How anyone could be nostalgic for such an unlikely entertainment personality is beyond me, but here we are.
James Francis “Jimmy” Durante (February 10, 1893 – January 29, 1980) was an American singer, pianist, comedian, and actor. His distinctive clipped gravelly speech, New York accent, comic language butchery, jazz-influenced songs, and prominent nose helped make him one of America’s most familiar and popular personalities of the 1920s through the 1970s. He often referred to his nose as the Schnozzola, and the word became his nickname.
One of my earliest childhood memories is Jimmy Durante’s sign-off from his TV variety program The Jimmy Durante Show (which aired from October 2, 1954 to June 23, 1956): “Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are”—whereupon Durante walks offstage through a series of four spotlights. Durante’s bulbous nose, piano, and broken vocabulary were the mainstays of the half-hour program.
There are a number of theories regarding the origin of his familiar sign-off, but this is my favorite. Some say that it referred to the owner of a restaurant in Calabash NC, where Durante and his troupe had stopped to eat. He was so taken by the food, the service, and the chitchat, he told the owner that he would make her famous. Since he did not know her name, he referred to her as “Mrs. Calabash.”
Well, I have been looking for some time for an excuse to feature this song as “The Groove of the Day,” lacking more pressing subject-matter, and with the arrival in a few minutes of one of my friends for a visit, today’s the day.
Groove of the Day
82° and Clear