Shelved Dolls: Linda Porter – A Beard, But Cole Porter’s Beard

linda lee porter

Linda Porter was such a style icon that, at one point during the ’30′s, particularly well dressed women were referred to as “Very Linda Porterish.” Cole Porter’s wife was famous for her simple, elegant styles, as well as the fact that supposedly after wearing her gloves once she donated them immediately to the poor. I think she could have worn them twice or three times and donated some fresh ones to the poor, but that is not really the point.

The point is that she was stunningly stylish. And she’s often said to have had an incredibly romantic life, being married to Cole Porter and all, and that she inspired many of his songs. That’s partly due to her later being portrayed in a movie by Alexis Smith where Cole Porter was played by Cary Grant:

alexis smithAnd then, later, she was portrayed by Ashley Judd, before people became obsessed with critiquing Ashley Judd’s face:

Linda Porter Ashley judd

Note the gloves!

She’s also one of my mother’s favorite figures, and when I mentioned I was thinking of writing her, Mom wrote me:

I remember a Cartier show featuring her jewelry which was stunning. Could you do a Shelved Doll based on why Cole was so generous? I can think of several reasons:
1. He loved her
2. She fit his lifestyle
3. She accepted his homosexual leanings
4. She was his muse
Might be a different slant. With jewelry photos. For Valentines.

I am going to spoil this for you, but I really think it was number 3. Like, really, really number three. My curiosity more relates to why she loved him – or chose to marry him.

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    • Alle

      This is my favourite Shelved Dolls yet. It’s beautiful and sad and moving all at once. I’ve liked other subjects better than I like Linda Porter, I think–Josephine Baker is the greatest ever–but this is BY FAR my favourite story. The bit about the rose choked me up a little, for real.

      Well done.

    • MR

      So Porter was gay, and she’s a shelved doll for being married to him? I’m a heterosexual male. Does my statement make me homophobic?

    • ktree

      LOVED this. When I saw the picture of them together, I was amazed by how much she looks like my grandmother in her wedding photo. The rose story made me tear up, too.