On This Gay Day: Songwriter Cole Porter was born

Cole Porter wrote a string of classic hits across many decades

Cole Porter was born on this day in 1891. He went to compose many hit s songs and musicals from the 1930’s to the 1950’s.

Born into a wealthy US family he was easily able to follow his dream of making music. During the first World War Porter moved from New York to France where he reportedly served in the French Foreign Legion, after the war he lived an apartment in Paris where he was known for throwing great parties.

Porter was by all accounts gay, but married socialite Linda Lee Thomas. She was a divorcee and eight years his senior, and well aware of his homosexuality. The marriage gave him the front required at a time when homosexuality was frowned upon.

After having some success with writing music his big break came with the musical Paris which opened on Broadway in 1928. Among it’s songs was Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love which would later be a hit for Eartha Kitt, and also be featured in the 90’s cult classic film Tank Girl.

Over the next three decades he’s write over 40 musicals and revues, and a log list of hit songs including Love for Sale, Night and Day, You’re the Top, After You Who, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, True Love, So In Love, Too Darn Hot, I Love Paris, Anything Goes, I Get a Kick Out of You  and Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.

Among his most popular musicals were Silk Stockings, High Society, Rosalie, Anything Goes, Can-Can, You’ll Never Get Rich and Kiss Me Kate. His music was recorded by Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, and more recently Robbie Williams, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.

In 1990 his music was used to highlight the fight against HIV and AIDS. The album Red Hot + Blue saw a diverse range of artists come together to give fresh interpretations of his songs.

Neneh Cherry adapted his song I’ve Hot You Under My Skin to deliver an AIDS awareness message. Also on the album was Annie Lennox, KD Lang, U2, Sinead O’Connor, Erasure, Jimmy Somerville, while The Pogues re-teamed with Kirsty Macoll, and Iggy Pop sang a duet with Debbie Harry. The accompanying video album included clips made by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Wim Wenders, Jonathan Demme, Mathew Rolston and Mark Pellington.

Linda Lee Thomas, died in 1954, and in 1956 Porter suffered from a series of ulcers on his leg which lead to an amputation. After this he never wrote any more music, and he he lived largely in seclusion in his New York apartment, but spent his summers in California.

He died in 1964, aged 73. The grand piano which he wrote many of his songs on sits in the Lobby of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, where is is often played. His life was brought to the big screen in the 2004 film De-Lovely. Kelvin Kline played Porter and Ashley Judd plated his wife Linda.

In 2014 Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to be on the cover of TIME

In 2014 actor Laverne Cox made history when she became the first transgender person to be featured on the cover of TIME magazine.

Cox made her mark in the TV series Orange is the New Black where she played inmate and hairdresser Sophie Bursett. After appearing all seven season of the show Cox went on to appear in the series Doubt, The Blacklist, The Mindy Project and Dear White People.

She played the character of Dr Frank-N-Furter is the television remake of The Rocky Horror Show and has also turned her hand to singing, releasing several singles.

Cox also appeared in and served as a producer on the documentary Disclosure which gave an in-depth look at the ives of transgender people on screen, and how they have been treated in American culture.

Cox’s most recent role has been in the Netflix series Inventing Anna where she played personal trainer Kacy Duke. The casting of Cox in the role was notable, as she was given the opportunity to play a real-life person, who herself is cis-gender.

This post was first published in 2022. 

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