Chairman His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting by advising of five apologies. He also welcomed two guests to the meeting Alan Hainsworth and Douglas McFarlane and hoped they would enjoy proceedings. The Chairman continued by commenting on last weeks meeting and advising that he was looking for volunteers to perform the cancan at the Christmas Lunch and then shared a well received “bon mot” with the audience.
Mike South, due to increasing audience numbers, advised of evacuation procedures and toilet protocols to minimise lock-ins!! Members were advised that John Taylor was taking orders for Christmas Lunch and it would be helpful to have orders back in the next fortnight. Tom Snelling took to the floor to advise about Otley Men’s Forum which takes place on a Thursday morning and which would welcome increased numbers of attendees.
Todays Speaker was Forum Secretary Neil Ramshaw whose chosen topic was “The Great Schnozzle”. This talk looked at the life and career of Jimmy Durante, the New York born son of Italian immigrants, and whose stellar show business career traversed much of the 20th century. Starting as a Rag Time and Jazz pianist in venues frequented by gangsters and other less desirables , he and his partners Clayton and Jackson moved into Vaudeville and onto Broadway where Durante himself became an individual star of many mediums including Broadway; Films; Radio and the Golden Age of American Television. On Radio and T.V. he had his own shows as well as making frequent guest appearances on many others and he was involved with the biggest and most celebrated performers and personalities of the day from across the spectrum of performing arts. Although he developed a multi faceted and diverse career his great love remained performing live in night clubs and he maintained these appearances throughout the years appearing at the biggest and best venues in the States.
His extensive career of over 60 years was brought to a close at the age of 79 following a massive stroke even though he survived a few more years, albeit in poor health, before passing away at the age of 86.
In all his years in show business Durante established and maintained a reputation for staying true to his roots, displaying loyalty, generosity and kindness and this was reciprocated by the great affection he was regarded with by family, friends and the general public and he was paid many heartfelt tributes both during his lifetime and after his death—-a legend of show business who still lives on in popular culture!!
The Vote of Thanks was given by Peter Staples (my thanks to Peter for the Durante Toby Jug he allowed me to display) on behalf of the forty-five attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY