Sicilian Culture

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Sicilian Culture: The People

Jimmy Durante
[James Vincent Durante]
November 10, 1893  - - -  January 29, 1980

Born on Manhattan's Lower East Side, he was regarded as funny, kind, gentle and well loved by everyone.  They say Jimmy Durante, best known for his trademark nose and as "schnozolla", was the same person on stage as he was off.  

Jimmy started his career playing in speakeasy bars in the 1920s in Manhattan and Harlem and migrated to Vaudeville.  There was noting artificial about him, and he was sincere.  He was a singer, a dancer, a piano player, a comedian and genuine. He started like most entertainers in his day, on radio, but soon moved to television and even movies.  He had many favorites on his television show, but one of which was also Frank Sinatra. The two were very fond of each other and Jimmy even made the movie "It Happened in Brooklyn" with Sinatra.   

In 1960 he married the woman he used to constantly tease in his audience who he made part of the act.  Soon, love grew and he made her part of his life until the time of his death in 1980.

He would end every broadcast by saying "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are".  While its often been the subject of debate, most believe he was saying good night to all the lonely and widowed women who did not a mate near by them and went to bed alone.

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