The definitive biography of Cole Porter – the urbane American composer of musical comedies and of over 1000 songs – which reveals the darker side of the star whose life and work epitomizes the romance of Café Society.
Cole Porter – composer of Night and Day, Easy to Love and I’ve Got You Under My Skin – is familiar to three generations. His tunes conjure up romance, glamour and cultivated sensuality.
William McBrien charts Porter’s life, beginning on a fruit farm in Indiana and moving on to Yale, Harvard and the Paris Conservatoire. After roaming bohemian Europe for a decade with his rich and beautiful wife, Porter made his name in the 1930s with hit shows like Anything Goes. A riding accident left him in constant pain, but he continued to write shows like Kiss Me Kate and Silk Stockings until his death in 1964.
McBrien contrasts Porter’s refined, elegant music with the pain and passion of a life which mixed devotion to his wife with numerous homosexual love affairs. Having talked to friends and colleagues (including Bob Hope, Diana Vreeland, Stephen Sondheim) who have never spoken about him before, and researched Porter’s lyrics and correspondence, McBrien makes new links between his life and work, revealing how his own particular brand of hedonism was his protection against encroaching darkness.
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COLE pORTER composed some of this century’s most evocative music, including 'Night and Day', 'Easy to Love' and 'I've Got You Under My Skin'. His musical scores, notably 'Kiss Me Kate', 'High Society', 'Silk Stockings' and 'Can-Can', shaped three decades of movie-making. Porter worked with everyone who was anyone: Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Mary Martin and many others.
Interweaving his life and music, William McBrien contrasts Porter's raffish, elegant scores with the pain and passion of a life which mixed devotion to his wife with numerous homosexual love affairs. This definitive biography contains frank interviews with friends and colleagues who until now have never spoken about Cole Porter. Now, at last, we can fully understand the man, the music and its magic – as well as the darker side of the star whose live and work epitomizes the romance of café society.
“McBrien has done a superb job, uncovering the real man behind the carapace of style”
“A thorough and balanced account of an exceptional life, diligently written.”
“This new biography will tell you all you need to know about Old King Cole. And then some.”
“Fascinating . . . not least for its portrait of a vastly rich lifestyle”
William McBrien is the author of Stevie – a biography of Stevie Smith (Oxford University Press), which was published to great acclaim.
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Book Description Harper Collins, London, 1999. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. 12mo - over 6¾ - 7¾" tall. No inscriptions; coy appears unread. Bookseller Inventory # 002999