Jimmy Durante's radio show was bracketed with two trademarks: "Inka Dinka Doo" as his opening theme, and the invariable signoff that became another familiar national catchphrase: "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are." For years Durante preferred to keep the mystery alive, but eventually relented.
One theory was that the phrase referred to the owner of a restaurant in Calabash, North Carolina, where Jimmy and his troupe stopped once to eat. He was so taken by the food, the service, and the chitchat that Jimmy told the owner that he would make her famous. Not knowing her name he instead referred to her as "Mrs. Calabash".
Another theory was that it was his personal salute to his late first wife, Jeanne Olsen, whom he married on June 19, 1921. They stayed married until her death on Valentine's Day in 1943. "Calabash" may have been a typical Durante mangle of Calabasas, the southern California locale where the couple made their home for the last years of her life.
At a National Press Club meeting in 1966 (broadcast on NBC's Monitor program), Durante revealed that it was indeed a tribute to the first Mrs. Durante. One time while driving across the country, they stopped in a small town called Calabash, which Mrs. Durante loved. He recalled the town as being near Chicago. "Mrs. Calabash" became his private pet name for her, so years later he came to sign off his radio program with "Good night, Mrs. Calabash." He added "...wherever you are" after the first year.