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My Funny Valentine (1937)

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Origin and Chart Information
“You haven’t heard ‘My Funny Valentine’ if you’ve missed this classic version with Miles on muted trumpet, backed by one of his most famous quintets...”

- Jon Luthro

Rank 6
Music Richard Rodgers
Lyrics Lorenz Hart

Mitzi Green introduced “My Funny Valentine” in the Broadway musical, Babes in Arms. Her character, Susie Ward, sang to Ray Heatherton whose character was (conveniently) named Valentine, “Val” White. The show opened at the Schubert Theater on April 14, 1937, and ran for 289 performances. “My Funny Valentine” subsequently went onto the recording charts in 1945, with Hal McIntyre and His Orchestra (Ruth Gaylor, vocal) taking it to number sixteen.


More on Mitzi Green at JazzBiographies.com

Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

Babes in Arms was the first “true” Rodgers and Hart musical. That is to say, this is the first time that they wrote the book (dialog) as well as the music and lyrics. Their storyline was the forerunner of the “Hey kids, let’s put on a show!” formula, which provided a format for a sequence of song and dance numbers while allowing the inclusion of a thin plot and some modest character development.


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The show is also notable for choreographer George Balanchine’s “dream ballet” sequence, one of the first of its kind. Other songs in the original Babes in Arms production included, “Babes in Arms,” “I Wish I Were in Love Again,” “Where or When,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” and “Johnny One Note.”

Babes in Arms was adapted to the big screen by MGM in 1939 and was the third in a series of nine movies starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Arthur Freed produced and Busby Berkeley directed this film, which retained some of the original plot but only the songs “Babes in Arms” and “Where or When” from the score.

“My Funny Valentine” has at one time or another been a specialty number for countless performers, including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Miles Davis, and Chet Baker.

More information on this tune...

Will Friedwald
Stardust Melodies
Pantheon; 1st edition
Hardcover: 416 pages

(This book contains 25 pages on the song--its history, analyses of the music and lyric, performers, recordings, and information on the songwriters. “My Funny Valentine” is one of twelve thoroughly documented songs in the book.)
See the Reading and Research panel below for more references.

- Jeremy Wilson

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