American audiences will remember this tune as “My Man” – memorably featured in the film Funny Girl and performed by Barbara Streisand. Jazz legend Billie Holiday also a recorded a classic version. The original was sung by chanteuse Mistinguett, who at one time was at one time the highest-paid female entertainer in the world. A performer at the legendary Moulin Rouge, Mistinguett’s legs were insured for 500,000 francs in 1919. Though her well-insured gams were easy on the eyes, Jean Cocteau said her voice was “slightly off-key, (like) that of the Parisian street hawkers—the husky, trailing voice of the Paris people.”
Monsieur Pas de Merde is partial to this 1951 recording by Henriette Ragon, aka “Patachou,” whose legs were not insured but whose name derived from “pâte-à-choux” meaning cream puff dough. So, voila.
Sometimes when performing, Patachou would collect half-ties (she would snip the neckties of customers reluctant to join in sing-alongs). Thomas Dewey and Errol Flynn were among her victims.