacation at a cottage on the beach of the exclusive Mid Ocean Club colony in Bermuda [*Green Light (1937) is eventually made but with Errol Flynn in the starring rôle]

8 Jul • Unfortunately, Leslie's boil develops an infection and he is admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital in Bermuda

Late Jul • Leslie and his family sail for England

Fall • Leslie returns to Hollywood to film The Petrified Forest (1936)

1936

8 Sep • Leslie sails from England aboard the RMS Empress of Britain for Quebec and then on to New York to begin work on his production of Hamlet

19 Oct • Leslie opens for a one-week engagement to "a great ovation" as Hamlet at the Opera House in Boston with luke-warm reviews • Gertrude Elliott, who was to play the rôle of Gertrude, withdraws at the last moment and is replaced by Mary Servoss

21 Oct • Leslie and Ruth report being robbed of $14,000 in jewels from their hotel suite at the Boston Ritz-Carlton [Arthur Roennfeldt of 113 West Seventy-fifth Street, Manhattan, who bore a resemblance to Leslie, was arrested for the crime while walking down Columbus Avenue in New York in August 1944—after Leslie's death—and charged with burglary. Roennfeldt had entered the country illegally from Germany in 1926 and had previously served six years in prison. He was being investigated for other burglaries near his home in Manhattan at the time of his arrest. Ruth Howard was victimized again in 1953. This time it was her Dorking home. The thief stole $11,200 in jewelry.]

26 Oct • Hamlet begins its two-week try-out at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia

27 Oct • Leslie donates the proceeds of Hamlet presented at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia to the Philadelphia Orchestra

10 Nov • Hamlet opens at the Imperial Theatre in New York


13 Dec • Hamlet closes at the Imperial after only 39 performances and moves on to Chicago


25 Dec • Leslie begins his road tour of Hamlet in Chicago

1937


1938


Early 1938 • Leslie meets Violette Cunnington, secretary to Gabriel Pascal, at Pinewood Studios during filming of Pygmalion

Nov • Winkie and Doodie drive Leslie from Dorking to Southampton to catch his ship to New York, even riding out on the tender to see him off, not knowing that Violette awaits him on board • Leslie and Violette travel to New York aboard the SS Normandie along with Noël Coward and Lawrence Olivier

Nov • Leslie and Violette spend two weeks in New York where Leslie has discussions with Walter Futter, his co-producer of The Man Who Lost Himself, and RKO about the film


Nov • Leslie and Violette travel to Hollywood together


Late Fall • Leslie is offered the rôle of Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind • Leslie and Violette rent a house together in a quiet part of Beverly Drive which they share with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh [Leslie: "The little house was, for a change, not Spanish style but English...They called it 'Tudor' even though it had bougainvillea growing all round the bedroom windows. The garden was a lovely seclusion where great lilies grew in the open side by side with gardenias..."] • Leslie buys a red roadster to get around town

Intermezzo: A Love Story - actor and associate producer closely involved in the scenario and preparation of the film for production.  In Search of My Father, pg. 20

1939

Mid Apr • Ruth and Doodie join Leslie in Hollywood with Leslie purchasing a house at 606 N. Camden Drive (the previous owner was Hedy Lamarr) while Leslie maintains a separate residence with Violette on Beverly Drive

Leslie and Violette continue discussions with Walter Futter, his co-producer of The Man Who Lost Himself, and the script-writer, George O'Neil • Leslie and Violette even make arrangements with the two to meet them in the south of France at the Hotel du Cap, Antibes, on 1st October where Leslie and Violette plan to vacation before production begins

Ruth and Doodie leave California for New York by train with Leslie staying behind to finish retakes for Gone With The Wind and to view the final edited version of Intermezzo with David O. Selznick and Gregory Ratoff • Leslie then travels with Violette by plane to New York where he joins Ruth and Doodie at their hotel until Leslie, Ruth and Doodie sail together to England

22 Aug • Leslie returns to England for the last time aboard the SS Aquitania with Ruth and Doodie

28 Aug • Violette—along with Leslie's car—sails aboard the SS Île de France with plans to disembark at Le Havre where Leslie plans to meet her before they set out on their vacation

Leslie cables Violette to cancel plans to disembark in France and continue on to Plymouth as he expects England to declare war on Germany at any moment

3 Sep • Howard and Violette listen to the radio together in a flat in Chelsea Manor Street and hear England's declaration of war with Germany [Leslie: "We were reunited just in time for the first air-raid warning."]

Leslie takes a house in Stoke Poges

Sources:

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