A brief encounter with Noël Coward
Diana eventually moved to the Tasmanian town of Oatlands to support her husband Ian Gibson, who she met in 1935. In a Sydney interview in June 1938, Diana recalled how she found romance and marriage in ten short days while sailing to New Zealand with the Yes Madam company.
She met Ian on board, accounting ‘for the artist’s unshakeable belief in love at first sight’.
They married at St Luke’s Church a week after their arrival in New Zealand. She recalled that, ‘Neither bride nor groom who came straight from rehearsal at the theatre thought of a bouquet. But the best man did. He purchased some tulips … and there were no parents to stage a reception. But the clergyman and his good wife saw to that.'
They were separated shortly after the reception when the bridegroom went to England for work and she fulfilled her theatrical obligations, which included the shows Yes Madam and Jill Darling. They were eventually reunited over six months later!
Her stage and radio career continued in Tasmania. Diana’s daughter Carol recounts that, during the Second World War, the Red Cross organised a travelling show to Tasmania with Noël Coward. Diana played the lead role in the supporting play and, while they were never formally introduced, they saw each other quite regularly.
At a farewell party, the hostess insisted on introducing Diana to Noël. The star replied in his 'inimitably high camp manner to his highly respectable and then highly shocked hostess – "My dear, we’ve been practically living together!"'.
The Cinesound casting books feature in the Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits exhibition. Explore more of the casting books on the Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits website.
A National Film and Sound Archive and National Portrait Gallery exhibition supported by the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program, the Starstruck exhibition will next be presented by Samstag Museum of Art, 14 September – 30 November 2018.