1929 saw the production of Wake Up and Dream in London, along with Fifty Million Frenchmen in New York. Gay Divorce with Fred Astaire followed in 1932, with Anything Goes in 1934. Stage legend Ethel Merman starred in Panama Hattie during the 1940 season. Despite the riding accident in 1937 that crippled one leg—eventually necessitating its amputation—Porter continued to write songs for Broadway with his trademark witty and often cynical words. Some of his most famous songs date from this period: Let's Do It, Night and Day, I Get a Kick Out of You, Begin the Beguine, Just One of Those Things, You're the Top, It's Delovely and others. His song writing success culminated in 1948 with his masterpiece Kiss Me, Kate, based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.
Musically, Porter was one of the most thoroughly trained popular songwriters of the 20th century. He was perhaps even better known as a lyricist; his texts were in the height of fashion—seldom sentimental, filled with double-entendres and witty rhymes, often referring to sex and drugs. Although his songs were considered at first rather too shocking for the theater, today they retain much of their freshness and are classics, comprising a sizeable portion of the repertoire of every popular singer.
Porter broke ground in his composition with his use of innovative rhythmic elements and by extending his melodies, and hence the length of the individual songs. He made clever use of word painting (think of the haunting turn in "Every Time We Say Goodbye" when the lyrics speak of "…major to minor…"). Porter also possessed an especially fine ear for the pronunciation, natural speech patterns and rhythms of the English language. One example is the hop-scotching syncopations in "Anything Goes"—the words skipping by our ears like pebbles across a pond. Comfortable in almost any form or style, Cole's musical legacy is vast, diverse and impressive.
Porter died in 1964. In accordance with his wishes, he is buried between his wife Linda and his father. The popularity of his songs has long outlasted knowledge of the man himself. Many of his most famous songs were presented to the public only in the context of musicals or movies—works that also contained non-Porter songs. Still, until the 1950s Porter created the most theatrically elegant, sophisticated and musically complex songs of American 20th-century popular music.