Height of Jerry Colonna (entertainer)
The height of Jerry Colonna (entertainer) is …m.
1. Where did Jerry Colonna (entertainer) come from ?
With his pop-eyed facial expressions and walrus-sized handlebar moustache, Colonna was known for singing loudly “in a comic caterwaul,” according to Raised on Radio author Gerald Nachman, and for his catchphrase, “Who’s Yehudi?”, uttered after many an old joke, although it usually had nothing to do with the joke. The line was believed to be named for violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin, and the search for Yehudi became a running gag on the Hope show.
2. What could we know about Jerry Colonna (entertainer) besides his height ?
Colonna played a range of nitwitted characters, the best-remembered of which was a moronic professor. Nachman wrote:
3. What are the projects of Jerry Colonna (entertainer) ?
Colonna started his career as a trombonist in orchestras and dance bands in and around his native Boston; he can be heard with Joe Herlihy’s orchestra on discs recorded for Edison Records in the late 1920s. During the 1930s, Colonna played with the CBS house orchestra, the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, and developed a reputation for prankishness. During his tenure at CBS he occasionally worked under bandleader Raymond Scott, and made several recordings with Scott’s famous Quintette which involved Colonna mouthing nonsense syllables over Scott’s band. His off-stage antics were so calamitous that CBS nearly fired him on more than one occasion. Fred Allen, then on CBS, gave Colonna periodic guest slots, and a decade later he joined the John Scott Trotter band on Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall.
4. Somme collaborations with Jerry Colonna (entertainer) ?
In an opera parody, Colonna hollered an aria “in a deadpan screech that became his trademark” on Bob Hope’s show, Nachman noted. Colonna was one of three memorable 1940s Kraft Music Hall discoveries. The others were pianist-comedian Victor Borge and Trotter’s drummer, music “depreciationist” Spike Jones.
Colonna had the ability to stretch a syllable to extreme lengths. In addition to songs (such as “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall, or nothing at aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall…”), he worked this bit into Road to Rio along with another of his catchphrases. The action periodically cuts to a cavalry riding to the rescue of Bing and Bob. At one point he exhorts his riders, “Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge!” At the end of the movie, when all is resolved and he is still “charging,” he pulls up and tells the audience, “Well, what do you know… we never quite made it. Exciting, though… wasn’t it?!”
According to radio historian Arthur Frank Wertheim, in Radio Comedy, Colonna was responsible for many of the catchphrases on Hope’s show, notably, “Give me a drag on that before you throw it away”, a crack the cast came to use to lance any bragging. Colonna’s usual salutation to Hope was, “Greetings, Gate!” and listeners soon began saying it.
Colonna was part of several of Hope’s early USO tours during the 1940s. Jack Benny’s singing sidekick Dennis Day, a talented impressionist as well as a singer, did an effective imitation of Colonna’s manic style and expressions.
Colonna joined ASCAP in 1956; his songwriting credits include “At Dusk”, “I Came to Say Goodbye”, “Sleighbells in the Sky” and “Take Your Time.” In the 1950s he released two LPs, Music? for Screaming!!! (Decca DL 5540) and He Sings and Swings (Mercury-Wing MGW 12153).
Colonna featured in three of the popular Hope-Crosby Road movies: Road to Singapore (1940) as Achilles Bombassa, Road to Rio (1947) as a Cavalry captain and The Road to Hong Kong (1962) in a cameo act. He can also be seen in the Fred Allen vehicle, It’s in the Bag! (1945), as psychiatrist Dr. Greenglass, and he made a brief appearance with Hope in the “Wife, Husband and Wolf” sketch in Star Spangled Rhythm. In 1956 he performed the featured song “My Lucky Charm” in the movie Meet Me in Las Vegas, starring Dan Dailey and Cyd Charisse.
He provided the voice of the March Hare in the Walt Disney animated movie version of Alice in Wonderland (1951) (another radio legend, Ed Wynn, voiced the Mad Hatter) and also lent his zany narration style to several Disney shorts, including Casey at the Bat from Make Mine Music (1946) and The Brave Engineer (1950).
Colonna left the Hope show as a regular in 1950, but he continued appearing with Hope on holiday television specials and live shows. He hosted his own television comedy series, The Jerry Colonna Show, which lasted a single season.
He was host of the “Revenge with Music” episode on The Colgate Comedy Hour in 1954. His TV work also included voicing Moon Mad Tiger on Time for Beany, serving as the second and last ringmaster/host/performer on Super Circus (1955–56), and appearing in a version of Babes in Toyland on Shirley Temple’s Storybook in 1960. He also made guest appearances in the 1957 Climax! episode “The Giant Killer”; the 1959 The Gale Storm Show episode “Come Back, Little Beatnik”; the 1965 McHale’s Navy episode “Hello, McHale? Colonna!”; and the 1966 The Monkees episode “Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth”.
Colonna also appeared in one of the oldest surviving kinescope recordings of a live television broadcast, from 1947.
He was of Italian heritage. Colonna’s parents were Elisabetta Magro and Giuseppe Colonna from Muro Lucano (Potenza). He married Florence Purcell, (Porciello) whom he reportedly met on a blind date in 1930; the couple adopted a son, Robert, in 1941. The marriage lasted 56 years. After his guest shot on The Monkees, Colonna suffered a stroke. Its paralytic effect forced his retirement from show business (save for a couple of brief cameo appearances in late 1960s/early 1970s Bob Hope specials), and a 1979 heart attack forced him to spend the last seven years of his life in the Motion Picture and Television Hospital. Florence stayed by his side to the end, when he died of kidney failure in 1986. She died eight years later at the same hospital.
His son, Robert Colonna, has been involved in theater for nearly 60 years, since first appearing on stage with his father. He was a member of the famed Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island. He is the founder and director of the Rhode Island Shakespeare Theater. He has also directed many productions at Rhode Island College. http://www.ric.edu/mtd/cv/Pages/Bob-Colonna.aspx
Colonna’s great-great niece is American stand-up comedian Sarah Colonna. It is not known if he was related to the Italian Colonna family of nobles.
Colonna was a popular radio and movie figure at the same time that Warner Bros. cartoons hit their stride. Accordingly, his facial expressions and catchphrases were caricatured many times in the company’s cartoons. Along with “Greetings, Gates!” variations and references to “Yehudi,” several cartoons included variations on his oft-used observation, “Ahhhh, yes! [appropriate adjective], isn’t it?!”
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