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FLASH FRIDAY: Well, Did You Evah?! Cole Porter's 124th Birthday Clip Extravaganza

Today we salute the noted man behind the music and lyrics of many of the most popular songs of the 20th century, Cole Porter.

Do I Love You?

No one said it better than the man himself, "Do I love you, do I? / Doesn't one and one make two?" Just as the most basic arithmetic is easy to do, the same goes for falling madly in love with the music and lyrics of the one and only Cole Porter. An incomparable titan of the Golden Age of musical theatre, Porter composed some of the most successful and enduring classics of his own time as well as hundreds of songs that live on to this very day - all a credit to his supreme skills as an outright songwriting genius able to craft an earworm melody, endlessly witty turns of phrase and topics that delight the psyche each and every time. Indeed, perhaps no American songwriter can claim to be a better or more accomplished lyricist than Porter, while his many rapturous and instantly recognizable melodies continue to fill our hearts, minds, ears and souls decades after they were first presented. And, no question, some of his standout shows continue to be produced for the very same reason.

ANYTHING GOES. KISS ME, KATE. HIGH SOCIETY. SILK STOCKINGS. CAN-CAN. The list of notable mainstage and big screen musicals by Cole Porter is astounding to contemplate, further magnified by the majesty of musical masterpieces contained within each and every one of them. From "I Get A Kick Out Of You" to "You're The Top", "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" and the title song itself, ANYTHING GOES is merely one impossibly rich example of the wide swath of material Porter presented in just one score - and the countless breakout hits that emerged from so very many of his projects, whatever their ultimate fate originally was on Broadway and beyond. For example, his first Broadway hit, PARIS, may not be regularly revived these days - or revived at all, really, for that matter - but nevertheless some of the greatest pop music of the century emerged from it, including the unforgettable romantic gems "Let's Misbehave" and "Let's Do It", among others. Then, there is the specialty material he composed throughout his career for film and stage, such as the showstopper penned for Fred Astaire's last Broadway bow, GAY DIVORCE, "Night And Day", or, better yet, the material written for Gertrude Lawrence for NYMPH ERRANT, including "Experiment". Of course, no one can forget his artistic partnership with Ethel Merman on a series of shows, highlighted by RED, HOT & BLUE, and, thereafter, reaching its apotheosis in his material penned for her unmistakable foghorn instrument in ANYTHING GOES. Nobody did specialty material better - and, let's be honest, nobody did popular music songwriting itself better than Porter, whether he himself in his own lifetime, or anyone else before or since. Without a doubt, he's the ultimate, indisputable top.

Experiment

So, now, let's celebrate the 124th birthday of a 20th century master with some of Cole Porter's biggest hits of all time.

First up, here is a vintage Cole Porter PARIS gem from 1928 in its original iteration by Irene Bordoni.

Next, Alanis Morissette sings a PARIS showstopper in the Porter biopic DE-LOVELY.

Now, Ella Fitzgerald performs an early Porter radio hit from the short-lived musical WAKE UP AND DREAM.

Also, Sinead O'Conner recreated a classic 1920s Porter hit from FIFTY MILLION FRENCHMEN in the 1990s.

Check out Billie Holiday's take on Porter's controversial 1930s mega-hit "Love For Sale".

Here is Fred Astaire crooning a specialty song composed for him by Porter, as a duet with Ginger Rogers.

Don't miss Ethel Merman and Frank Sinatra on the Porter ANYTHING GOES earworm "You're The Top".

Patti LuPone stops the show with her fabulous take on the title song from ANYTHING GOES live at the Tonys.

Sutton Foster brings ANYTHING GOES firmly into the 21st century with her charismatic turn as Reno Sweeney.

Marilyn Monroe sizzles with Porter's playfully sexy and endearing "My Heart Belongs To Daddy".

Gene Kelly persuasively croons "Do I Love You?" from DUBARRY WAS A LADY onscreen.

Seth MacFarlane sings Porter's jazz-tastic "Well, Did You Evah?" live in London.

Pop superstar Lady Gaga nails "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" from flop musical SEVEN LIVELY ARTS.

Judy Garland and Gene Kelly wow with the standout comedy song from original screen musical THE PIRATE.

Ann Miller rocks a KISS ME, KATE showstopper as only she can.

Frank Sinatra sings the HIGH SOCIETY hit "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"

Barbra Streisand impresses with the a late-career highlight from Porter's TV musical version of ALADDIN.

Lastly, Porter himself sings the hilarious and intriguing "I'm A Gigolo" in 1929.

So, what is your absolute favorite Cole Porter score of all time? Furthermore, what is your choice for his top song out of them all? With these many miraculous musical moments to savor - or, perhaps, discover for the first time - it is almost impossible to choose just one... or just ten. Or twenty. The question remains: do we love Cole Porter? Why, yes, we do - just as one and one always equals two... and always will.



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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)