Whatever Happened to Vaudeville/Chidabee,
Boys with the Proboscis
Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home?
Lady Durante Impersonator/Mad for that Man
British Take Over The Show
Date with Lucille Ball
Any State in the 48 is Great
I’ll Do The Strutaway in My Cutaway/Who Will
Be With You When I’m Far Away?
Living Era has already given
us a Best Of Durante disc, naturally
entitled The Great Schnozzle, and now
follows up with live radio broadcasts from
the years 1947 to 1951. The majority derive
from Durante’s own show but he’s also heard
guesting on Sinatra’s show and with Bob Hope
(undated) as well as joining equally big stars
on The Philco Radio Time and The Big Show.
These were the years of Durante’s great radio
breakthrough; he’d been teamed with the younger
Garry Moore in 1943 and the duo worked well
off each other and when Moore left Durante
carried on with sidekick pals such as Arthur
Treacher, Alan Young and Don Ameche.
Sound quality on these extended
excerpts is for the most part pretty good
and we get to hear a considerable amount of
the Ron Bargy directed band supporting Durante’s
extravagant self at the microphone. There
are a number of his co-compositions and a
plethora of mispronunciations and plenty of
ad-lib banter and corpsing with co-stars.
One of the funniest sequences is the meeting
of Durante and the two crooning stars Crosby
and Dick Haymes. To hear the latter crack
up on air is a treat, goaded as he is by Durante’s
irresistible and infectious personality. Alan
Young proves a match in a slightly later show,
doing Romberg with gusto and trading ad-libs
with the Master. The Big Show was hosted by
Tallulah Bankhead and her eyebrow cocking
sensuality and aristocratic Southern wit is
duly preserved in this extract.
Rose Marie – yes, that Rose
Marie – comes on with a creditable Durante
impersonation from the days when they weren’t
quite as ubiquitous as they were to become
and we get more than a mere whiff of Broadway
and screen when Eddie Cantor blows into town
for a series of melodies which he and the
host dust down with panache and vigour. Englishman
Arthur Treacher was a well-known figure and
his silly ass persona usually works - though
his Old-Chap-Old-Fruit-Old-Bean act doesn’t
survive the years so well. He was much better
at side-of-the-mouth repartee. As a sign of
the Times Already Arrived we have Durante
guesting with Sinatra, the younger man plainly
having a fair degree of fun.
And that applies to this
disc as well – well compiled, nicely annotated
and with a good range of material.