In his youth, Jerry Colonna worked as a longshoreman by day to finance his music studies by night. He became a star trombonist in several major bands, fronting his own jazz aggregation for a time. Not willing to become just one more sideliner, Colonna decided to develop a wacky comic persona, growing a huge handlebar mustache for that purpose. He skyrocketed to popularity as a combination stooge/heckler for radio comedian Bob Hope, coining such catch phrases as "Who's Yehudi?" and "Ah, yes...exciting, isn't it?" On his own, Colonna recorded several best-selling records, offering ear-piercing renditions of such songs as "On the Road to Mandalay" (he could hold a high note longer--and to better effect--than any "serious" opera diva). After his film debut in 52nd Street (1937), Colonna played several hilarious supporting roles, and also starred in a few lively "B"-movies like Priorities on Parade (1944) and Kentucky Jamboree (1950); he was also seen in an ersatz version in dozens of Warner Bros. cartoons of the 1940s. During the 1950s and 1960s, Colonna continued making USO tours with Bob Hope (as he'd done during the war), headlined a nightclub act, and showed up with great frequency as a TV guest star on such series as The Monkees and McHale's Navy. After Colonna fell victim to a stroke in the late 1960s, his old boss Hope saw to it that Jerry and his family were well-provided for. In addition to his performing credits, Jerry Colonna also penned a novel, The Loves of Tullio (1970).