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Jimmy Durante

James Francis Jimmy Durante (February 10, 1893 - January 29, 1980) was an American entertainer, one of the most popular and recognized personalities of the 1920s-1960s. Durante was a pianist, actor, comedian, as well as a singer with a distinctive hoarse voice with a strong working class New York City accent. He was noted for his large nose which he frequently made jokes about, which earned him the nickname Schnozzola.

Jimmy Durante was born New York City. He dropped out of school in eighth-grade to play ragtime piano.

In his youth Durante worked as pianist and entertainer in New York city, nickmaned Ragtime Jimmy. About 1917 he joined one of the first jazz bands in New York, The Original New Orleans Jazz Band (all other musicians were from New Orleans). Durante's outgoing personality and ability to sell a number to the audience started attracting greater attention, and by 1920 the band was renamed Jimmy Durante's Jazz Band.

In the mid 1920s he became a star on Vaudeville and radio with his music & comedy trio Clayton Jackson & Durante (with Lou Clayton and Eddie Jackson); despite third billing Durante was the star of the act.

He had big hit in 1934 with his composition Inka Dinka Do, a novelty number he sang and played piano on, and which became his signature song.

In 1935 he starred in Billy Rose's spectacle, Jumbo. In the show, a policeman stops him while leading a live elephant and asks What are you doing with that elephant? Durante stopped the show by saying Elephant? What elephant?

He was featured in a series of comedy motion pictures paired with Buster Keaton.

Durante had a nationally broadcast radio variety show; in the 1950s he had a television show as well. He continued making movie appearances through 1963 and television appearances until 1970.

Jimmy Durante died in Santa Monica, California of pneumonia, and was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City.


Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Jimmy Durante Facts

Birth NameJames Francis Durante
OccupationActor
BirthdayFebruary 10, 1893
SignAquarius
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathJanuary 29, 1980 (age 86)
Height5' 7" (1m70)  How tall is Jimmy Durante compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Not available.