David Ivor Davies, better known as Ivor Novello, was a Welsh composer, singer and actor who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the first half of the 20th century.
He was born into a musical family and his first successes were as a songwriter. His first big hit was "Keep the Home Fires Burning", which was enormously popular during the First World War. After the war, Novello contributed numbers to several successful musical comedies and was eventually commissioned to write the scores of complete shows. His 1917 show, Theodore & Co was a wartime hit. He wrote his musicals in the style of operetta and often composed his music to the librettos of Christopher Hassall.
In the 1920s, he turned to acting, first in films and then on stage, with considerable success in both. He starred in two silent films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Lodger and Downhill, both in 1927. On stage, he played the title character in the first London production of Liliom (1926). He also appeared in his own lavish West End productions of musicals. The best known of these were Glamorous Night (1935) and The Dancing Years (1939). Novello later went to Hollywood and appeared in numerous successful films, but at the same time he continued to have successes on stage. From the 1930s he often performed with Zena Dare, writing parts for her in his works. His later stage successes were Perchance to Dream (1945), King's Rhapsody (1949) and Gay's the Word (1951).