Composer, Lyricist. He wrote musicals and hit songs for four decades. He was rich, lived in luxury, had a staff to attend to his every need, privileged, attended the finest schools and above all musically talented. The songs he composed for his many musicals have become American classics. He was born Cole Albert Porter, the only child of Samuel Fenwick a druggist and Kate Cole in Peru, Indiana. He was raised on a fruit ranch in the rural Peru area. Cole was proficient in horseback riding by age six which would ultimately be his undoing, at eight was enrolled at Indiana's Marion Conservatory studying the piano and violin and at ten manifested his future legacy by composing his first song entitled "Song of The Birds." He attended Worcester Academy in Massachusetts graduating class valedictorian from the elite school. His graduation present was a summer of touring in Europe given to him by J.G. Cole his multimillionaire grandfather, the richest man in Indiana. Upon his return, enrolled at Yale University becoming a member of the Freshman Glee Club then its president during his senior year. He had his first song "Bridget McGuire" published and was active in the athletic program performing as a football cheerleader leaving them with a Cole Porter legacy having written the Yale Bulldogs fight songs. With a BA degree from Yale, he attended Harvard Law school but not to his liking transferred to the Harvard School of music. He had a respite from learning institutions with the start of World War I, serving in France with the 32nd Field Artillery and worked with the Bureau of the Military Attache. He stayed on in Paris after the war renting an apartment in Paris and enrolling in a French school specializing in music composition. He married wealthy divorcee Linda Lee Thomas which would last for thirty five years until her death. Their stay in Paris was an extravaganza of entertaining with lavish over the horizon parties. Upon returning to America, Porter began cranking out musicals and tunes. A fall while horseback riding would prove to be the defining moment in his life. Both his legs were smashed with severe nerve injury. He was wheelchair bound for five years and the next twenty saw him endure over 30 operations to save his legs. Then things became ever more unbearable, his doting mother died of a cerebral hemorrhage followed by the death of his wife. Then his right leg was amputated. There would be no more songs. His health steadily declined and so did he. A deep depression followed. He refused to wear an artificial limb and lived as a recluse in his apartment at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City wallowing in alcohol and self pity while fighting overwhelming despair. He refused to attend a "Salute to Cole Porter" night at the Metropolitan Opera house, then a commencement exercise at Yale University when he was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Porter was conspicuously absence during a mammoth surprise 70th birthday party at the Orpheum Theater in New York. After what appeared to be a successful kidney stone operation at St. John's hospital in Santa Monica, California, he died very unexpectedly. His funeral instructions stated no funeral or memorial service and he was directly buried adjacent to his father and wife in Peru, Indiana. His legacy...After his crippling injury, Cole Porter produced much of his best work. He wrote hundreds of songs for dozens of Broadway shows, movie musicals, and television specials. Porter's first big hit was "Paris." His most successful musical "Kiss Me Kate," ran for over a thousand performances. He wrote seven other musicals that ran for over 400 performances each..."Du Barry Was a Lady, Panama Hattie, Let's Face it, Something for the Boys, Mexican Hayride, Can-Can and Silk Stockings." A few others..."Hollywood Canteen, High Society, Any Thing Goes and Red, Hot and Blue." He composed over 1,400 songs. Some of the many ..."You Do Something To Me,What Is This Thing Called Love?, Night and Day, Begin the Beguine, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Don't Fence Me In, I Love Paris, I've Got You Under My Skin, In the Still of The Night, You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To and You're The Top." He was pictured on a 29¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Performing Arts series, issued 22 May 1991, celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. He was the focus of the movie "Night and Day," starring Cary Grant made in 1946 which Cole Porter termed fiction. Winner of two Tony Awards for "Kiss Me, Kate", Best Composer and Lyricist, and for music and lyrics as part of the Best Musical Award. His musical, "Anything Goes" garnered the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Outstanding Musical Production and then the London Critics Circle Award (Drama) for Best Musical.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield
Linda Belle Lee Porter