Nat 'King' Cole
45 (passed away Feb. 15th, 1965)
Mar. 17th, 1919
Montgomery, Alabama, USA
Nat 'King' Cole's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1994 - Corrina, Corrina
1965 - Cat Ballou
1953 - The Blue Gardenia
1948 - Killer Diller
1944 - Pin Up Girl
1941 - Citizen Kane
Guest TV Roles
Himself - Guest Vocalist
Nat King Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Coles at Montgomery, Alabama. He received music lessons from his mother and his family moved to Chicago when he was only five, where his father Edward James Coles was a minister at the True Light Baptist Church and later Pastor of the First Baptist Church. At 12 he was playing the church organ and at 14 he formed a 14 piece band called the Royal Dukes. Nat was a top flight sandlot baseball player at Wendell Phillips high school in Chicago. His three brothers, Ike, Eddie Cole and Frankie also played the piano and sang professionally. Nat was also an above-average football player in high school. His sister Evelyn Cole was a beautician in nearby Waukegan, Illinois. In 1939 he formed the King Cole Trio after his publicist put a silver tin-foiled crown on his head and proclaimed him King. He later toured Europe and made a command performance before Queen Elizabeth II. He had a highly-rated TV show in the 1960s but it was canceled (by Cole himself) because no companies could be found that were willing to sponsor the show. He was a big baseball fan and had a permanent box seat at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. He met his wife Maria Cole (a big-band singer) at the Zanzibar nightclub in Los Angeles through 'Eddie Rochester' Anderson' of Jack Benny show. Her parents protested her decision to marry Cole, claiming he was "too black". However, they were married in 1948 and had two daughters, Natalie Cole (I) and Caroline. On April 10, 1956, at Birmingham, Alabama, he was attacked by six white men from a white supremacist group called the White Cizizens Council during a concert and sustained minor injuries to his back. Cole appeared in several movies, his last one being Cat Ballou (1965), starring Lee Marvin. Cole received 28 gold record awards for such hits as "Sweet Lorraine", "Ramblin' Rose" in 1962, "Too Young" in 1951, "Mona Lisa" in 1949 and Mel Tormé's "Christmas Song". His first recordings of the Christmas Song included the lyrics, "Reindeers really know how to fly" instead of "reindeer really know how to fly", a mistake later corrected by Capitol Records. He was also a composer and his song "Straighten Up and Fly Right" was sold for $50.00. A heavy smoker, he died of lung cancer.
- In 1956, while giving a concert in Birmingham, Alabama, he was attacked onstage by two members of a white racist organization called the White Citizens Council and sustained injuries to his back.
- Addressed the Republican National Convention in 1956.
- Inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1993.
- He and his second wife 'Maria Cole' (qv) were married in Harlem's famous Abyssinian Baptist Church by the Rev. 'Adam Clayton Powell Jr.' (qv).
- Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Heritage, right hand side of the corridor, at the very top.
- Children: daughters, 'Carol Cole' (qv), born October 17, 1944 (adopted) 'Natalie Cole (I)' (qv), born February 6, 1950 Timolin & Casey (identical twins), born September 26, 1961; son, 'Nat Kelly Cole' (qv), born February 1959 - died 1995 (AIDS) (adopted).
- Attended the Democratic National Convention in 1960.
- When he and his family moved to the upscale Hancock Park area of Los Angeles in the late 1940s, it was met with considerable opposition from the residents of the previously all-white neighborhood. When sent a letter informing him that the local residents were opposed to "undesirables" in the neighborhood, he responded with a letter that said that he and his family were also opposed to undesirables, and that, if he ever saw any, his neighbors would be the first ones to know. When the neighbors finally realized - after several attempts, including legal action - that the Coles were not going to be intimidated, they accepted defeat and, ultimately, the Coles as well. Several years after his death, his widow, Maria, sold the home to a family of wealthy African-Americans. As Maria herself said, "Anyone who thought Nat was an Uncle Tom clearly did not know the man."
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