Jimmy Durante Birthday & Fun Facts

Height, Age, Net Worth, Biography & More

Martha Martins
Sep 03, 2022 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on May 26, 2022
Fact-checked by Rakesh Pillai
Jimmy Durante was the only member in The Original New Orleans Jazz Band who was not from New Orleans.
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All ages
Read time: 8.9 Min

About Jimmy Durante

James Francis Durante was a popular American comedian, actor, and pianist.
Many characters in cartoons, such as 'Looney Tunes' and 'Merrie Melodies', were based on Jimmy Durante. His prominent nose earned him the nicknames, 'The Schnoz' and 'The Great Schnozzola'.
The New Orleans Jazz Band was renamed Jimmy Durante's Jazz Band in 1920. He lived in his Beverly Hills home until he died on January 29, 1980, aged 86, in Santa Monica, California, U.S, and now rests at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City. This house in Beverly Hills, where Jimmy and his wife, Margaret, raised their daughter, was sold for $3.2 million in 2009, after the death of Margaret.

Jimmy Durante Net Worth, Earnings & Spending Habits

What was Jimmy Durante's net worth?

Jimmy Durante's net worth was $1.5 million.

How much did Jimmy Durante earn per year?

Jimmy Durante earned around $400,000 per year.

Height, Age & Physical Attributes

How tall was Jimmy Durante?

Jimmy Durante was 5 ft 6 in (168 cm) tall.

How old was Jimmy Durante?

Jimmy Durante was 87 years at the time of his death.

Childhood And Education

Born on the Lower East Side of New York City on February 10, 1893, Durante was the youngest child of immigrant parents, Rosa Lentino and Bartolomeo Durante. As a child, Durante was an altar boy at St. Malachy Roman Catholic Church.
Durante was a seventh-grade dropout and became a full-time ragtime piano player. He played with his cousin, with whom he shared his name. His professional stint in the piano bar circuit gave him another nickname, 'Ragtime Jimmy'.
His jokes in between lines in a song, with band or orchestra chord punctuation, became his trademark.

Family, Romance And Relationships

Jimmy was the youngest of four siblings born to Bartolomeo Durante and Rosa Lentino, who immigrated from Salerno, Italy. His father, Bartolomeo, was a barber. He had two brothers, Michael Durante and Albert Durante, and his sister was Lilian Romano.

Who was Jimmy Durante's partner?

Jimmy married his first wife, Jean Olson, on June 19, 1921. However, she died on February 14, 1943, due to a heart ailment, at the age of 46. Around 17 years after the death of Jean, he married Margaret Little, on December 14, 1960. Jimmy was 67 and Margaret was 41 when the marriage took place, at St. Malachy Roman Catholic Church in New York City. Jimmy and Margaret adopted their daughter, Cecilia Alicia, on December 25, 1961. Margaret survived Jimmy and passed away on June 7, 2009, at 89.

Career And Professional Highlights

The American actor with Italian roots attained stardom by the late '20s and early '30s. Jimmy's recordings for Gennett in the '20s made him a highly-talented jazz pianist and got him into New York jazz groups.
James Francis Durante changed his career from a ragtime pianist and became a vaudeville star and radio personality by the mid-'20s. Along with his closest friends, Lou Clayton and Eddie Jackson, Jimmy Durante appeared in the movie, 'Roadhouse Nights', at the beginning of 1930. In 1923, the friends also opened the Club Durante in New York. 'The New Yorkers', the Cole Porter musical on Broadway in December 1930, cast Jackson and Jimmy Durante.
Jimmy Durante had his first record hit in 1934, with his composition, 'Inka Dinka Doo', which then became his theme song. The following year he appeared on Broadway in the Bill Rose stage musical, 'Jumbo', in which he led a live elephant on stage. Jimmy Durante's other Broadway performances were in 'Show Girl', 'Red, Hot and Blue' and ‘Strike Me Pink.’|
Alternating between movie roles and Broadway, his initial motion pictures included an original musical, 'Rodgers & Hart', and 'The Phantom President'.
Jimmy Durant, paired with Buster Keaton, appeared in a series of three popular comedies and financial hits, namely, 'Speak Easily', 'The Passionate Plumber', and 'What! No Beer?'. His other film appearances include Broadway to Hollywood, 'The Wet Parade', 'Ziegfeld Follies', 'The Man Who Came To Dinner', Billy Rose's 'Jumbo', and 'Hollywood Party'. Jimmy Durante continued his film appearances with 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World'. He also continued his television appearances through the early '70s.
Durante's radio shows include Eddie Cantor's NBC radio show, 'The Chase and Sanborn Hour', 'The Jumbo Fire Chief Program', 'The Durante-Moore Show', 'Armed Forces Radio Network Command Performance with Frank Sinatra', and 'The Jimmy Durante Show'.
On television, James Francis Durante debuted on November 1, 1950. From 1950 to 1951, Jimmy hosted once a month on Wednesday evenings at 8 pm on NBC's comedy-variety series, 'Four Star Revue' and continued with the show until 1954.
Durante conducted 'The Jimmy Durante Show', a 30 minute variety show, on NBC from October 2, 1954, to June 23, 1956.
Jimmy also hosted ABC's 'Hollywood Palace Variety Show' in the '60s. His last regular television appearance was in a season-long 'Jimmy Durante Presents The Lennon Sisters Hour', in which he co-starred with The Lennon Sisters.

Best Known For…

James Francis Durante was best known as an actor, a comedian, a singer, a piano player, a radio program host, and a vaudeville artist. His gravelly speech with the Lower East Side accent was very famous. He was also known for his comic language-butchery and jazz-influenced songs.
Jimmy Durante joined hands with sidekick, Sonny King, a collaboration he continued until his death. He regularly appeared outside of Guardian Angel Cathedral in Las Vegas, after Sunday Mass, greeting people standing outside next to the priest.
His motion pictures include 'Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford', 'Roadhouse Nights', 'The New Adventures of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford', 'The Cuban Love Song', 'Jackie Cooper's Birthday Party', 'The Christmas Party', 'Hollywood on Parade: Down Memory Lane', 'The Wet Parade', 'Hollywood on Parade', and 'Speak Easily'.
His appearance in the musical, 'Keep off the Grass', was Jimmy's last appearance on Broadway. Many of his wonderful Broadway performances were preserved either in films or as recordings.
Jimmy performed solo musical comedy during the years of the Great Depression in New York, which turned out to be a great success at New York's Copacabana. This made him a top billing person on radio and television.
The voice for the snowman character in 'Frosty the Snowman', the animated Christmas cartoon in 1969, was given by Jimmy Durante. Jimmy was cast in many animations due to his distinctive voice, looks, and catchphrases. The voice of Jimmy inspired the bulldog named Spike, in the world-famous MGM cartoon, 'Tom and Jerry'.
'Bosko's Picture Show', directed by Harman Ising, featured a caricature of Adolf Hitler following Jimmy with a meat cleaver. Other examples include 'A Gruesome Twosome', which shows a cat based on Jimmy and 'Baby Bottleneck' with a stork similar to Jimmy.
Jimmy's caricature was featured on the cover of Edna Ferber's novel, 'So Big'. It referred to his nose as 'so big' and showed Jimmy helping the capture of a runaway criminal, turning his nose sideways to trip the criminal while he was turning the corner.
'Hollywood Daffy' features Jimmy as himself, saying his catchphrase, 'Those are the conditions that prevail!' Lou Costello was briefly forced to imitate Jimmy, singing 'Lullaby of Broadway' in 'The Mouse-Merized Cat', The final line of Bugs in the 'Stage Door' cartoon was 'I got a million of 'em!', another famous catchphrase of Jimmy's.
Jimmy's voice was used in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon 'Fred and Barney Meet the Thing'.
The album, 'September Song', was recorded by Jimmy in 1963. As it became a best-seller, Durante was re-introduced to another generation, after around three decades of his recognition as a world-renowned ragtime piano player.

Charity Work

Jimmy was very fond of children. Jimmy's love for children inspired him to associate with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international non-profit organization that raises money for disabled and abused children. In 1966, the Fraternal Order of Eagles named it's Children's Fund in honor of Jimmy.
Over $20 million was raised in his memory to help children. In 1968 a heated therapy swimming pool, named by Jimmy, 'Inka Dinka Doo Pool', was built at the Hughen School in Port Arthur, Texas, using money from the Durante Fund.
Al Bahr Shriners Temple honored him with an award, a three-foot-high brass, loving cup, on August 15, 1958, for his charitable acts.

What awards did Jimmy Durante win?

Jimmy was awarded a Primetime Emmy Award in 1953, a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, for 'Jumbo' (1962), a Peabody Award in 1931 and 1951, and a star on the Walk Of Fame in 1960.
He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Best Comedian, a Primetime Emmy for Most Outstanding Personality (1952), a Golden Globe in 1963, a Laurel Award in 1963, and a Golden Laurel Award for Top Male Musical Performance, for 'Jumbo' (1962).
He was also award a Photoplay Award for Best Performance of the Month (December) for 'The Cuban Love Song' (1931), which was shared with Lawrence Tibbett and Lupe Velez.

Jimmy Durante's Hobbies And Interests

Apart from his versatile activities, there were no other known hobbies and interests nurtured by Jimmy.

Other Interesting Jimmy Durante Facts And Trivia

  • Jimmy suffered a stroke that left him in a wheelchair and caused him to retire from the entertainment business. Later, severe pneumonia took his life in 1980, while he was in California.
  • Jimmy used a catchphrase at the end of his show on the radio, 'Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.' Later it was revealed that he used it in the memory of his first wife, who died due to a heart ailment. It was also believed that 'Calabash' was a joke between the couple, as his wife used to mispronounce Calabasas.
  • The foreword for the book, 'Cockeyed Americana', was written by Jimmy Durante.
  • Jimmy had to face a legal challenge to adopt his daughter, CeCe, as he was considered too old to take care of a young child. However, he won the case and he was able to adopt CeCe with his wife, Margaret.
  • 'Hollywood Mouth', released in 2008, has picturized Jimmy's mid-century modern-style home on Beverly Drive, in Beverly Hills.
  • As the duration of the movie, 'Little Miss Broadway, was considered too long, a part performed by Shirley Temple and Jimmy was cut from the film. The song and dance number was 'Hop, Skip, Jump, and Slide'.
  • In honor of Jimmy, a street on the east side of Las Vegas, Nevada, was named after him.
  • The mascot, Crispy, for Crispy Critters cereal, was also based on the voice and appearance of Jimmy Durante.
  • Mortimer Mouse, a character in 'Mickey Mouse Works', which Maurice LaMarche voiced, was also based on Jimmy.
  • Jimmy was imitated in Terrytoon's 'Heckle and Jeckle' cartoon series by one of the main characters.
  • The Grauman's Chinese Theatre displays Jimmy Durante's noseprint, handprint, and signature.
  • An active member of the Democratic Party, Jimmy Durante appeared in an advertisement in 1933. He also wrote a musical score to accompany it titled 'Give a Man a Job.'
  • He also gave performances at the inaugural gala in 1961 and at the famous Madison Square Garden Rally, which featured the song, 'Happy Birthday', sung by Marilyn Monroe.

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Jimmy Durante Birthday & Fun Facts Facts

Birth Name

James Francis Durante

Date of Birth

1893-02-10

Date of Death

1980-01-29

Nationality

American

Place of Birth

New York

Height

168 cm

Eye Color

Dark Brown

Child Star?

No

Occupation

Actor, Comedian, Singer, Pianist, Vaudeville Artist

Education

Public School 114, New York

Net Worth

1500000

Partner

Jean Olsen, Margaret Little

Parents

Bartolomeo Durante, Rosa Lentino

Siblings

Michael Durante, Albert Durante, Lilian Romano

Annual Earnings

400000
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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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