My Heart Belongs to Daddy

"My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is a song written by Cole Porter, for the 1938 musical Leave It to Me! which premiered on November 9, 1938. It was originally performed by Mary Martin, who played Dolly Winslow, the young "protégée" of a rich newspaper publisher.[1]

In the original context, Dolly is stranded at a Siberian railway station, wearing only a fur coat, and performs a striptease while singing the song. Surrounded by eager Siberian men, she says that since she has met "daddy", she will flirt with other men, but won't "follow through". "Daddy" is her sugar daddy, a newspaper magnate introduced with the words, "I've come to care, for such a sweet millionaire".

Later versions

Martin sang it again in the 1940 movie Love Thy Neighbor. Again she wears a fur coat, but the setting is a show within a show and the act is more conventional as she wears an evening gown beneath the fur. The words to the introduction are altered, the innuendoes being toned down. Her best-known movie performance is in the 1946 Cole Porter biopic Night and Day in which she plays herself. The film recreates Martin's audition then segues into her performance in the original Siberian context. She again performs the striptease, discarding her muff and then the fur coat, while mustashioed Siberian men follow her every move, eventually fainting when she removes her coat to reveal a skimpy figure-hugging costume beneath.[2]

In Britain, the song was a hit for Pat Kirkwood who performed it in the 1938 revue Black Velvet. This led to her being dubbed "Britain's first wartime star".[3] The song was thereafter associated with her.[4]

Marilyn Monroe sings the song in the film Let's Make Love (1960). The introduction is completely changed. She introduces herself as "Lolita", who is not allowed to "play with boys". A verse is added in which she invites a boy "to cook up a fine enchilada". The lines do not conform to the rhyme scheme of the rest of the song, but have been used by many other performers since. Anna Nicole Smith recorded a virtual copy of the Monroe version in 1997.

Lyrical and musical features

Rhyming with "daddy" is difficult but Porter characteristically managed it well.[5] One clever rhyme is

If I invite
A boy some night
To dine on my fine Finnan haddie,
I just adore
His asking for more,
But my heart belongs to daddy.

Finnan haddie is smoked fish, and this is one of many innuendoes which appear throughout the song. Sophie Tucker famously advised Mary Martin to deliver such sexy lines while looking towards heaven. Mary Martin's stage persona was quite innocent and so the contrast between her naive manner and the suggestive lyrics accompanied by the provocative striptease made her performance a huge success.[6] Brooks Atkinson, the critic of the New York Times, wrote that Martin's "mock innocence makes My Heart Belongs to Daddy the bawdy ballad of the season".[7]

The original version contains four verses, all of which play on idiosyncratic rhymes with "daddy". The first refers to a game of golf during which she might "make a play for the caddy". The second is about the finnan haddie. The third tells of wearing green with a "Paddy" on St Patrick's day. The final verse is about a varsity football match where one might meet a "strong under-graddy". In the original version she ends up saying that her daddy might "spank" her if she was "bad".

Referring to the melody, especially the passage of "da da da da"s, Oscar Levant described it as "one of the most Yiddish tunes ever written" despite the fact that "Cole Porter's genetic background was completely alien to any Jewishness."[8]

Notable recordings


  1. Inc, Time (Dec 19, 1938), "Mary Martin is Broadway's newest song star", LIFE: 29
  2. Roy Hemming (March 1999), The melody lingers on: the great songwriters and their movie musicals, ISBN 978-1-55704-380-1
  3. Actress Pat Kirkwood dies at 86, BBC, 2007-12-26, retrieved 2010-05-19
  4. Colin Larkin (1995), The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, p. 2328, ISBN 978-0-85112-662-3
  5. Pamela Phillips Oland (2001-06-01), The art of writing great lyrics, p. 50, ISBN 978-1-58115-093-3
  6. Ethan Mordden (1988-06-23), Broadway Babies: The People Who Made the American Musical, p. 220, ISBN 978-0-19-505425-5
  7. Ronald L. Davis, Mary Martin, Broadway legend, University of Oklahoma Press, 2008, p.42.
  8. Oscar Levant, The Unimportance of Being Oscar, Pocket Books 1969 (reprint of G.P. Putnam 1968), p. 32. ISBN 0-671-77104-3.
  9. Marc Shell (2005-06-15), Stutter, p. 292, ISBN 978-0-674-01937-9
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