Jimmy was a worldwide known and loved entertainer. Most who appeared on his radio show became stars in their own right. Incidentally, one of my favorites was the show’s regular singer, Peggy Lee. Another prejudiced choice of mine was, of course, my cousin, Dave Barry, who also appeared regularly to do the voice of a character named Mr. Bubbles. Dave sounded like he was underwater with the sound of bubbles coming from his throat. Audiences loved them.
After the death of Jimmy’s wife, Jeanne Olsen, in 1943, he began ending his radio program with the phrase, “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash; wherever you are”, as a tribute to her.
For the umpteenth time in my life, nostalgia clicks in, and there I am, for one reason or another, back in time, seeing, hearing, and above all, feeling. Both in color and black and white, a variety of emotions. Emotions I have learned to accept at the moment they occur. The ‘why’ of it all, I have successfully deemed to be of no immediate value other than as my stimulus to recapture thoughts of what I perceive them to be.
When I first saw the film “Sleepless in Seattle”, it was long after experiencing Jimmy Durante singing. Most people think of Jimmy only as a comical performer, but when you hear him become a serious deliverer of any number of real-life experiences, you, too, will capture what I did as well. It’s called “a lived-in truth”.
In “Sleepless in Seattle”, he renders his performance of “ As Time Goes By”. For those of us who’ve lived a day or two, turn your life’s memories up—his singular performance, just for you alone, may conjure the unexpected.
You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
And when two lovers woo
They still say “I love you”
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by
Moonlight and love songs
Never out of date
Hearts full of passion
Jealousy and hate
Woman needs man, and man must have his mate
That no one can deny
It’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by
–”As Time Goes By”–
Durante was playing himself, delivering his personal commentary of what life is all about just as he remained in contact with all near and dear to him while singing “As Time Goes By”. When he ended his radio program each week and uttered the famous words, “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash”, he was still feeling love for her (it was still the same old story about a man who had lost his wife, but life goes on). And all the people who gathered with him for his radio performance, week in and week out. Life goes on.
And the answer is, what I equate to as past, present, and future. Thousands have come before me seeking direction. I follow what we teach with religious fervor: be responsive to another, be responsive to yourself, be honest and true with those you know, those you intend to meet, with love, or merely in need of a helping hand. You and I, therefore, have something in common.
And so, with this day coming to its finality, I repeat to all who are still with me and all who have labored equally within our creative sphere of life, with a special shout out to a past colleague (and there are thousands I could name), the dearest Cloris Leachman, “say hello to anyone who knows me.”
And now you all know my secret.