b. 27 April 1914, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA, d. 17 February 1974, Hollywood, California, USA. Before forming his own dance company, Cole worked with various dance troupes displaying an original talent. His speciality was in creating exotic and often erotic dance routines. His choreography for the New York production of Something For The Boys (1943), with its often blatant sexuality, led to other engagements exploiting his penchant for working to quasi-eastern music and the use of scantily-clad dancers. He had already appeared in the film Moon Over Miami (1941) and from the mid-40s he created dance routines for films such as Eadie Was A Lady, Cover Girl, Tonight And Every Night (all 1945), The Jolson Story, Tars And Spars, The Thrill Of Brazil (all 1946), and The Merry Widow (1952). He enjoyed a close professional relationship with Marilyn Monroe, including crafting her routine for ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Cole also worked with Monroe on There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) and, reportedly and uncredited, Some Like It Hot (1959). Other films include Three For The Show, Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (both 1955), Les Girls (1957) and again with Monroe on Let’s Make Love (1960).
Concurrent with his film work, Cole worked on stage productions; frequently his numbers were the best things in otherwise indifferent shows. There were some hits, though, and among his Broadway credits between the late 40s and the mid-50s are Magdalena (1948) and Kismet (1953); the latter a show that offered an ideal setting for his interest in eastern-tinged music and dance. He also worked on the 1955 film version of Kismet. Later shows in New York were Jamaica (1957), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1962), Foxy (1964) and Man Of La Mancha (1965). In addition to his role as choreographer he also directed Donnybrook (1964) and Kean (1964), both of which were flops. Other than Monroe, Cole also aided the progress of dancers in the theatre, among them Carol Haney and Gwen Verdon, the latter’s professional relationship with him lasting several years. Gifted though he was, in many ways Cole was before his time. The eroticism of much of his work, especially in the use he made of male dancers, would have found a more open audience in the 70s, the decade in which he died.