1991 29¢ Performing Arts: Cole Porter
US #2550 was issued for Porter’s 100th birthday.

Cole Albert Porter was born on June 9, 1891, in Peru, Indiana.

Porter was the only child of a wealthy Indiana family. His grandfather, J.O. Cole, was considered the richest man in the state and had earned his money in the coal and timber industries.

J.O. Cole hoped his grandson would be a lawyer, but Porter’s mother had introduced him to music at an early age. Porter learned to play violin when he was six and the piano when he was eight. He was already writing songs by the time he was ten. J.O. Cole sent his grandson to Worcester Academy in Massachusetts in 1905.

Porter brought a piano with him and his abilities helped him build many friendships. He was also an excellent student and graduated as class valedictorian – J.O. Cole congratulated him by sending him to tour France. Porter attended Yale University in 1909 and studied English, French, and music. He wrote approximately 300 songs at Yale, including the school’s fight songs that are still used today.

1991 29¢ Cole Porter Colorano Silk Cachet First Day Cover
US #2550 – Colorano Silk Cachet First Day Cover

In 1915, Porter had his first song make it to Broadway, “Esmeralda.” After that, Porter spent time in France. After he returned to the US, his music began to gain popularity in the late 1920s. He then went on to write many successful songs and musicals including “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Night and Day,” I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “In the Still of the Night.” He was eventually approached by E. Ray Goetz to write the score for his musical, Paris, which turned out to be a hit.

1994 29¢ Popular Singers: Ethel Merman
US #2853 – Ethel Merman appeared in the first five Cole Porter musicals.

When the stock market crashed in October 1929, Broadway business declined, but Porter managed to keep working. Anything Goes debuted in 1934 and was considered one of Porter’s greatest scores of the time.

2008 42¢ Frank Sinatra
US #4265 was issued 10 years after Sinatra’s death.

In 1937, Porter had a horseback riding accident that left him permanently disabled, but he only stopped composing for about seven months. In 1948, Porter wrote the score for his most successful and well-loved musical, Kiss Me Kate. The show won the first ever Tony Award for Best Musical, and Porter received the Tony for best composer and lyricist.

Several of Porter’s songs also appeared in popular films. He produced the scores for You’ll Never Get Rich, Something to Shout About, and Mississippi Bell. He also assisted in the creation of Night and Day, a largely fictional story based on his life starring Cary Grant. While it was panned by the critics, it was popular with moviegoers for the large number of classic Porter songs. Porter’s last major hit song, “True Love,” was featured in the Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly film High Society.

2007 39¢ Black Heritage: Ella Fitzgerald
US #4120 –Fitzgerald was the 30th honoree in the Black Heritage Series.

Porter’s heath never fully recovered after his accident and he had to have a leg amputated. He never wrote again after that, and died six years later on October 15, 1964. Over the years, several artists recorded entire albums of his work, including Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, and Frank Sinatra.

Click here for an extensive list of Cole Porter songs.

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  1. A sad ending to the life of a man with such talent! I knew very little about the man until reading your article on him. Thanks again for all your information.

  2. What wonderful music he wrote, did he write “Begin the Begin”?? I can’t remember if it was him,
    I thought so, please let me know. I like all the things you write and I pass them on for others to
    check out and see what they are missing when they don’t save stamps. All the history behind our
    country. Keep up the good work and for telling us through stamps what a great country we have,
    let us keep it that way. To the President of Mystic, My husband died this week and we all thank
    you for sending him the coin from Korea War. Bless you. Audre

    1. Hi Audre,

      Very sorry for your loss. Thank you being a part of the Mystic family of collectors. All of us here at Mystic wish you the best.

      To answer your question, yes, Cole Porter did write “Begin the Beguine.” Here’s a link to a YouTube video of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYHXTJxoZqo

      Take care. And thank you for the kind words.

  3. Always felt that listening to a Cole Porter song was necessary in the study of American history of music. Definitely one of the greats of American Theatre musical composers.

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