Cole Porter

By: Franklin Bruno
June 9, 2009

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Called by collaborator Moss Hart “the greatest amateur I ever met,” COLE PORTER (1891-1964) treated the plots and characters of his Broadway shows and Hollywood films as shim-thin pretexts for his brilliant, brittle, notably frank songs. “I Get a Kick Out of You” allowed that “Some get a kick from cocaine,” while the streetwalker’s lament “Love For Sale” so scandalized 1930 audiences that it was reassigned from a white singer to an African-American one after a few performances. (Of which production? The New Yorkers, but you see my point.) Still, certain shows have endured: when dramatic unity became de rigueur post-Oklahoma, Porter rallied with 1948’s half-Shakespearean Kiss Me, Kate, surely the first musical to name-drop the Kinsey Report.

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Charles Wuorinen |

READ MORE about members of the Modernist Generation (1884–93).

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