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ON THE COVER:

July 26, 1987

He was small and wiry, wore white tie and tails to the theater, a carnation in his buttonhole, and when he was accused of being a snob, his response was, "I'm not. I simply like the best."

He also had a gift of song and was rare in that he wrote both the music and the lyrics. His name: Cole Porter.

This week, public television's "In Performance at the White House" series, which in recent months has saluted George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, will be striking up Porter's tunes. The "Tribute to American Music: Cole Porter" airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 24 and 9 p.m. on Channels 15 and 50. It also will be televised Friday at 9 p.m. on Channel 28.

On the hourlong program, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Torme, Kaye Ballard, June Allyson and Patti Austin perform before President and Mrs. Reagan and invited guests in the East Room of the White House. (The program was taped there June 28.)

Porter was born in 1891 and died in 1964. His Broadway shows ranged from "The New Yorkers," "The Gay Divorcee" and "Anything Goes" in the 1930s to "Kiss Me Kate" (1948) and "Can-Can" (1953). Typical of his songs are "Night and Day," "April in Paris," "In the Still of the Night," "Begin the Beguine," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "True Love."

Porter was once asked if he knew who wrote "Some Enchanted Evening." Of course, he replied, it was Rodgers and Hammerstein . . . adding, "if you can imagine it taking two men to write one song."

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