“My Funny Valentine” is a show tune from the 1937 Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical Babes in Arms in which it was introduced by former child star Mitzi Green. After being recorded by Chet Baker, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, and Miles Davis, the song became a popular jazz standard, appearing on over 1300 albums performed by over 600 artists.
Babes in Arms opened at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, in New York City on April 14, 1937 and ran for 289 performances. In the original play, a character named Billie Smith (played by Mitzi Green) sings the song to Valentine “Val” LaMar (played by Ray Heatherton). In the song, Billie pokes fun at some of Valentine’s characteristics, but ultimately affirms that he makes her smile and that she doesn’t want him to change.
- The song first hit the charts in 1945, performed by Hal McIntyre with vocals by Ruth Gaylor.
- In 1952, Baker joined the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, which was an instant phenomenon. Several things made the Mulligan/Baker group special, the most prominent being the interplay between Mulligan’s baritone sax and Baker’s trumpet.
- The Quartet’s version of “My Funny Valentine“, featuring a Baker solo, was a hit, and became a tune with which Baker was intimately associated.
- In 1954, Pacific Jazz released Chet Baker Sings, a record that increased his profile but alienated traditional jazz fans; he would continue to sing throughout his career.
- The song is part of the Great American Songbook and has had many notable recordings.