During the Second World War, Coward served as a British agent; although on the surface living the life of the playboy, he gathered intelligence to assist the war effort, mixing with influential people on both sides of the Atlantic and reporting back to British Intelligence. He also entertained the troops, and wrote three very fine songs inspired by that senseless conflict: "Don't Let's Be Beastly To The Germans
" (which was misunderstood by the gullible), "Could You Please Oblige Us With A Bren Gun?
" (a satire on the Home Guard), and his finest, indeed one of his very finest, "London Pride
", a defiant riposte to a bombing raid on the capital.
After the War, he enjoyed a Renaissance, Coward himself wrote: "In 'The Fifties' I emerged, to my own and every one else's astonishment, as a highly successful cabaret entertainer." This included four seasons at the Café de Paris and a season on "a rather excessive salary" at the Desert Inn, Las Vegas, where he performed two shows a night at 9.15 and 12.15 for nearly fifty minutes. In Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics
, this salary is given as $35,000 a week, and in Sheridan Morley's biography as $40,000. Whatever, the fifties were a fabulous time for a man who although not yet in his twilight years was now past his prime. Although he had first appeared on the stage as long ago as 1911, had starred in his own productions, and had long sung on the radio, it was not until 1955 that Coward made his TV debut as a performer, in a CBS special with Mary Martin, in the wake of his Desert Inn triumph.
His last complete musical was the 1961 production Sail Away
, though the following year he wrote the score for The Girl Who Came To Supper