The Jimmy Durante Show

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The Jimmy Durante Show
Genre Comedy/Variety
Written by Bob Schiller
Directed by Sheldon Leonard
Starring Jimmy Durante
Peter Lawford
Eddie Jackson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 51
Production
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 25 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run October 2, 1954 (1954-10-02) – June 23, 1956 (1956-06-23)
Chronology
Preceded by Your Show of Shows (1953-1954)
Followed by Caesar's Hour (1957-1958)

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

Production background[edit]

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. [1]

After his starring role on the NBC sitcom 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.[2]

Flamboyant pianist Liberace was a guest three times. Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda appeared twice on the show with Durante. During the August 4, 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.

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.[1]

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.[3]

In the first season, Durante followed The Imogene Coca Show, which premiered on the same night on the NBC Saturday schedule. His competition was My Favorite Husband on CBS and Saturday evening boxing on ABC. In its second season, Durante faced opposition from Janis Paige's new CBS situation comedy, It's Always Jan, about a young widow with two female roommates. Paige's attempt at network television failed after twenty-six weeks. Oddly, Bob Schiller was the principal writer on both the Durante and Paige series.[1][4]

Certain Durante episodes ran on NBC as a 1957 summer replacement series. With his 1954 debut, Durante took over the second half of the Your Show of Shows time slot. In 1957, Caesar's Hour, another version of the Sid Caesar program, moved into the time slot that Durante vacated.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Jimmy Durante Show". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved November 15, 2010. 
  2. ^ Alex McNeil, Total Television, p. 432
  3. ^ via Associated Press. "Jimmy Durante dies; 'Schnozzola' was 86", The Free Lance–Star, January 29, 1980. Accessed November 24, 2010.
  4. ^ 1955-1956 United States network television prime-time schedule in Alex McNeil's Total Television