“Ta-Ra-Ra Boom-de-ay!” is a 1891 American folk song originally thought to be written by Henry J. Sayers of Missouri, though Sayers later stated he first heard it performed in the 1880s by Mama Lou, a black singer, in a well-known St. Louis brothel. It quickly spread to England and France and became wildly successful across the continent. In 1943, Mary Martin performed “Ta-Ra-Ra Boom-de-ay!” in a movie musical called Happy Go Lucky .
Coincidentally, Martin credited her first success on Broadway to Sophie. Both women appeared in Cole Porter’s 1938 musical Leave It To Me. Mary’s big number in that show was a tune called “My Heart Belongs To Daddy,” but after a month of rehearsals, Sophie knew that Martin wasn’t quite landing the song.
“Mary, do you have any idea what the lyrics to your song are insinuating?” asked Sophie.
The rookie had no idea. When Sophie told her it was all about sex, Mary turned bright red.
“How do I get that across?” questioned Mary.
With a fifteen minute tutorial from The Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Martin nailed the double entendres and went on to become another superstar of the Great White Way.