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Birth name Gerardo Luigi ColonnaNationality USABirth 17 september 1904
at Boston (USA
)Death 21 november 1986
(at 82 years) at Woodland Hills (USA
Gerardo Luigi "Jerry" Colonna (September 17, 1904 – November 21, 1986) was an American comedian, singer, songwriter, and trombonist best remembered as the zaniest of Bob Hope's sidekicks in Hope's popular radio shows and films of the 1940s and 1950s.
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.
Colonna played a range of nitwitted characters, the best-remembered of which was a moronic professor. Nachman wrote:
Colonna brought a whacked-out touch to Hope's show. In a typical exchange, Hope asks, "Professor, did you plant the bomb in the embassy like I told you?", to which Colonna replied, in that whooping five-alarm voice, "Embassy? Great Scott, I thought you said NBC!"
Colonna married Florence Purcell, 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 '60s/early '70s 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.
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.