No songwriter is more frequently rediscovered, decade after decade, always with renewed surprise at the depth and breadth of his work, than Cole Porter.
It's easy to see why Porter keeps coming back. Like Irving Berlin, he wrote words and music, but unlike the self-taught Berlin, Porter was a trained and erudite composer. His lyrics, with their irreverent topical references, work as superior light verse (now the esteemed Library of America is contemplating a Porter anthology), while his melodies are structurally complicated yet listener-friendly.
Over a span of 40 years the urbane Porter wrote some of Broadway's greatest musicals and the music for a number of motion pictures.
His music and lyrics made scores of songs all-time favorites, including "Night and Day," "Begin the Beguine," "What Is This Thing Called Love?," "In the Still of the Night," "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "I Get a Kick Out of You."
Porter's first musical comedy effort in 1916 was "See America First" and it flopped. But his second attempt three years later, "Hitchy-Koo" was a hit. The show ran for two years and one of its hit songs, "An Old Fashioned Garden," sold more than 2 million copies.
In the years after his crippling 1937 equestrian accident, he scattered some of his finest songs in uneven stage shows, until the 1948 masterpiece "Kiss Me, Kate" spurred the first Porter renaissance.
The second occurred only eight years later, when in quick succession a woefully expurgated film version (the second) of "Anything Goes" was offset by the smash double album "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook" (one of the bestselling jazz albums of all time) and the film "High Society," in which Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly introduced Cole's last million-seller, "True Love."
But although his songs sparked a dozen films, Porter had never been an easy fit for Hollywood. His 1932 stage show "Gay Divorce" was adapted as a 1934 vehicle for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, "The Gay Divorcee," with all but one of his songs cut.
Only four of Porter's songs were Oscar-nominated. He never won.
|1936||Best Song||"I've Got You Under My Skin" from Born to Dance||Nomination|
|1941||Best Song||"Since I Kissed My Baby Goodbye" from You'll Never Get Rich||Nomination|
|1943||Best Song||"You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" from Something to Shout About||Nomination|
|1956||Best Song||"True Love" from High Society||Nomination|