Poor Butterfly

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For the 1986 Argentine film, see Poor Butterfly (film).
"Poor Butterfly"
Introduced in the Broadway show The Big Show
Original sheet music cover
Song by Sophie Bernard
Published 1916
Composer(s) Raymond Hubbell
Lyricist(s) John Golden
Language English
Recorded by Elsie Baker (using the pseudonym Edna Brown)
Victor Military Band
Grace Kerns
Elizabeth Spencer
Prince's Orchestra (or Prince's Band)
The Hilltoppers
many other artists
(see #Other recorded versions)

"Poor Butterfly" is a popular song. It was inspired by Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly and contains a brief musical quote from the act 2 duet Tutti i fior in the verse.

The music was written by Raymond Hubbell, the lyrics by John Golden. The song was published in 1916. It was introduced in the Broadway show The Big Show, which opened in August 1916 at the New York Hippodrome, and was sung in the show by Sophie Bernard.[1]

The song has become a pop standard, recorded by many artists.

Recorded versions[edit]

Biggest hit versions in 1917[edit]

The two biggest hit versions in 1917 were recorded by Elsie Baker (using the pseudonym Edna Brown) and by the Victor Military Band.[1]

Baker's recording was made on December 15, 1916 and released on Victor as catalog number 18211,[1] with the flip side being a recording of "Alice in Wonderland" by Howard & McDonough.[2]

The Victor Military Band recording was recorded on November 29, 1916 and issued by Victor as catalog number 35605,[1][3] with the flip side “Katinka.”

Another version which received a significant amount of popularity[1] was by Grace Kerns recording under the name Catherine[4] (or Katherine[1]) Clark. This version was recorded in November 1916 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number A-2167, with the flip side “Century Girl”.[4]

Somewhat less popular, but still noted at the time, were a recording by Elizabeth Spencer, released by Thomas Edison's recording company as a disk, catalog number 50386, and an Amberol cylinder, catalog number 3039,[1] and a recording by Prince's Orchestra[3] (or Prince's Band[5]), recorded December 1916 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number A-5930, with the flip side “You and I”.[5]

An arrangement for violin and orchestra was recorded by Fritz Kreisler on March 1, 1917, and issued on Victor as catalog number 64555.

1954 revival[edit]

The song was revived in the 1950s by The Hilltoppers for a top-20 chart hit. Their recording was released by Dot Records as catalog number 15156, with the flip side "Wrapped up in a Dream". It first reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on April 14, 1954 and lasted 5 weeks on the chart, peaking at #15.[6] (Other sources[7] give the first date on the chart as April 24 and the highest position as #12.) The same recording was released in Canada by Quality Records as catalog number K1235, with the same flip side.[8]

Other recorded versions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gardner, Edward Foote (2000). Popular Songs of the 20th Century: Chart Detail & Encyclopedia, 1900-1949. St. Paul, Minnesota: Paragon House. ISBN 1-55778-789-1. 
  2. ^ a b Victor Records in the 18000 to 18499 series
  3. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1999). Joel Whitburn Presents a Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-135-7. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Columbia Records in the A-2000 to A-2499 series
  5. ^ a b Columbia Records in the A-5500 to A-5999 series
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1973). Top Pop Records 1940-1955. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. 
  7. ^ Lonergan, David (2004-01-28). Hit Records 1950-1975. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-5129-0. 
  8. ^ a b Quality Records in the K1001 to K1999 series
  9. ^ Musicraft Records in the 201 to 597 series
  10. ^ a b c Mercury Records in the 70000 to 70499 series
  11. ^ MGM Records in the 10500 to 10999 series
  12. ^ Decca Records in the 18000 to 18499 series
  13. ^ Stepheny Records in the 1801 to 1843 series
  14. ^ Emerson Records in the 700 to 799 and 7100 to 7556 series
  15. ^ a b Columbia Records in the 39000 to 39499 series
  16. ^ Silvertone Records listing
  17. ^ Harmony Records in the 1001 to 1087 series
  18. ^ a b Sunrise Records listing
  19. ^ a b Miracle Records listing
  20. ^ Chess Records in the 1475 to 1750 series
  21. ^ Al Hirt, Trumpet and Strings Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  22. ^ Al Hirt, The Best of Al Hirt Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  23. ^ Argo Records in the 5251 to 5569 series
  24. ^ Coral Records in the 62000 to 62565 series
  25. ^ Decca Records in the 1500 to 1999 series
  26. ^ a b Coral Records in the 60000 to 60999 series
  27. ^ Signature Records in the listed tecords series
  28. ^ Coral Records in the 61000 to 60999 series
  29. ^ Decca Records in the 28500 to 28999 series
  30. ^ a b Columbia Records in the 1000D to 1499D series
  31. ^ Rainbow Records listing
  32. ^ Brunswick Records in the 20000 to 20123 series
  33. ^ Bluebird Records in the 10500 to 10999 series
  34. ^ a b Pathé Records in the 20000 to 20499 series
  35. ^ a b c Capitol Records in the 10000 to 10210 series
  36. ^ Victor Records in the 27000 to 27499 series
  37. ^ Victor Records in the 27500 to 27999 series
  38. ^ Commodore Records listing
  39. ^ London Records (Australia) in the HL-1001 to HL-1999 series
  40. ^ Decca Records in the 1000 to 1499 series
  41. ^ ARA Records in the 4501 to 4515 series
  42. ^ Mercury Records in the 5000 to 5497 series
  43. ^ a b Mercury Records (Australia) in the 45001 to 45492 series
  44. ^ a b Capitol Records in the 500 to 999 series
  45. ^ Victor Records in the 24000 to 24499 series
  46. ^ National Records in the 3001 to 25000 series
  47. ^ Another National Records listing
  48. ^ Vikki Carr Discography
  49. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ_F_potBug&list=RDAZ_F_potBug#t=12