Friday, June 9, 2017

Hoosier Dusty Files - June 09 1893, Cole Porter Born

A Year of Indiana History - 2016
A Year of Indiana History - 2016

June 09 1893, Cole Porter Born
Cole Porter (June 9, 1891 – October 15, 1964)
The only son of Kate Cole and Sam Porter, Cole was a native of Peru, Indiana. His parents chose the name as a combination of his mother and father's name. From an early age, Cole's mother dominated the relationship, reducing his father, a pharmacist, to a minor role. Kate's father, one of the richest men in Indiana, also played a major role in the family. He had built the Porter's home on his farm, called Westleigh Farms.
Early Training in Music
Cole's mother encouraged his music. By six years old he was playing the violin and by eight he played the piano. He preferred the piano, composing his first songs by 1901, when he was eight. At fourteen, in an attempt to make him seem more talented than his peers, his influential mother managed to get his school records changed so it appeared he was a year younger than he really was. He attended Worcester Academy in Worchester, Massachusetts where he became the class valedictorian. He would return to Indiana rarely after his admittance to Worchester
Attendance at Yale and Harvard
He went to Yale, studying English, music and French. While at Yale he wrote over 300 songs. During his Yale years his homosexual proclivities surfaced, a trait that would influence his later life.  His grandfather disapproved of his musical studies, instead preferring that he study law. He sent him to Harvard Law School, where Cole struggled. Unknown to his grandfather, during his second year he switched to music. He would later abandon college and move to New York to pursue his musical career.
Marriage and Beginnings of Career
Porter moved to Paris at the outbreak of World War I to help with the war effort. He reportedly enlisted in the French Foreign Legion where he served in North Africa. During his time in Paris he threw lavish parties rife with drugs, bi-sexual activity and other scandalous behavior. In 1918 he met and married Linda Lee Thomas, a rich socialite from Louisville, Kentucky. The two would form a devoted union that would last until Linda's death in 1954. His first hit song appeared in 1919.
Career and Accident
Porter would spend the next seventeen years writing songs and producing hits. His music appeared on Broadway and in movies. He managed to ascend to the top tier of Broadway musicians, a rare honor. In 1937 he suffered a debilitating accident while riding a horse in New York. His horse slipped and rolled on his legs, crushing them. After recovering from the accident, though still productive, his work declined. He managed a comeback in the mid 1940's, but his mother's death in 1952 and his wife's in 1954 combined with complications from his leg injuries caused his work to come to a virtual standstill. Doctors amputated his right leg in 1958, after which he went into seclusion and never wrote again. He died in 1964 after producing over 800 musical compositions and creating a legacy in Broadway, Hollywood and beyond.

Indiana possesses a rich history that is fun to read and learn. This Hoosier Dusty Files is in an easy to read “this day in history format” and includes articles from the author's A Year in Indiana History series. Visitors may read the articles as they appear or purchase the book:
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning

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