b. Charles Blake Cochran, 25 September 1872, Sussex, England, d. 31 January 1951, London, England. Britain’s leading theatrical producer of musicals, revues, plays, operettas, and so much more during the 20s and 30s. A master showman, the like of which has never been seen before or since, he is said to have been annoyed when referred to as ‘the English Ziegfeld’, but then Florenz Ziegfeld did not present flea circuses, boxing matches, rodeos, or run the Royal Albert Hall. There were similarities though: both men specialised in lavish and spectacular theatrical extravaganzas, and, while the American had his lovely ‘Ziegfeld Girls’, the London stage was graced by ‘Mr. Cochran’s Young Ladies’. Many of these talented and delightful ‘young things’ went on to become stars in their own right. Cochran is credited with discovering or significantly promoting Gertrude Lawrence, Tilly Losch, Jessie Matthews, Anna Neagle, Larry Adler, Evelyn Laye, John Mills, Alice Delysia, Hermione Baddeley, Elisabeth Welch, Binnie Hale, Beatrice Lillie, Pirandello, Douglas Byng, and numerous others.
However, Cochran’s most famous association was with the ‘Master’ himself, Noël Coward. After inviting Coward to write the words and music for the revue On With The Dance in 1925, during the next nine years Cochran produced some of the composer’s most celebrated works, including This Year Of Grace, Bitter Sweet, Cavalcade, Private Lives, Cochran’s 1931 Revue, Words And Music, and Conversation Piece. They parted in 1934 because Coward thought that the impresario had cheated him out of his fair share of royalties. From 1914 through to 1949, Cochran’s London productions included Odds And Ends, More, Half-Past Eight, The Better ’Ole, As You Were, Afgar, London, Paris And New York, League Of Notions, Phi-Phi, Music Box Revue, Little Nellie Kelly, Cochran’s Revue Of 1926, Blackbirds, One Dam Thing After Another, Castles In The Air, Wake Up And Dream, Ever Green, Cochran’s 1931 Revue, Helen!, The Cat And The Fiddle, Music In The Air, Nymph Errant, Streamline, Anything Goes, Blackbirds Of 1936, Home And Beauty, Paganini, Happy Returns, Lights Up, Big Ben, Bless the Bride, and Tough At The Top. Early in 1951 Cochran was involved in a terrible accident at his London home. He scalded himself whilst taking a bath and was taken to the Westminster Hospital, but died on 31 January.