"Good night, Mrs. Calabash —wherever you are!" For years, Jimmy Durante ended his radio and television shows with that mysterious tag line. Some people thought Mrs. Calabash was a fictional character, but others were convinced she was real. Among those were the residents of Calabash, North Carolina believe otherwise. The folks in this town will tell you she was a real person, that Mrs. Calabash was really a local woman named Lucille "Lucy" Coleman. Here's the story... all apocryphal of course.
In 1940, Lucy was 28 years old and running a restaurant in Calabash, then a tiny seaside community bordering South Carolina. Durante and his touring vaudeville group supposedly stopped in for dinner. It may have been the genuine homespun friendliness of the young restaurant owner that prompted the gregarious Jimmy Durante to beckon Lucy over to his table for some short chitchat. "I'm going to make you famous," said Durante. It wasn't long afterward that this popular entertainer began signing off his radio shows with a similar message.
For years, audiences enjoyed this rather lighthearted farewell mystery. By the time of Durante's
Lucy Coleman died in 1989, nearly 50 years after meeting Jimmy Durante and nine years after Jimmy passed on. Calabash residents claim that Lucy had no desire to claim credit as the real Mrs. Calabash.
Their are other claimants of course... But I like that story best.