September 16th, 2005
Cole Porter
About the Musician and Composer

“Birds do it. Bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.”

“Night and Day,” “I Get A Kick Out of You,” “You’re the Top,” “Begin the Beguine,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” — some of the cleverest, funniest, and most romantic songs ever written came from the pen of Cole Porter. He was unmatched as a tunesmith, and his Broadway musicals — from “Kiss Me Kate” and “Anything Goes” to “Silk Stockings” and “Can Can” — set the standards of style and wit to which today’s composers and lyricists aspire.

Born in Peru, Indiana in 1891, Porter studied music from an early age, and began composing as a teenager. After high school he attended Yale University, where he was voted “most entertaining man.” Though he went on to law school at Harvard University, his interest remained in music. From Harvard he continued to write, and a number of his pieces were used in Broadway musicals.

In 1916, his first full score was performed. The musical, “See America First”, was a flop and closed after only fifteen performances. He soon began to travel around Europe and got an apartment in Paris. This was the beginning of his life long affection for the city, which he would return to in songs such as “You Don’t Know Paree” and “I Love Paris.” During his time abroad Porter contributed to many musicals including “Hitchy-Koo” and the “Greenwich Village Follies”. It wasn’t, however, until his song “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love” appeared in the 1928 musical Paris, that he had his first big hit.

A contemporary of George Gershwin, Richard Rogers and Jerome Kern, Porter broke from the simple sentimentality that dominated Tin Pan Alley. His urbane wit and musical complexity won him the affection of the nation. Songs such as “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “I Get A Kick Out of You,” and “Too Darn Hot,” became instant hits and have remained classics. While his name was associated with many of these upbeat show toons, a more melancholy side could be seen in such wonderful songs as “Miss Otis Regrets” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.”

Despite a horseback riding accident in 1937 that crippled him for life, Porter produced much of his best work in the 1940s and 50s. He wrote hundreds of songs for dozens of Broadway shows, movie musicals, and television specials. His most successful musical, “Kiss Me Kate”, opened in 1948 and ran for over a thousand performances. A recluse in his later years, Porter died in California in 1964. Today his legacy lives on in productions of his musicals and in recordings of artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne.

Connected Artists:

Martha Graham

Greenwich Village

Related Web sites:

Official Site

The Great Sophisticate

Cole Porter Reference Guide

  • dolores keaton

    Please don’t ever let his music be forgotten,we need it more today than ever. I was lucky enough to be given some of the first sheet music from my grandmother and still enjoy singing it.

  • Peter Langley

    Would have thought within this brief resume. the name of Sinatra would have been mentioned. I cant think of one without the other.

  • John Trotta

    Perhaps the reason for the omission is this: When Sinatra first met Cole Porter, he told him, Mr. Porter, I greatly admire your talent and your songs.” To whick Porter replied, “Well then, why don’t you sing them as I wrote them?”

  • Bill

    I like Music

  • renisha

    this music yall talkin bout is lame yu need 2 start listen daddy yankk e lil wanye stuff likme that hip hop yall is LAME LMAO

  • Ronnie

    renisha, this site is obviously not for you…
    Cole porter was around long before puff daddy or tupac. As a matter of fact, I don’t think either of those “artists” would be who they are if it wasn’t for the music Mr. Porter CREATED, for them to “sample” then slaughter for your enjoyment. Learn your musical facts before posting such an ignorant comment. thank you and have a blessed day!

  • lalalalala

    hes sooo cute

  • Paul Orlando

    The guy was a marvel, lyrics so clever cool cool COOL,
    IF YOU FAILED TO GET THAT THE MAN WAS COOL

  • ed

    This guys awsome! he has written some rally great songs

  • Levi

    Hey, the new Cole Porter site is http://www.coleporteronline.com

  • Em

    Cole Porter has become one of my favorite musicians. I’m astounded by his creations. I’ve been lucky enough to perform one of his musicals, Anything Goes, and that’s how I learned about his music. Ever since, I’ve been absolutely addicted.

  • Susan

    Cole Porter is an American Icon, he created songs that are timeless. He was a genius of american cultural music.
    For anyone that enjoys rhythm and good lyrics, songs that you can dance to and sing to. Cole Porter is One of the Best.

    To Renisha, I feel sorry for you that you havent gotten past the 3rd grade. your the one that is LAME.

    Cole Porter ” Your the Tops” and I will remember YOU ” Night and Day.”

  • Howard

    Cole Porter’s era was a Golden Age of American popular song — not to mention jazz and the big bands. Gershwin. Ellington, Armstrong, Basie, Goodman, Rogers and Hart, Berlin, Kern… the list goes on and on. It was all music, from start to finish. Those cats had to play, had to sing — the mics and sound-systems back then were primitive.

    Ellington to hip-hop: if you can’t see a falling off, I can only pray for you.

  • Tez

    Such an intelligent and talented man.

  • Justin

    he’s was a great man and did a great job on his work

  • gene

    He is the greatest.

  • Jacob sekgothe

    My favourate song of them all is every time we say goodbey, i was wondering who sings that song

  • Dorothea Wiley

    Just saw and heard a production of Red,Hot & Cole, done by the Shiloh Theater here in Martin County – what a delight. Moved me to look up more about Cole Porter – I know I saw Cary Grant in the movie Night and Day – but can’t remember much about it.

  • Ethel Robin

    I just saw De Lovely on DVD and learned much about Cole Porter that I never knew when I saw many of his shows and heard the songs that had hidden meanings in many cases. Now I really appreciate him.

  • SusieJD

    Cole Porter really knew romance. He put his heart into his music. I’m old enough to remember when he produced his music and musicals. Night and Day is the song I think of when I look at my husband. There will never be another Cole Porter.

  • Bridget Smith

    Now that me friends is how you leave your mark on this world.

  • JIM RIDER

    Wayback in 1940 I worked at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NY City. the very highest floors of the hotel were
    comprised of apartments as opposed to rooms. Cole Porter lived here then. I sit here now unable to
    remember other well-know people who also lived in the Waldorf . I write this now as I just finished viewing
    “De-lovely” and I am reminded of how exclusive he was. We could not enter the apartment without phoning the apartment and arrange a short visit we had to make there—perhaps pick up the remainsof a room service dinner. Porter would be out of sight elsewhere in the apartment. With this isolation,yet such beautiful, message sending, ear pleasing music. He was a gift!

  • Razzle Dazzle 34

    This dude is tight! im doin a report on him and this dude has serious swagger!

  • Hemogloben

    this guy was a talented musician but school has slaughtered Jazz music for me in general. It is sad.

  • Tilda

    This is first time that I have ever felt the urge to write compelling enough to leave a comment — and no wonder, Porter was and is the “Top.” I pity all those at the bottom who can’t see up to the inspirational skies and thus fail to realize where the pinnacle(s) of musical talent resides. Perhaps one day children such as Renisha will grow up and stop playing with the musical equivalent of tying one’s shoelaces. Until then, I gather that her taste will continue to be all knotted up in mediocrity.

    P.S. to fellow Porter worshippers, if you haven’t already, check out the “Over the Rainbow” vocal wonders of Ginny Simms in the Grant version of Porter’s life, “Night and Day”: She does Ella, Sinatra, Sarah, and all the other vocal gems of the 30’s and 40′ s and 50’s and early 60’s, proud.

  • Bill

    Whoever wrote up the synoposis regarding Cole Porter made a rather big mistake when they said that Cole Porter did his best work in the 40’s and 50’s. His best work by far was inclusive of the 30’s. He had a few songs in the 40’s and 50’s and even the 20’s, but the 30’s were by the far his best years as far as song writing goes.

  • Sheila

    I have loved and played dozens of Cole’s compositions for well over 50 years and to me he was/is the top composer of popular music in the 20th century. I would like to learn more about his life and times, the good and the dark parts, too. Is there a biography of Cole out there?

  • Ruthie Bottiger

    I would very much like to see this episode of American Masters and the later episode. I have contacted PBS at least five times,and they inform me they are no longer available for viewing nor can they be purchased. PBS informed me that the episodes are the property of WNEP channel 13 inNY. WNEP finally responded to my request for info about this program,and politely told me that no PBS related materials on Cole Porter are now norm will ever be available.I find this lubricious. where did they go? Into the stratosphere? And why is the educator info for using The Cole Porter Story as a teaching aide on the educator page? I apologize for the very negative tone ,but I have been inquiring both by Mail and electronically about these two
    Programs for almost two years, and the only response is a very polite paraphrase of no longer availablie,we will not rebroadcast.Why?

  • E. Harvey

    I was born and raised in Peru, IN, Cole’s home town. In my younger days, I would never have imagined that I would become the docent at the Cole Porter Birthplace/Inn. I have greeted visitors from all over the US and many countries. He is truly the most famous composer of all time. Recently, gentlemen from Germany and Scotland came solely to see everything Cole Porter. His 1955 Cadillac is in our museum among other treasures of Cole’s. We have a Cole Porter Festival every year the weekend closest to his birthday, June 9.

  • compare Utah colleges

    this guy was a talented musician but school has slaughtered Jazz music for me in general. It is sad.

  • Judy D. Johnson

    Cole Porter will never die as long as there is music….
    If you haven’t seen the movie ” De-Lovely ” it is a must see…. If you are to young to know who Cole Porter is ,then watch this movie…You will love him ….!!!!!! You may cry a little also…Some of his songs just tug at your heart….Got to love him…..

  • john grossi

    JUST WENT TO SEE COLE PORTER’S PIANO AT THE WALDORF ASTORIS WHERE IT HAS REMAINED SINCE HIS DEATH. WHAT A PRIVLIDGE

  • Margrét Sæunn Hannesdóttir

    On the MGM TV channel I´ve senn De-Lovely many times, I always cry a little, but the songs they´re just divine. If I´m alone I turn up the volume, sing and dance, I can´t help it. I,ve known most of these songs for a long time and I knew of Cole Porter and for time in my younger years I might have thought him a bit old fashioned but after seeing De-Lovely I´m hooked and I dread the day when MGM will take De-Lovely off their movie list. As I said maybe it´s my age and I know my interest in all kind of arts has changed through the years but now I´m just grateful and it´s my goal to collect as many CD I can with soundtracks from his shows or with his songs sung by great singers. Speaking of my age maybe there is hope for renisha yet

  • avk

    So,if not Sinatra, who would be a good interpreter of Cole Porter music?

  • Melinda

    I sooooooooo love Cole Porter and been buying whatever musicals are available from stores/ ebay/amazon.
    I started to transfer Cole porter’s song to a DVD. Some of them from Betamax! I haven’t finished because my Beta recorder went kaput and I just found someone who can fix it! Wish me luck!

  • Todd
  • karen marie

    What is the correct musical terminology for the way that Cole Porter started his songs?
    You know, the kind of talking about something and then he led into the song.
    Thank YOU!

  • don wong

    yes…by all means… how did we miss the movie…DE LOVELY
    when it came out during the middle 2004s… and FRANK
    did sing all of Cole Porter’s songs… we love Natalie Cole’s
    song in the movie also… RIP …mr Cole Porter

  • Shelley

    Karen,
    It is called the verse. Many composers of the Great American Songbook used the verse to lead into the main body of the song. Most songs used the form, verse, A, A, B, A.

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