Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$27 Million
Mar 17, 1919 - Feb 15, 1965 (45 years old)
6 ft (1.85 m)
Singer, Singer-songwriter, Pianist, Musician, Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Nat King Cole's Net Worth
Table of ContentsExpand
  1. Early Life
  2. Career
  3. Personal Life

What was Nat King Cole's net worth?

Nat King Cole was an American singer and pianist who had a net worth equal to $27 million after adjusting for inflation at the time of his death in 1965. Technically, at the time of his death, Nat King Cole had a net worth of $3.5 million. Unfortunately, due to poor estate planning, after estate taxes and various other costs, his family (including 15 year old daughter Natalie Cole) ended only up receiving $1 million (equal to $7 million in today's dollars) from his former net worth.

Nat King Cole's musical genres included vocal jazz, swing, and traditional pop. Thanks to the "The Nat King Cole Show" he was one of the first African Americans host a nationally televised show. During his career released 28 albums starting with his 1945 debut, "The King Cole Trio." Some of his more popular songs include "Straighten Up and Fly Right", "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66", "The Christmas Song", "Nature Boy", "Mona Lisa", "Too Young", and "Unforgettable". Cole appeared in many films including Citizen Kane, Kiss Me Deadly, The Scarlet Hour, St. Louis Blues, and more. His single "Unforgettable" won seven Grammy Awards and Cole received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. In 2000 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nat King Cole passed away on February 15, 1965 at 45 years old from lung cancer.

Early Life

Nat King Cole was born on March 17, 1919 and given the name Nathaniel Adams Coles. He was born in Montgomery, Alabama and grew up with his three brothers and one half-sister. When Cole was four years old, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois where his father, Edward Coles, became a Baptist minister. His mother, Perlina, worked as the church organist. Cole learned to play the organ from his mother and his first performance came at the age of four. When he was 12, he began to take formal piano lessons and learned jazz, gospel, and classical music. He attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School. He participated in Walter Dyett's music program at DuSable High School. Occasionally, he would sneak out of his house and visit clubs in Chicago, sitting outside to hear the likes of Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Jimmie Noone.


When he was 15, Cole dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. He formed a sextet with his brother, Eddie, and recorded two singles for Decca in 1936 as Eddie Cole's Swingsters. He toured with the musical "Shuffle Along" and ended up moving to Los Angeles to look for work. He began working as a piano player in nightclubs until a club owner asked him to form his own band. He did so, calling the band the King Cole Swingsters. They later changed their name to the King Cole Trio. In 1940, he recorded "Sweet Lorraine" and it became his first hit and also launched his singing career, as he had just been primarily an instrumentalist until then.

In 1941, the King Cole Trio recorded the track "That Ain't Right." The next year, they recorded "All for You" and then "I'm Lost." Cole appeared in the first Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts in 1944. In 1946, the trio broadcast "King Cole Trio Time," a 15-minute radio program that was the first radio program hosted by black musicians.

In the mid to late-1940s, Cole began to perform more pop-oriented material in which he was often accompanied by a string orchestra. His stardom grew as he recorded hit songs like "The Christmas Song," "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66," "(I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons," and "Too Young," among others.

His fame and popularity grew into the 1950s. By 1956, he had his own show on NBC called "The Nat 'King Cole Show," one of the first variety programs hosted by an African American. The program's 15-minute length was increased to 30 minutes in July of 1957. However, the show suffered from lack of sponsorship, which Cole attributed at least in part to racism.

Nevertheless, Cole continued to record hits that sold millions throughout the world like "Smile," "Pretend, and "A Blossom Fell." In 1959, he won a Grammy Award for Best Performance By a Top 40 Artist for the track "Midnight Flyer." He also recorded three Spanish-language albums that were immensely popular in Latin America and the United States. Though musical tastes shifted in the 1960s, Cole remained popular. Some of his hits during the 1960s include "Ramblin' Rose," "Dear Lonely Hearts," and "That Sunday, That Summer." His final studio album, "L-O-V-E," was released in 1965 and peaked at number four on the Billboard Albums chart.

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Personal Life

Around the time that Cole began his singing career, he entered into Freemasonry. He was raised in January 1944 in the Thomas Waller Lodge No. 49 in California. He joined the Scottish Rite Freemasonry and became the Master Mason.

Cole met his first wife, Nadine Robinson while they were on tour for the all-black Broadway musical "Shuffle Along." They married when he was 18 years old. She was a main reason for his move to Los Angeles and forming of the Nat King Trio. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1948. Six days after his divorce was finalized, he married singer Maria Hawkins in Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist church. The couple had five children together: Natalie, Carole, Nat Kelly Cole, Casey, and Timolin. He was also romantically involved with a woman named Gunilla Hutton beginning in 1964, which caused tension with his wife. However, he broke off the relationship before his death and reconciled with his wife.

Throughout his early career, Cole dealt with numerous instances of racism. He became a lifetime member of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. Until his death, he remained an active and visible participant in the civil rights movement and participated in the March on Washington in 1963.

In September of 1964, Cole began to lose weight and experienced back problems. After performing at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, he collapsed with pain. He later sought medical help and a malignant tumor in an advanced state of growth on his left lung was discovered. He carried on working and made his final recordings in early December of 1964 before entering the Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica. His condition worsened and he died in February of 1965 at the age of 45. His funeral was held at St. James' Episcopal Church in Los Angeles and attended by 400 people, with thousands more waiting outside.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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