Parisian Pierrot (Noël Coward)
According to Richard Briers in Coward & Company, the playwright wrote “Parisian Pierrot” for his close friend Gertrude Lawrence in his review London Calling! but apparently she didn’t think much of it. The song was to be performed wearing a Pierrot costume, and Lawrence gave both to her understudy in André Charlot’s Revue of 1924, Jessie Matthews. In New York, she changed her mind and performed it herself, although she didn’t record it until November 3, 1931 – a pressing that was originally rejected. Coward recorded it in 1936.
According to the Noël Coward Society, Coward wrote the song in Berlin between December 9th and 18th, 1922. It was published in 1923 by Keith Prowse of London.
Coward himself said “The idea of it came to me in a night-club…a frowsy blonde, wearing a sequin chest-protector and a divided skirt, appeared in the course of the cabaret with a rag Pierrot doll dressed in black velvet. She placed it on a cushion where it sprawled in pathetic abandon while she pranced around it emitting gutteral [sic] noises. Her performance was unimpressive but the doll fascinated me”. The title came into his head in the taxi on his way back to the hotel.
Gertrude Lawrence died in 1952, and in 1968 Julie Andrews performed the song in her biopic Star!. (thanks, Alexander Baron – London, England, for all above)
Noël Coward – 1936
Julie Andrews in Star!, a Gertrude Lawrence biopic – 1968
Texas – Twentieth-Century Blues – The Songs Of Noël Coward (1998)