1891 - 1964

"In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking but now, God knows, anything goes."

- Cole Porter

Cole Porter remains one of America's all-time greatest composers and songwriters – one of the few who wrote both the lyrics and the music. His hits include the musical comedies The Gay Divorce (1932), Anything Goes (1934), Panama Hattie (1939), Kiss Me, Kate (1948) and Can-Can (1952); and featured songs like "Night and Day", "I Get a Kick out of You", "I've Got You Under My Skin" and “Begin the Beguine.” He worked with legendary stars Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Fanny Brice, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby, Mary Martin and the Andrews Sisters; and is considered one of the principal contributors to The Great American Songbook. He married his close friend, socialite Linda Lee Thomas, in 1919 – a union that assured her social status while increasing his chances for success in his career. They lived a happy, publicly acceptable life, but Porter’s reputation as a regular fixture at some of underground Hollywood’s most notorious gay gatherings led to hushed rumors within upper-crust circles that threatened Thomas’s social standing. They separated in the early 1930s (but did not divorce) and remained close friends. In 1937 Porter was crippled when his legs were crushed in a riding accident. He was in the hospital for months, struggling against mental and physical decline, though he continued to write with some success for the next several years. But the death of his beloved mother in 1952, followed by his wife’s passing in 1954, and the amputation of his right leg in 1958, took its toll. His spirit broken, reliant on alcohol and pain killers, and fighting gastric ulcers, pneumonia, and numerous compounding maladies, Porter slipped into severe depression and never wrote another song. He spent the remaining years of his life in seclusion with his long-time companion, Ray Kelly, whose children still receive half of Porter’s royalties. He died of kidney failure on October 15, 1964. He was 73.

Plaque Sponsor

Gregory "Blue" Pittsley in memory of his father Robert Pittsley and all LGBT people whose dreams were never realized because of the limitations society place upon them

Lesson Plan


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States France

Era/Epoch Great Depression (1929-1939) Interwar Period (1918-1939) World War I (1914-1918) World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution

Art, Music, Literature & Theater



Social Sciences


US History

Commemorations & Honors

Cole Porter Festival in Hometown of Peru, Indiana (Annually)

American Theater Hall of Fame Inductee

Tony Award Best Original Score for Kiss Me Kate (1949)

Grammy Award Best Soundtrack Album for Can Can (1961)

Posthumous Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee (1970)

Posthumous Grammy Trustee's Award (1989)

Posthumous Hollywood Walk of Fame Star For Recording (2007)

Portrait in the Hoosier Heritage Gallery in the Governor of Indiana's Office (2010)

Posthumous Grammy Hall of Fame Inductee For Anything Goes (2012)

Posthumous Great American Songbook Foundation Legend Award (2012)


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Biography Vetted, Edited, and Certified By
David Shengold
Music Historian
Image Rights Usage Granted By
Corbis Images
Image Source for Bronze Casting
Corbis Images
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell