Nat King Cole Net Worth at Death – How Did He Get Rich?

Nat King Cole Net Worth 

Nat King Cole had an estimated net worth of $27 million at the time of his death. Nat King Cole became the first African American performer to host a variety TV series in 1956. He’s best known for his soft baritone voice and for singles like “The Christmas Song,” “Mona Lisa” and “Nature Boy.” He earned the majority of his income from album sales, concerts, and TV series. 

Nat King Cole was an American musician who first became known as a jazz pianist. He owed most of his musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used in big band and jazz styles. In 1956, Cole became the first African-American artist to host a television series, and for many white families, he was the first black person they welcomed into their living room every night. Since his death in 1965, he has maintained his worldwide popularity.

To calculate the net worth of Nat King Cole, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets. All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Nat King Cole
Net Worth: $27 Million
Monthly Salary: $300 Thousand
Annual Income: $5 Million
Source of Wealth: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Pianist, Musician, Actor

Early Years

Cole was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 17, 1919. Cole, best known for his smooth and well-articulated vocal style, began his career as a pianist. His mother, a church choir director, taught him to play when he was four years old. Cole, the son of a Baptist pastor, may have started out performing religious music.

Cole received formal classical piano training in his early adolescence. He eventually abandoned classical in favor of his other musical love, jazz. Earl Hines, a modern jazz pioneer, was a major influence on Cole. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 to pursue a career as a full-time jazz pianist. Cole collaborated briefly with his brother Eddie, which resulted in his first professional recordings in 1936. He later performed as a pianist on a national tour for the musical revue Shuffle Along.

The following year, Cole began assembling what would become the King Cole Trio, named after a children’s nursery rhyme. They toured extensively before reaching the top of the charts in 1943 with Cole’s song “That Ain’t Right.” In 1944, the group had another hit with “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” which was inspired by one of his father’s sermons. The trio’s meteoric rise continued with pop hits like “The Christmas Song” and the ballad “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons.”

Pop Vocalist

By the 1950s, Cole had established himself as a popular solo performer. He had a string of hits, including “Nature Boy,” “Mona Lisa,” “Too Young,” and “Unforgettable.” Cole worked in the studio with some of the country’s top musicians, including Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as famous arrangers like Nelson Riddle. He also met and befriended other celebrities of the time, such as popular crooner Frank Sinatra.

Cole struggled to find his place in the Civil Rights Movement as an African American performer. He had firsthand experience with racism, particularly while touring in the South. Cole was attacked by white supremacists during a mixed-race performance in Alabama in 1956. Other African Americans, however, chastised him for his less-than-supportive comments about racial integration made after the show. Cole essentially stated that he was an entertainer, not an activist.

Cole’s popularity on the record charts began to wane in the late 1950s. This decline, however, did not last long. In the early 1960s, his career was at its peak. The country-influenced hit “Rambin’ Rose” peaked at number two on the Billboard pop charts in 1962.

Cole won over music fans the following spring with the lighthearted song “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer.” In 1964, he made his final appearances on the pop charts. Cole delivered two ballads in his signature smooth style, “I Don’t Want to Hurt Anymore” and “I Don’t Want to See Tomorrow,” which were modest successes in comparison to his earlier hits.

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Television and Films

In 1956, Cole made television history by becoming the first African American performer to host a variety show. Many of the day’s top performers appeared on the Nat King Cole Show, including Count Basie, Peggy Lee, Sammy Davis Jr., and Tony Bennett.

Unfortunately, the series did not last long, ending in December 1957. Cole attributed the show’s demise to the absence of a national sponsor. The sponsorship issue has been interpreted as a reflection of the racial issues of the time, with no company willing to support a program featuring African American entertainers.

Cole remained a television presence even after his show was cancelled. He appeared on shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and The Garry Moore Show.

Cole first appeared on the big screen in small roles in the 1940s, mostly as a version of himself. In the late 1950s, he landed some significant roles, including one in the Errol Flynn drama Istanbul (1957). Cole co-starred in the war drama China Gate with Gene Barry and Angie Dickinson the same year.

His only major starring role was in the 1958 drama St. Louis Blues, in which he co-starred with Eartha Kitt and Cab Calloway. Cole portrayed blues legend W.C. Handy in the film. His final film appearance came in 1965, when he co-starred with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin in the lighthearted western Cat Ballou.


Cole was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1964. He died of the disease just months later, on February 15, 1965, in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 45. A “who’s who” of Hollywood, including Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, and Jack Benny, attended the legendary musician’s funeral a few days later in Los Angeles. L-O-V-E, which was released around this time, proved to be Cole’s final recording. The album’s title track is still hugely popular today and has appeared on a number of film soundtracks.

Cole’s music has endured since his death. His version of “The Christmas Song” has become a holiday classic, and many of his other signature songs have appeared on film and television soundtracks. Natalie Cole, his daughter, continued the family business by becoming a successful singer in her own right. She assisted her father in achieving a posthumous hit in 1991. Natalie recorded his hit “Unforgettable” and combined their vocals as a duet.

Personal Life

Cole married for the first time at the age of 17. In 1948, he and his first wife, Nadine Robinson, divorced. Soon after, Cole married singer Maria Hawkins Ellington, with whom he had five children. The couple had three biological children, Natalie, Casey, and Timolin, as well as two adopted children, Carol and Nat Kelly.

Nat King Cole Quotes

I may be helping to bring harmony between people through my music.

Nat King Cole


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I’m an interpreter of stories. When I perform it’s like sitting down at my piano and telling fairy stories.

Nat King Cole


The people who know nothing about music are the ones always talking about it.

Nat King Cole


The only sport I’m not interested in is horse racing. That’s because I don’t know the horses personally.

Nat King Cole


Primarily I’m a meat man, although once in a while I toy with a few vegetables.

Nat King Cole


I am an American citizen and feel I am entitled to the same rights as any other citizen.

Nat King Cole


There’s just one thing I can’t figure out. My income tax!

Nat King Cole


People don’t slip. Time catches up with them.

Nat King Cole


I’m not playing for other musicians. We’re trying to reach the guy who works all day and wants to spend a buck at night. We’ll keep him happy.

Nat King Cole

View our larger collection of the best Nat King Cole quotes.

Further Reading

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How To Become Rich Like Nat King Cole?

Nat King Cole did not become rich by luck. To become as rich as Nat King Cole, you have to work smart.

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If you seize this golden opportunity in time, you can become as successful as Nat King Cole one day.

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