Jimmy Durante - Rotten Tomatoes

Jimmy Durante

Known to friends, family and fans as "The Schnozzola" because of his Cyrano-sized nose, American entertainer Jimmy Durante was the youngest child of an immigrant Italian barber. Fed up with his schooling by the second grade, Durante dedicated himself to becoming a piano player, performing in the usual dives, beer halls and public events. He organized a ragtime band, playing for such spots as the Coney Island College Inn and Harlem's Alamo Club. He secured two long-lasting relationships in 1921 when he married Maud Jeanne Olson and formed a professional partnership with dancer Eddie Jackson; two years later Durante and Jackson combined with another dancer, Lou Jackson, to form one of the best-known roughhouse teams of the 1920s. Clayton, Jackson and Durante opened their own speakeasy, the Club Durant (they couldn't afford the "E" on the sign), which quickly became the "in" spot for show-business celebrities and the bane of Prohibition agents. Durante was clearly the star of the proceedings, adopting his lifelong stage character of an aggressive, pugnacious singer, yelling "Stop the music" at the slightest provocation and behaving as though he had to finish his song before the authorities hauled him away for having the nerve to perform. Durante's trio went uptown in the Ziegfeld musical Show Girl in 1929, the same year that Durante made his screen debut in Roadhouse Nights.

Though popular in personal appearances, Durante's overbearing performing style did not translate well to movies, especially when MGM teamed the megawatt Durante with stone-faced comedian Buster Keaton. Though Durante and Keaton liked each other, their comedy styles were not compatible. Durante had reached his peak in films by 1934, and was thereafter used only as a specialty or in supporting roles. On stage, however, Durante was still a proven audience favorite: he stopped the show with the moment in the 1935 Billy Rose stage musical Jumbo, wherein, while leading a live elephant away from his creditors, he was stopped by a cop. "What are you doing with that elephant?" demanded the cop. Durante looked askance and bellowed, "What elephant?" In hit after hit on Broadway, Durante was a metropolitan success, expanding his popularity nationwide with a radio program co-starring young comedian Garry Moore, which began in 1943, the year of Durante's first wife's death (she may or may not have been the "Mrs. Calabash" to whom he said goodnight at the end of each broadcast). Virtually out of films by the 1950s, Durante continued to thrive on TV and in nightclubs, finding solace in his private life with his 1960 marriage to Margie Little. By the mid-1960s, Durante was capable of fracturing a TV audience simply by mangling the words written for him on cue cards; a perennial of ABC's weekly Hollywood Palace, he took on a weekly series in his 76th year in a variety program co-starring the Lennon Sisters. Suffering several strokes in the 1970s, Durante decided to retire completely, though he occasionally showed up (in a wheelchair) for such celebrations as MGM's 50th anniversary. Few stars were as beloved as Durante, and even fewer were spoken of so highly and without any trace of jealousy or rancor after his death in 1980; perhaps this adulation was due in part to Durante's ending each performance by finding a telephone, dialing G-O-D, and saying "Thanks!"



No Score Yet Roadhouse Nights
  • Actor
No Score Yet TV Mania Too!
  • Actor
No Score Yet Unknown Jimmy Durante
  • Actor
No Score Yet The Unknown Jimmy Durante: The Great Schnozzola
  • Actor
No Score Yet Judy Garland's Hollywood
  • Actor
100% That's Entertainment! III
  • Actor
60% Frosty the Snowman
  • Narrator
No Score Yet Alice Through the Looking-Glass
  • Humpty Dumpty
75% It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
  • Smiler Grogan
No Score Yet Billy Rose's Jumbo
  • Anthony "Pop" Wonder
No Score Yet The Last Judgement (Il giudizio universale)
  • Actor
No Score Yet Pepe
  • Himself
No Score Yet Beau James
  • Himself
No Score Yet A Christmas Wish (The Great Rupert)
  • Mr. Amendola
No Score Yet On an Island with You
  • Buckley
No Score Yet This Time for Keeps
  • Ferdi Farro
No Score Yet It Happened in Brooklyn
  • Nick Lombardi
No Score Yet Two Sisters From Boston
  • 'Spike'
75% Ziegfeld Follies
  • Actor
No Score Yet Music for Millions
  • Andrews
No Score Yet Two Girls and a Sailor
  • Billy Kipp
80% The Man Who Came to Dinner
  • Banjo
No Score Yet Melody Ranch
  • Actor
No Score Yet Melody Ranch
  • Cornelius J. Courtney
No Score Yet Little Miss Broadway
  • Jimmy Clayton
No Score Yet Forbidden Music
  • Jonah J. Whistler
No Score Yet Carnival (Carnival Nights)
  • Fingers
No Score Yet Hollywood Party
  • Schnarzan the Shouting Conqueror
No Score Yet Palooka
  • Knobby Walsh/Junior
No Score Yet Meet the Baron
  • Joe McGoo - the Favorite 'Schnozzle' of the Screen
No Score Yet Hell Below
  • Ptomaine
No Score Yet What! No Beer?
  • Jimmy Potts
No Score Yet The Phantom President
  • Curly Cooney
No Score Yet Blondie of the Follies
  • Jimmy
No Score Yet Speak Easily
  • James
No Score Yet The Passionate Plumber
  • McCracken
No Score Yet The Wet Parade
  • Abe Schilling
No Score Yet The Cuban Love Song
  • O.O. Jones
No Score Yet New Adventures of Get Rich Quick Wallingford
  • Schnozzle

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