Hollywood Remains to Be Seen

Jimmy Durante
1893 - 1980

Holy Cross Cemetery

Often known as "The Schnozzola" because of his prominent, bulbous nose, Jimmy Durante started his career playing the piano and singing in New York City nightclubs. He moved to Broadway, appearing in the Ziegfeld production of "Show Girl" in 1919, and then went to Hollywood, making his film debut in "Roadhouse Nights" (1930).

Durante was then teamed with Buster Keaton, who was nearing the end of his career, in several unsuccessful comedies, including "The Passionate Plumber" (1932), "Speak Easily" (1932) and "What! No Beer?" (1933). Durante was more successful on his own, providing musical and comedic relief in supporting roles in "The Phantom President" (1932), "Palooka" (1934), "Strictly Dynamite" (1934), "Little Miss Broadway" (1938), "Melody Ranch" (1940), "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (1942), "Music for Millions" (1944), "It Happened in Brooklyn" (1947) and "On an Island With You" (1948).

A singer, comedian, actor and composer, Durante was a popular performer on TV musical and comedy variety shows in the 1950s and 1960s, and he won an Emmy Award as Best Comedian in 1953. Durante also hosted his own TV show, "The Jimmy Durante Show," from 1954 to 1956. He ended each show with a phrase that became one of his many trademarks: "Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are."

Durante's final film appearance was in "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (1963), in which he played a criminal who's dying statement (before he literally "kicks the bucket") prompted a wild race involving pretty much every comic actor in Hollywood to find his buried fortune. Durante also provided the narration for the animated Christmas film, "Frosty the Snowman" (1969).

Durante's career was revived posthumously when his recordings of "As Time Goes By" and "Make Someone Happy" were included on the popular soundtrack of "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993).

Durante was born James Francis Durante on Feb. 10, 1893, in New York City, NY. He died on Jan. 29, 1980, in Santa Monica, CA.

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