Jimmy Durante

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Jimmy Durante

Durante as host of The Hollywood Palace, 1964.
Born James Francis Durante
February 10, 1893(1893-02-10)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died January 29, 1980(1980-01-29) (aged 86)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death Pneumonia
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names The Schnoz
The Great Schnozzola,
Inka Dinka Doo
Alma mater Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church
Occupation Actor, comedian, singer, pianist, writer
Years active 1920–1972
Political party Democrat
Spouse Jeanne Olsen (1921–1943; her death)
Margie Little (1960–1980; his death)
Children Adopted with Little:
Cecilia Alicia
Relatives 2 grandchildren
Signature

James Francis "Jimmy" Durante (February 10, 1893 – January 29, 1980) was an American singer, pianist, comedian, writer, and actor. His famous nickname was The Great Schnozzola (a reference to his big nose). He was also known for his deep raspy voice when he said "Ha-Cha-Cha-Chaaaaa!". He won an Emmy Award in 1952.

Early life[change | change source]

Durante was born on February 10, 1893 in Brooklyn, New York. His family were Italian Catholics.[1][2] He studied at the Saint Malachy's Roman Catholic Church (also known as The Actors' Chapel).[3]

Career[change | change source]

Durante in his last role in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 1963

Durante started acting in movies in the 1930s. He worked in comedy series with silent movie legend Buster Keaton. He later appeared in The Wet Parade (1932), Broadway to Hollywood (1933), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942, playing "Banjo", a character based on Harpo Marx), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962, based on the 1935 musical) and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963).

On September 10, 1933, Durante appeared on Eddie Cantor's radio show, The Chase and Sanborn Hour. He worked on the show until November 12 of that year. When Cantor later left, Durante took over the show as its star from April 22 to September 30, 1934. He then moved on to The Jumbo Fire Chief Program (1935–36).

On August 4, 1955, The Jimmy Durante Show on NBC was the venue of the final role by the famous Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda. Miranda fell to her knees while dancing with Durante, who quickly told the band, "STOP--the music!" He helped Miranda up to her feet as she laughed, "I'm all out of breath!". He repled, "That's OK, honey, I'll take your lines." Miranda laughed again and quickly pulled herself together and finished the show. However, the next morning, August 5, Miranda died at home from another heart attack.

Marriages[change | change source]

Jimmy Durante's grave with Margaret's grave

Durante was married to Jeanne Olsen from 1921 until her death in 1943 from heart disease.[4] He was later married to Margie Little from 1960 until his own death in 1980.[5] Little and Durante adopted one daughter, Cecilia Alicia.

Political views and health[change | change source]

Durante was a member of the Democratic Party.[6] He retired in 1972 after having many strokes which left him in a wheelchair.

Death[change | change source]

Durante died on January 29, 1980 in his home in Santa Monica, California. He died from pneumonia, and was 86 years old. He is buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. Fowler, Gene Jr. Schnozzola: The Story of Jimmy Durante Viking Press, 1951
  2. Bakish, David Jimmy Durante: His Show Business Career, with an Annotated Filmography and Discography McFarland & Co., 1994 ISBN 978-0-89950-968-6
  3. Posted by Vincenzo (2009-10-24). "The Actors’ Chapel". Sancte Pater. http://www.sanctepater.com/2009/10/actors-chapel.html. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  4. See California Death Records - Jeanne Durante
  5. "Margaret "Margie" Durante Obituary: View Margaret Durante's Obituary by La Jolla Light". Legacy.com. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/lajollalight/obituary.aspx?n=margaret-durante-margie&pid=131282332. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  6. "Give a Man a Job - 1933". YouTube. 2009-01-30. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jiUu8od_I8. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  7. "Durante Family and Friends attend Funeral Rite," The New York Times, February 2, 1980, p. 13.

Other websites[change | change source]