This son of Italian immigrants grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, dropped out of 8th Grade to play ragtime piano and became one of America’s most versatile and beloved performers, so we celebrate his birth on
NATIONAL JIMMY DURANTE DAY!
Jimmy began to develop his trademark early in his career, stopping the music to deliver a joke, the orchestra punctuating his delivery.
During the Roaring Twenties he was a Vaudeville and radio star with a trio called Clayton, Jackson and Durante.
Self-nicknamed “The Shnozzola” for his long nose, Jimmy had personality to spare, and a very unique personality it was, delivering his staccato punchlines in a gravel-voiced bewilderment at the outrageous fortunes of life.
When sound movies were invented, Durante was included, and in 1934 he wrote and recorded the novelty song and smash hit “Inka Dinka Do,” that would be his theme song the rest of his long career, along with his tag line after a joke, “I got a million of ’em.”
Jimmy Durante (1893-1980) was one of radio’s biggest personalities in the Golden Age of Radio as well as being featured in dozens of movies.
He had an almost universal appeal, best explained by nightclub owner and entertainer Lou Burdo: “Jimmy was so successful and well liked because he had no competition. Nobody was doing what Durante was doing; musician, singer, comedian, hoofer, master of ceremonies, you name it, he did it, and did it well. Nobody else could do what Jimmy did.”
Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.
•Suggested Activities: Stop the music, stop the music! Then tell a joke.