This popular jazz standard has been performed by many celebrated recording artists, including Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Chaka Khan, Sarah Vaughan, Sting, Linda Ronstadt, Barbra Streisand and Chet Baker. The song was written by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart. The acclaimed songwriting team wrote the song for their 1937 Broadway musical Babes in Arms. In the musical, former child star Mitzi Green plays Billie Smith, who sings "My Funny Valentine" to a character named Valentine "Val" LaMar (played by singer/actor Ray Heatherton). Billie is smitten with Val, and her true feelings for him are revealed in the song. In the song's lyrics, Billie pokes fun at Val's looks and personality quirks, but those imperfections are what she finds most endearing about him. Green also sang the Rodgers & Hart classic the "The Lady is a Tramp" in the same musical.
Babes in Arms opened at the Shubert Theatre, in New York, on April 14, 1937 and ran for 289 performances after transferring to the Majestic Theatre on October 25, 1937. It closed on December 18, 1937. The musical is about a teenage boy who puts on a show with his friends to avoid being sent to a work farm. Green was 16 when the musical opened on Broadway. The legendary dance team the Nicholas Brothers also appeared in Babes in Arms. They played the brothers Ivor and Irving DeQuincy.
Babes in Arms was made into a film in 1939 and starred Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. But "My Funny Valentine" wasn't included in the film.
In 1965, the jazz giant Miles Davis released a live concert album titled My Funny Valentine: Miles Davis in Concert. The concert was recorded on February 12, 1964, at the Philharmonic Hall of Lincoln Center in New York City. The set included Davis' transcendent reading of "My Funny Valentine." It also included the jazz standards "All of You," "Stella by Starlight," "Thought About You" and "All Blues," which is a composition by Davis.
Rodgers and Hart were one of the most popular and successful songwriters in America, and many of their songs have become Jazz standards. In addition to "My Funny Valentine," some of their other timeless classics include "Blue Moon," "Here in My Arms," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "Isn't it Romantic?," and "Ten Cents a Dance." The songwriting duo had a slew of successful musicals, many of which were made into films. And from 1925-1931, they had 15 scores featured on Broadway.
This song was featured in the 1957 film Pal Joey, which was loosely adapted from Rodgers and Hart's 1940 musical of the same name, but the song wasn't included in the musical. The film starred Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak. In the film, Kim Novak's character, Linda English, sings "My Funny Valentine." However, Novak wasn't really doing the singing. Her voice was dubbed by singer Trudy Erwin. Pal Joey also featured the Rodgers and Hart classics "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "The Lady is a Tramp," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," and "There's a Small Hotel."
Other movie soundtracks to feature this song include The Talented Mr. Ripley (sung by Matt Damon), Waiting to Exhale and The Company.
"My Funny Valentine" is one of the most enduring love songs. It has been performed by more than 600 artists and has appeared on over 1300 albums.
The song was so prolific throughout the '50s that one New York City club owner refused to allow vocalists to perform it in his establishment.