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Jimmy Durante Biography


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Birth Name: Jimmy Durante
Born: 02/10/1893
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA
Death Place: Santa Monica, California, USA
Died: 01/29/1980


Durante's film career started rockily with "Roadhouse Nights" (1930). He was successfully teamed with Marion Davies in "Blondie of the Follies" (1932), but then MGM unwisely paired him with Buster Keaton in four films which did nothing for either performer. Durante appeared in a total of 21 films in the 30s, but the only ones of note were "The Phantom President" (1932), with George M. Cohan, the all-star "Hollywood Party" (1934), in which he served as host, and "Palooka" (1934), which introduced his theme song, "Inka-Dinka-Doo". He made another 15 films, mostly as an avuncular character actor and sidekick. Among his best were the Frank Sinatra musical "It Happened in Brooklyn" (1947), the Esther Williams splasher "On an Island with You" (1948), "Billy Rose's Jumbo" (1962) and his swan song, literally "kicking the bucket" in the all-star "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963).

The small screen gave Durante a second lease on life as his film career floundered. He guested on numerous shows through the early 50s, finally earning his own popular series from 1954-57 (first on NBC, then CBS). He continued popping up on variety specials through the early 70s, and narrated the frequently re-run Christmas special "Frosty the Snowman" (CBS, 1969). A kind and much-loved man on-stage and off, Durante's rasped exclamations "Everybody wants ta get into th' act!", "Stop da music!" and "Surrounded by assassins!" have entered the American consciousness.