Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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There are 2 entries for this date: Cole Porter and Natalie Portman
Cole Porter

Cole Porter

On this date in 1891, Cole Porter was born in Peru, Ind., to Sam Porter and Kate Cole Porter. Cole began studying piano at age six, wrote his first song at age 10, dedicated to his mother, and was class valedictorian at Worcester Academy in 1905. He graduated from Yale, where he wrote many college productions and performed with the glee club. Although he was gay, Porter married the woman who became his lifelong best friend, Linda Thomas, in 1919, and they remained together until her death in 1954. Cole's sophisticated, romantic and witty songs include: "I Get a Kick Out of You," "You're the Top," "Begin the Beguine," "Anything Goes," "Night and Day," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "You Do Something to Me," "In the Still of the Night," "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," "All of You" and "Friendship."

His musicals included "Kiss Me Kate," and "Can-Can." He wrote the music for such movies as "Silk Stockings" and "High Society" (Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby version). In 1937, Porter had a tragic horse riding accident, fracturing both legs, which left him with debilitating pain. In 1938, one of his legs had to be amputated. Friends, colleagues and biographers confirm that Porter was not religious. A woman who briefly dated him recalled him as "one of the most irreverent persons I've ever encountered—but so charming." The several songs he composed referencing deities always referred to them pejoratively and as "the gods," in plural. Musicals such as "Anything Goes" ("You're a Nathan panning / You're Bishop Manning / You're broccoli") raised the ire of religionists. The tremendously successful tunesmith lived a lavish lifestyle, and engaged in a lifelong battle with Puritanism and censorship. As is true for many musicians, "His art becomes almost a religion," noted British poet Alfred Noyes. When Porter was admitted to the hospital for the final time, dangerously ill and miserable, friend Bobby Raisin overheard an encounter between him and the staff. When he was asked his religion, Cole replied, "Put down none." The clerk asked, "Protestant?" Cole repeated, "Put down—none" (Quotes from Cole Porter by William McBrien, 1998, p. 395). (For more detail, see "Live and Let Live" Cole Porter: Out of Both Closets). D. 1964.

"Live and let live, be and let be,
Hear and let hear, see and let see,
Sing and let sing, dance and let dance.
.  .  . 
Live and let live and remember this line:
'Your bus'ness is your bus'ness and my bus'ness is mine.'"

—-Cole Porter, "Live and Let Live" from "Can-Can"

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman

On this date in 1981, Golden Globe- and Oscar-winning actress Natalie Hershlag (known by the stage name Natalie Portman) was born in Jerusalem, Israel. Portman's ancestors were Austrian, Russian, Polish and Romanian Jews; some emigrated to Israel and others died in Auschwitz. Portman's parents met in the U.S. at Ohio State University. When Portman was three years old, they relocated from Israel to Washington, D.C., where her father earned a medical degree and became a fertility specialist. The family settled in New York City in 1990, where they still reside. Starting at age 13, Portman landed roles in several popular films, including "The Professional" (1994), "Heat" (1995), "Beautiful Girls" (1996), "Mars Attacks!" (1996) and the Woody Allen musical film, "Everyone Says I Love You" (1996). She gained international fame for playing Queen Amidala/Padmé in "Star Wars: Episode I" (1999), and had to skip the premiere to take her high school final exams. Portman reprised her Queen Amidala/Padmé role in "Star Wars" episodes two and three (2002 and 2005), and had powerful roles in hit films such as "Anywhere but Here" with Susan Sarandon (1999), "Where the Heart Is" (2000), "Cold Mountain" (2003), "V for Vendetta" (2006), "The Other Boleyn Girl" (2008), "Brothers" (2009) and "Black Swan" (2010), for which she won the Best Actress Golden Globe (2011) and the Best Actress Academy Award (2011). She won her first Golden Globe for her role in the 2004 hit film "Closer," for Best Supporting Actress. 

Portman, who has had several papers published in scientific journals, graduated with a degree in psychology from Harvard in 2003. In addition to her screen work, she is an accomplished stage actress, performing in "The Seagull" at the New York City Public Theater alongside Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman (2001), and playing Anne Frank in the Broadway adaptation of "The Diary of Anne Frank" (1997). The actress, who speaks Hebrew, has dual citizenship between the U.S. and Israel and attended a Jewish elementary school, says her family is not religious. When asked if she was raised religiously, Portman responded: "No. I didn't have a bat mitzvah. And we never belonged to a temple. We felt it was ostentatious to belong to a temple" (New York Times Magazine, "Screen Goddess," by Lynn Hirschberg, Dec. 2, 2007). Portman has said she would like to raise her children Jewish (Hollywood.com, July 10, 2006). While she has not stated she is a nonbeliever, she has said she does not believe in an afterlife.

"I'm much more like the product of a doctor than I am a Jew. I don't believe in [an afterlife]. I believe this is it, and I believe it's the best way to live."

—Natalie Portman, in an interview for "Rolling Stone Magazine," "The Private Life of Natalie Portman," by Chris Heath, June 20, 2002

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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