22 January 2006

Call for Mrs. Calabash!

Randy in Ft. Worth said: At the close of his act, Jimmy Durante would always say "Goodnight Mrs. Callabash, wherever you are." Who was Mrs. Callabash?

Thank you for the question, Randy. I hope you are not holding your breath for an answer to this, because Durante never said and no one really knows. I have heard many explanations -- all of which seem equally plausible.

It might have been a woman running a restaurant in Calabash, North Carolina, who served Durante when he was traveling through town. I have heard reference to a woman running a boarding house who gave Durante free room and board when he was not yet successful in vaudeville. I would like to believe (as, I think, would most people), he was referring to his first wife Jeanne Olsen who died in 1943 after more than 20 years marriage.

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