James Francis ?Jimmy? Durante (February 10, 1893 ? January 29, 1980) was an American singer, pianist, comedian and actor, whose distinctive gravel delivery, comic language butchery, jazz-influenced songs, and large nose ? his frequent jokes about it included a frequent self-reference that became his nickname: "Schnozzola" ? helped make him one of America's most familiar and popular personalities of the 1920s through the 1970s.
Durante was born in Brooklyn, the third of four children born to Italian-Americans Mitch Durante (1855-1929) and Margaret Durante (1858-1936). A product of working-class New York, Durante dropped out of school in the eighth grade to become a full-time ragtime pianist, working the city circuit and earning the nickname "Ragtime Jimmy," before he joined one of the first recognizable jazz bands in New York, the Original New Orleans Jazz Band. Durante was the only member of the group who did not hail from New Orleans. His routine of breaking into a song to deliver a joke, with band or orchestra chord punctuation after each line became a Durante trademark. In 1920, the group was renamed Jimmy Durante's Jazz Band.