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Sunday, August 12, 2007

To Ward Clem on Mrs. Calabash

Yep, Jimmy is the good soul who inspired me.
Somehow, his signature phrase touched my heart with the essence of all of those who diligently do good in the background, without expecting anything in return for their mostly unnoticed efforts.
Did a google search for Mrs. Calabash, and Kumpster's blogspot ( was the 6th entry on the list.
Also found this:
Randy in Ft. Worth said: "At the close of his act, Jimmy Durante would always say 'Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.' Who was Mrs. Calabash?"
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.
Ward Clem


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