My Melancholy Baby

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1920s sheet music cover featuring Gene Austin

"My Melancholy Baby" is a popular song published in 1912 and first sung publicly by William Frawley. The music was written by Ernie Burnett, the lyrics by George A. Norton.[1]

Notable performances[edit]

William Frawley, who later played Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy, claimed to be the first person to perform the song publicly, in 1912 in the Mozart Cafe at 1647 Curtis Street in Denver, Colorado. Frawley told that story during a May 3, 1965, appearance on the TV game show I've Got a Secret.

Ernie Burnett, who composed the music, was wounded fighting in the First World War, and he lost his memory together with his identity dog tags. While recuperating in hospital, a pianist entertained the patients with popular tunes including "Melancholy Baby". Burnett rose from his sickbed and exclaimed: "That's my song!" He had regained his memory.

The song can be heard often throughout the 1939 Warner Brothers gangster movie The Roaring Twenties, where a vocal rendition of the song is performed by costar Priscilla Lane.

The song was sung by Bing Crosby in the 1941 Oscar-nominated movie Birth of the Blues.[2] Harry James recorded a version in 1941 on Columbia 36434.

In the 1942 film Johnny Eager, the song was played during the opening and closing credits, as background music throughout and as dance music by the band at Tony Luce's place. It was not credited.

The song appears both incidentally and in thematic background variations in the musical score of Fritz Lang's 1945 film Scarlet Street starring Joan Bennett and Edward G. Robinson. As a recording plays on a phonograph in several different scenes, the song becomes distorted, including disturbing repetitions when the needle gets stuck.

Judy Garland sang it during the "Born in a Trunk" sequence in the 1954 movie A Star Is Born after a drunk persistently shouted, "Sing 'Melancholy Baby'!"

In 1958, William Frawley performed the song again on the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, in the "Lucy Goes to Sun Valley" episode shown on April 14. Frawley, as Fred Mertz, was asked by Ricky to perform "an old-fashioned ballad" for his band's appearance on a TV show. Mertz sang the song in the rehearsal scene for the musical number.[3]

In the 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe's character, Sugar Kane is a big fan of the song, especially when played by a tenor saxophonist. She states, "All they have to do is play eight bars of 'Come to me My Melancholy Baby' and my spine turns to custard, I get goosepimply all over, and I come to 'em!"[4]

Tommy Edwards MGM single of the tune reached #15 in the US Music Vendor charts in spring 1959.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ My Melancholy Baby. Library of Congress. Retrieved on 2010-12-06.
  2. ^ Soundtrack Listing for Birth of the Blues. IMDB. Retrieved on 2010-12-06.
  3. ^ Madelyn Pugh, Bob Carroll, Jr., Bob Schiller, Bob Weiskopf (1958-04-14). "Lucy Goes to Sun Valley". Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Season 7. Episode 5. 30:02 minutes in. CBS. 
  4. ^