The songwriter and composer Cole Porter has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 43 years after his death. Mike O'Sullivan reports that some who knew the Broadway great gathered in Hollywood to celebrate his music.
Cole Porter wrote more than 1,500 songs, including such American standards as "I Love Paris," "My Heart Belongs To Daddy," and "Let's Fall in Love."
In a Hollywood nightclub, the musical duo KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler performed for a crowd of veteran Broadway and Hollywood stars, some of whom knew and worked with Porter.
The actress Anne Jeffreys remembers Cole Porter for his clever, sophisticated lyrics and beautiful music. She spent two years on the road with the national company of Porter's hit musical "Kiss Me Kate."
"887 consecutive, I never missed a show, performances. We opened in Los Angeles for three months. Then we played San Francisco for three months. And then we were in Chicago for 11 months, of which we played seven nights a week. So every time it got dark, I just headed for the theater, and it became my life," she said.
Then she played in "Kiss Me Kate" on Broadway for another year.
Betty Garrett got her big break on Broadway in the Cole Porter show "Something for the Boys," and says she was in awe of the great composer. She says that Porter was quick to change something that was not working out. She recalls how he changed a song that came in the second act of the play, as the heroine was in a railroad station. "And I was sitting on my suitcase singing very sadly, 'So long, San Antonio. Too bad we had to part.' Well, the audience fell asleep, it was so slow and so sad. So naturally Cole had to write another song for me," she said.
Porter asked her what kind of music she liked. She said traditional folk songs and boogie woogie, a lively form of jazz that dates to the 1920s. Within two hours, Porter had created a composition with elements of both. It arrived at her hotel room in an envelope.
"And in it was this song that went, (singing) "I'm in love with a soldier boy, so in love with a soldier boy." Ethel Merman also sang the song, and Betty Garrett says it was a show-stopper whoever sang it.
Cole Porter was born in the small town of Peru, Indiana. A distant cousin, Daniel Roberts, came from Indiana to Hollywood for the celebration. He recalls meeting the songwriter, who returned to his hometown when Roberts was a teenager in 1952. "And he was just so nice, so warm. He just had gentle class. Just a wonderful man," he said.
Daniel's son, Ward Roberts, never met his famous relative, but has grown up with Cole Porter's music. "Absolute standards. A lot of people probably hear his songs once or twice a day and might not even know it. But you go in to get a cup of coffee, and a lot of times you're going to hear Frank Sinatra singing a Cole Porter song. It's great," he said.
Cole Porter has been credited with writing some of the funniest, catchiest, and most romantic songs ever written for Broadway, including many that live on as part of America's musical heritage.