The Jimmy Durante Show

The Jimmy Durante Show is a 51-episode half-hour comedy/variety television program presented live on NBC from October 2nd, 1954 to June 23rd, 1956.

Several guest stars on the program later developed successful show business careers of their own.  Jimmy Durante’s long nose, piano, and broken vocabulary were the mainstays of the program, which aired at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturdays.  In the first 1954-1955 season, Durante alternated with The Donald O’Connor Show, both sponsored by Texaco.
After his starring role on the NBC situation comedy Dear Phoebe ended and before he garnered the lead in the NBC drama The Thin Man, Peter Lawford, a brother-in-law of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, was a Durante regular, having appeared in six episodes from 1955-1956.  Dancer Eddie Jackson (1896–1980), a Durante partner along with Lou Clayton from their vaudeville days, appeared four times on the series.  Pianist Jules Buffano and drummer Jack Roth, former Durante associates, also guest starred on the program.  He also had singers known as the Durante Girls.

Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda appeared twice on the show with Durante.  During the August 4th, 1955 broadcast, Miranda suffered a heart attack.  Miranda fell to her knees while dancing with Durante, who instinctively told the band to “stop da music!” while helping her to get up.  Miranda laughed “I’m all out of breath!”, Durante replied, “Dat’s OK, honey, I’ll take yer lines.”  Miranda laughed again, quickly pulled herself together, and finished the show.  However, the next morning,  Miranda died at her home from heart failure.

 

Flamboyant pianist Liberace was a guest three times.  Others who appeared with Durante were Pat Carroll (later a regular on CBS’s The Danny Thomas Show), Marilyn Maxwell (Grace Sherwood on ABC’s 1961-1962 drama Bus Stop), George Jessel, Barbara Whiting Smith, George Raft, and The Borden Twins.  The series was filmed at RKO Studios in Hollywood.
The program was televised at Club Durant. Each episode usually ended with Durante’s catchphrase, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!”, an apparent reference to Durante’s deceased first wife.
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