COLE PORTER: A Biography by Charles Schwartz

COLE PORTER: A Biography

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If he continues in this manner (Gershwin, 1973), Schwartz will become known as Mr. Warts-and-All, the biographer of theater composers who adds nothing to what's gone before except whisperings about sex and simplistic kvetchings about ""complex"" personalities. Playboy-professional Cole Porter, from Indiana mama's boy to Yale to Paris to Broadway, was undoubtedly a maze of a man, but Schwartz' only unravelings involve the now-inevitable decloseting process: Cole's ""practically insatiable"" appetite for ""paid sex"" with blacks, brutes, and aristocrats too (""I'm just mad about Jack"" Bouvier) at ""fucking parties."" But don't look for connections between these vague revelations--or the ones about Cole's false teeth, dyed hair, snobbishness, and tetchiness--and the splendiferous words and music. Schwartz brings only the most obvious adjectives and familiar observations to the songs, except when he is groping (""I'm in Love Again"" is ""pithy""?), stumbling (Sanka/ Bianca is the highlight of Kiss Me Kate? ""Get Out of Town"" is still sung despite its ""ambiguities""?), or getting all hot and bothered about the straightforward internal rhymes in ""I Concentrate On You."" For the rest--the shows and movies, the Elsa Maxwell parties, the told-and-told anecdotes--it's pretty much as it was in George Eells' undistinguished but exuberantly worshipful Life That Late He Led, with some added names and places, solid appendices, and one significant addition: the first publication of Porter's itemized description of the pain in his legs after his 1937 riding accident. Otherwise--flabby, witless. . . well, let Reno Sweeney (Ethel Merman) sing it as she did Porter-perfectly in Anything Goes: ""a worthless check/ a total wreck/a flop.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1977
ISBN: 0306800977
Publisher: Dial