Tag Archives: Jimmy Durante

8 October: Good night, Mr. and Mrs. Calabash . . . wherever you are . . .

The Old Schnozzola as legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld saw him, once . . .

The Old Schnozzola as legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld saw him, once . . .

Jimmy Durante experienced heartache enough in his otherwise charmed life. So much so that one of the great legends of his unusual career involved one of those heartaches.

The Old Schnozzola in 1943 was a man at extremely loose ends. It was bad enough that his career was in the proverbial tank—he’d taken over NBC’s Ed Wynn, the Fire Chief, now renamed Jumbo Fire Chief, in October 1935, but the extravagantly produced new version continued the Wynn ratings slide. Jumbo Fire Chief was cancelled in February 1936, and Durante went from there to make a series of films that drove him to rock bottom, in just about every sense of the term, by 1943.

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Of music and survival: Old-time radio listening, 27 May

Lux Radio Theater: Music for Millions (CBS, 1946)

Maestro Iturbi, who knew a little too much tragedy in his accomplished life. (Photo: Library of Congress.)

Maestro Iturbi, who knew a little too much tragedy in his accomplished life. (Photo: Library of Congress.)

The Academy Award-nominated film musical gets a coolly understated radio interpretation tonight, with three of its stars—Margaret O’Brien, Jimmy Durante, and classical pianist/conductor Jose Iturbi reprising their film roles. In some ways, it seems almost miraculous that Iturbi is alive and functioning, considering his past.

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On the threshold: Old-time radio listening, 24 December

Yuletide without Barrymore? Bah! Humbug! (Photo: CBS.)

For all who celebrate, and for anyone sorely in need of extra cheer this and any such season, today’s offerings are dedicated.

Columbia Workshop: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas (CBS, 24 December 1942)

Set in hell, delivered in verse (some of it, admittedly, is a little on the awkward side but the archness of the delivery and the quality of the bulk makes up for it), some of history’s most notorious villains to that point convene to plan Christmas’s demise—as soon as they can quell this little, ahem, family squabble. (Sit down, Haman—for I am Ivan the Terrible! Brother Ivan is a demagogue/with the brain like a fly and the manners of a hog.)

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Winning by a nose: Old-time radio listening, 8 October

The Jimmy Durante Show: Remembering the Early Years (NBC, 1947)

Jimmy Durante, who had a nose for fooling naysayers . . . (Photo: NBC)

H. Allen Smith (in Low Man on a Totem Pole) may have noted that the only thing on earth ever worrying Jimmy Durante was his hair, “or, rather, the gradual disappearance thereof,” but that was 1941, this is now, and Durante—who will never necessarily let on—has reason to be a little more nervous about a lot more than just his receding follicles.

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