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|Also Known As:||James Frances Durante||Died:||January 29, 1980|
|Born:||February 10, 1893||Cause of Death:||pneumonia|
|Birth Place:||New York City, New York, USA||Profession:||Cast ... comedian vaudevillian songwriter actor|
A big-nosed, ingratiating performer of stage, screen and radio, Jimmy Durante possessed a unique gravelly voice, a raucous manner and a persona which later in life radiated a love of the old showbiz traditions of vaudeville and slapstick. He began his career playing honky-tonk piano in New York saloons, working his way into a vaudeville act with partners Lou Clayton and Eddie Jackson. The three opened the Club Durant in 1919, a speakeasy which rocketed them to fame. The trio spent the 1920s entertaining from their club as well as on the vaudeville circuit, including a long run at the Palace Theater. They also appeared in Ziegfeld's "Show Girl" (1929) and Cole Porter's "The New Yorkers" (1930). Durante--with his brash, lovable mien and cries of "hotcha-cha!"--branched out alone in such Broadway shows as "Strike Me Pink" (1933), Billy Rose's "Jumbo" (1935) with a score by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and book by Charles MacArthur and Ben Hecht, and another Cole Porter musical, "Red, Hot and Blue." He also made numerous radio appearances in the 30s and 40s.
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