Jimmy Durante  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

James Francis "Jimmy" Durante (February 10, 1893 – January 29, 1980) was an American singer, pianist, comedian, and actor. His distinctive clipped gravelly speech, comic language butchery, jazz-influenced songs, and large nose helped make him one of America's most familiar and popular personalities of the 1920s through the 1970s. His jokes about his nose included referring to it as a "Schnozzola", and the word became his nickname.

Cultural references

  • In The Unit (season 4) episode "Switchblade", when the team seems to be outgunned at an overseas embassy that is under siege, one of their shooters has been killed, and their escape aircraft has been incapacitated, Mack Gerhardt says, "Good night, Mrs. Calabash".
  • British comedian Eric Morecambe would occasionally break into an impression of Durante on the Morecambe and Wise Show while wearing a plastic cup on his nose, miming piano-playing and putting on a fake accent to say: "Sitting at my pianna the udder day ..." (referencing Durante's song "I'm The Guy who Found the Lost Chord").
  • This was also mimicked by John Thaw's character Jack Regan, in The Sweeney episode The Trojan Bus. During a scene, Regan covers his nose with a polystyrene cup whilst reciting the words, in order to make fun of the fact that his sergeant, George Carter, has sustained a swollen nose during a fight, in the course of making an arrest.
  • Herry Monster from Sesame Street had a voice (and nose) modeled after Jimmy Durante.
  • A street on the east side of Las Vegas is named after Durante. A street in Del Mar, California, specifically located at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, is also named after him.
  • The voice of Apocalypse Lane character Cuddles the cat was said to be "a vulgar Jimmy Durante" by creator Jon Etheridge.
  • Martin Short uses a Jimmy Durante imitation in character as aging vaudevillian songsmith Irving Cohen. When this character was revived almost 20 years later for his one-man show, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, he amped up the Durante imitation to the point of using his catchphrase "Ha-cha-cha-chaaaaaaa!" as his exit line.
  • In the late 1960s, Jimmy Durante appeared in a commercial for Scotties tissue, claiming that he liked them because they were "3-sneezers".
  • A 2008 Acura MDX commercial uses Durante's "Make Someone Happy" throughout.
  • Crow, from Mystery Science Theater 3000, often imitated Jimmy Durante during movies or in sketches.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls Movie, there is a monkey that is named Ha-cha-cha-cha and has a big nose, which refers to Jimmy's quote ha-cha-cha-cha.
  • In the improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway, Durante is often referred to in impressions, either as a character the player pretends to be, or as a visual gag (such as in the game Props, in which a player would hold their prop to their face, imitating Durante's nose, and go "Ha-cha-cha-chaaaa!")
  • Cartoonist Drew Friedman created a one-page comic strip for Spy Magazine called "Jimmy Durante Boffs Young Starlets." The strip shows Durante with a bevy of young ladies to whom he exclaims, "And you goils thought my NOSE was big!"
  • The 1991 film City Slickers features Durante singing "Young At Heart" during scenes from the first day of the cattle drive.
  • The comic band The Blanks, also known as "Ted's Band" from the US comedy-drama Scrubs, released a song in their album Ride The Wave called "The Ballad of Jimmy Durante". The song tells the story of Jimmy's life, with mention of his "Schnozz", "Ha cha cha cha" and everybody wanting to get into the act.
  • In the musical 42nd Street, (set in the year 1933), the song "Gettin' Out of Town" features the phrase "hot-cha-cha-cha, hot-cha-cha-cha"—a possible reference to Durante.
  • Referenced in a Crispy Critters cereal commercial (1987). The commercials for the cereal featured a puppet named "Crispy" with pom-pom antennae and a furry yellow body. Crispy spoke and sang with a voice based on that of Jimmy Durante including the nonsense phrase "Ah-cha-cha-cha".
  • Glenn Beck parodied Jimmy Durante's "Mrs. Calabash" sign-off on his Television show replacing "Mrs. Calabash" with "Mrs. Dunn".
  • In the Cole Porter song "You're The Top", in the Broadway show Anything Goes, Reno, while listing pairs of great things, rhymes the line "You're a rose; you're Inferno's Dante" with "You're the nose on the great Durante."
  • In the Sealab 2021 episode "Waking Quinn," Dr. Quinn hallucinates a gravelly-voiced sea lion named "Stinky Pete," who uses Durante's line "Ah-cha-cha-cha-chaaa!"






Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jimmy Durante" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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