Danny Kaye (born David Daniel Kaminsky; January 18, 1911 – March 3, 1987) was an American actor, singer, dancer, comedian, musician, and philanthropist. His performances featured physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and rapid-fire novelty songs.
Kaye starred in 17 movies, notably Wonder Man (1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (1946), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), Hans Christian Andersen (1952), White Christmas (1954), and The Court Jester (1956).
His films were popular, especially his performances of patter songs and favorites such as "Inchworm" and "The Ugly Duckling." He was the first ambassador-at-large of UNICEF in 1954 and received the French Legion of Honour in 1986 for his years of work with the organization.
David Daniel Kaminsky
January 18, 1911
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||March 3, 1987 (aged 76)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Sylvia Fine (m. 1940)
David Daniel Kaminsky was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 18, 1911 (though he would later say 1913), to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants Jacob and Clara (née Nemerovsky) Kaminsky. He was the youngest of three sons. Jacob and Clara and their older sons Larry and Mac left Dnipropetrovsk two years before Danny's birth; he was their only son born in the United States.
He attended Public School 149 in East New York, Brooklyn; the school eventually was renamed to honor him—where he began entertaining his classmates with songs and jokes. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn but he did not graduate.
His mother died when he was in his early teens. Not long after his mother's death, Kaye and his friend Louis ran away to Florida. Kaye sang while Louis played the guitar and the pair eked out a living for a while. When Kaye returned to New York, his father did not pressure him to return to school or work, giving his son the chance to mature and discover his own abilities. Kaye said that as a young boy he had wanted to be a surgeon, but the family could not afford a medical school education.
He held a succession of jobs after leaving school: as a soda jerk, insurance investigator, and office clerk. Most ended with his being fired. He lost the insurance job when he made an error that cost the insurance company $40,000. The dentist who hired him to look after his office at lunch hour did the same when he found Kaye using his drill on the office woodwork. Years later Kaye married the dentist's daughter, Sylvia. He learned his trade in his teenage years in the Catskills as a tummler in the Borscht Belt.
Kaye's first break came in 1933 when he joined the "Three Terpsichoreans," a vaudeville dance act. They opened in Utica, New York, where he used the name Danny Kaye for the first time. The act toured the United States, then performed in Asia with the show La Vie Paree.
The troupe left for a six-month tour of the Far East on February 8, 1934. While they were in Osaka, Japan, a typhoon hit the city. The hotel where Kaye and his colleagues stayed suffered heavy damage. The strong wind hurled a piece of the hotel's cornice into Kaye's room; had he been hit, he might well have been killed. By performance time that evening the city was in the grip of the storm. There was no power and the audience was restless and nervous. To calm them Kaye went on stage holding a flashlight to illuminate his face and sang every song he could recall as loudly as he was able.
The experience of trying to entertain audiences who did not speak English inspired him to the pantomime, gestures, songs, and facial expressions that eventually made his reputation. Sometimes he found pantomime necessary when ordering a meal. Kaye's daughter, Dena, tells a story her father related about being in a restaurant in China and trying to order chicken. Kaye flapped his arms and clucked, giving the waiter an imitation of a chicken. The waiter nodded in understanding, bringing Kaye two eggs. His interest in cooking began on the tour.
Jobs were in short supply when Kaye returned to the United States, and he struggled for bookings. One job was working in a burlesque revue with fan dancer Sally Rand. After the dancer dropped a fan while trying to chase away a fly, Kaye was hired to watch the fans so they were always held in front of her.
Danny Kaye made his film debut in a 1935 comedy short Moon Over Manhattan. In 1937 he signed with New York–based Educational Pictures for a series of two-reel comedies. He usually played a manic, dark-haired, fast-talking Russian in these low-budget shorts, opposite young hopefuls June Allyson and Imogene Coca. The Kaye series ended abruptly when the studio shut down in 1938. He was working in the Catskills in 1937 under the name Danny Kolbin.
His next venture was a short-lived Broadway show with Sylvia Fine as the pianist, lyricist, and composer. The Straw Hat Revue opened on September 29, 1939, and closed after 10 weeks, but critics took notice of Kaye's work. The reviews brought an offer for both Kaye and his bride Sylvia to work at La Martinique, a New York City nightclub. Kaye performed with Sylvia as his accompanist. At La Martinique playwright Moss Hart saw Danny perform, and that led to Hart's casting him in his hit Broadway comedy Lady in the Dark.
Kaye scored a triumph at age 30 in 1941 playing Russell Paxton in Lady in the Dark, starring Gertrude Lawrence. His show-stopping number was "Tchaikovsky" by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin in which he sang the names of a string of Russian composers at breakneck speed, seemingly without taking a breath. In the next Broadway season he was the star of a show about a young man who is drafted called Let's Face It!.
His feature-film debut was in producer Samuel Goldwyn's Technicolor 1944 comedy Up in Arms, a remake of Goldwyn's Eddie Cantor comedy Whoopee! (1930). Rival producer Robert M. Savini cashed in by compiling three of Kaye's Educational Pictures shorts into a patchwork feature entitled The Birth of a Star (1945). Studio mogul Goldwyn wanted Kaye's prominent nose fixed to look less Jewish, Kaye refused, but he did allow his red hair to be dyed blond, apparently because it looked better in Technicolor.
Kaye starred in a radio program, The Danny Kaye Show, on CBS in 1945–46. The program's popularity rose quickly. Before a year he tied with Jimmy Durante for fifth place in the Radio Daily popularity poll. Kaye was asked to participate in a USO tour following the end of World War II. It meant that he would be absent from his radio show for nearly two months at the beginning of the season. Kaye's friends filled in, with a different guest host each week. Kaye was the first American actor to visit postwar Tokyo. He had toured there some 10 years before with the vaudeville troupe. When Kaye asked to be released from his radio contract in mid-1946 he agreed not to accept a regular radio show for one year and only limited guest appearances on other radio programs. Many of the show's episodes survive today, notable for Kaye's opening "signature" patter ("Git gat gittle, giddle-di-ap, giddle-de-tommy, riddle de biddle de roop, da-reep, fa-san, skeedle de woo-da, fiddle de wada, reep!").
Kaye starred in several movies with actress Virginia Mayo in the 1940s and is known for films such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), On the Riviera (1951) co-starring Gene Tierney, Knock on Wood (1954), White Christmas (1954), The Court Jester (1956), and Merry Andrew (1958). Kaye starred in two pictures based on biographies, Hans Christian Andersen (1952) the Danish storyteller and The Five Pennies (1959) about jazz pioneer Red Nichols. His wife, writer/lyricist Sylvia Fine, wrote many tongue-twisting songs for which Kaye became famous. She was also an associate film producer. Some of Kaye's films included the theme of doubles, two people who look identical (both Danny Kaye) being mistaken for each other to comic effect.
While his wife wrote most of Kaye's material, he created much of it himself, often while performing. Kaye had one character he never shared with the public; Kaplan, the owner of an Akron, Ohio, rubber company, came to life only for family and friends. His wife, Sylvia, described the Kaplan character:
He doesn't have any first name. Even his wife calls him just Kaplan. He's an illiterate pompous character who advertises his philanthropies. Jack Benny or Dore Schary might say, "Kaplan, why do you hate unions so?" If Danny feels like doing Kaplan that night he might be off on Kaplan for two hours.
When he appeared at the London Palladium in 1948 he "roused the Royal family to laughter and was the first of many performers who have turned British variety into an American preserve." Life magazine described his reception as "worshipful hysteria" and noted that the royal family, for the first time, left the royal box to watch from the front row of the orchestra. He related that he had no idea of the familial connections when the Marquess of Milford Haven introduced himself after a show and said he would like his cousins to see Kaye perform. Kaye stated he never returned to the venue because there was no way to recreate the magic of that time. Kaye had an invitation to return to London for a Royal Variety Performance in November of the same year.
When the invitation arrived, Kaye was busy with The Inspector General (which had a working title of Happy Times). Warner Bros. stopped the film to allow their star to attend. When his Decca co-workers the Andrews Sisters began their engagement at the London Palladium on the heels of Kaye's successful 1948 appearance there, the trio was well received and David Lewin of the Daily Express declared: "The audience gave the Andrews Sisters the Danny Kaye roar!"
He hosted the 24th Academy Awards in 1952. The program was broadcast on radio. Telecasts of the Oscar ceremony came later. During the 1950s Kaye visited Australia, where he played "Buttons" in a production of Cinderella in Sydney. In 1953 Kaye started a production company, Dena Pictures, named for his daughter. Knock on Wood was the first film produced by his firm. The firm expanded into television in 1960 under the name Belmont Television.
Kaye entered television in 1956, on the CBS show See It Now with Edward R. Murrow. The Secret Life of Danny Kaye combined his 50,000-mile, ten-country tour as UNICEF ambassador with music and humor. His first solo effort was in 1960 with an hour special produced by Sylvia and sponsored by General Motors; with similar specials in 1961 and 1962.
Beginning in 1964 he acted as television host to the CBS telecasts of MGM's The Wizard of Oz. Kaye did a stint as a What's My Line? mystery guest on the Sunday night CBS-TV quiz program. Kaye was later a guest panelist on that show. He also appeared on the interview program Here's Hollywood. In the 1970s Kaye tore a ligament in his leg during the run of the Richard Rodgers musical Two by Two but went on with the show, appearing with his leg in a cast and cavorting on stage in a wheelchair. He had done much the same on his television show in 1964 when his right leg and foot were burned from a cooking accident. Camera shots were planned so television viewers did not see Kaye in his wheelchair.
In 1976 he played Mister Geppetto in a television musical adaptation of Pinocchio with Sandy Duncan in the title role. Kaye portrayed Captain Hook opposite Mia Farrow in a musical version of Peter Pan featuring songs by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. He later guest-starred in episodes of The Muppet Show, The Cosby Show, and in the 1980s revival of New Twilight Zone.
In many films, as well as on stage, Kaye proved to be an able actor, singer, dancer, and comedian. He showed his serious side as ambassador for UNICEF and in his dramatic role in the memorable TV film Skokie, when he played a Holocaust survivor. Before his death in 1987, Kaye conducted an orchestra during a comical series of concerts organized for UNICEF fundraising. Kaye received two Academy Awards: an Academy Honorary Award in 1955 and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1982. That year he received the Screen Actors Guild Annual Award.
In 1980 Kaye hosted and sang in the 25th Anniversary of Disneyland celebration and hosted the opening celebration for Epcot in 1982 (EPCOT Center at the time). Both were aired on prime-time television in the U.S.
Kaye was enamored of music. While he claimed an inability to read music, he was said to have perfect pitch. A flamboyant performer with his own distinctive style, "easily adapting from outrageous novelty songs to tender ballads" (according to critic Jason Ankeny), in 1945 Kaye began hosting his own CBS radio program, launching a number of hit songs including "Dinah" and "Minnie the Moocher."
In 1947 Kaye teamed with the popular Andrews Sisters (Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne) on Decca Records, producing the number-three Billboard hit "Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)." The success of the pairing prompted both acts to record through 1950, producing rhythmically comical fare as "The Woody Woodpecker Song" (based on the bird from the Walter Lantz cartoons and a Billboard hit for the quartet), "Put 'em in a Box, Tie 'em with a Ribbon (And Throw 'em in the Deep Blue Sea)," "The Big Brass Band from Brazil," "It's a Quiet Town (In Crossbone County)," "Amelia Cordelia McHugh (Mc Who?)," "Ching-a-ra-sa-sa," and a duet by Danny and Patty Andrews of "Orange Colored Sky." The acts teamed for two yuletide favorites: a frantic, harmonic rendition of "A Merry Christmas at Grandmother's House (Over the River and Through the Woods)" and a duet by Danny and Patty, "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth."
Kaye's debut album, Columbia Presents Danny Kaye, had been released in 1942 by Columbia Records with songs performed to the accompaniment of Maurice Abravanel and Johnny Green. The album was reissued as a Columbia LP in 1949 and is described by the critic Bruce Eder as "a bit tamer than some of the stuff that Kaye hit with later in the '40s and in the '50s and, for reasons best understood by the public, doesn't attract nearly the interest of his kids' records and overt comedy routines."
1950 saw the release of a Decca single, "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," his sole big U.S. chart hit. His second Columbia LP album Danny Kaye Entertains (1953, Columbia), included six songs recorded in 1941 from his Broadway musical Lady in the Dark; most notably "Tchaikovsky."
Following the success of the film Hans Christian Andersen (1952), two of its songs written by Frank Loesser and sung by Kaye, "The Ugly Duckling" and "Wonderful Copenhagen," reached the Top Five on the UK pop charts. In 1953 Decca released Danny at the Palace, a live recording made at the New York Palace Theater, followed by Knock On Wood (Decca, 1954) a set of songs from the movie of the same name sung by Kaye, accompanied by Victor Young and His Singing Strings.
In 1956 Kaye signed a three-year recording contract with Capitol Records, which released his single "Love Me Do" in December of that year. The B-side, "Ciu Ciu Bella", with lyrics written by Sylvia Fine, was inspired by an episode in Rome when Kaye, on a mission for UNICEF, befriended a 7-year-old polio victim in a children's hospital, who sang this song for him in Italian.
In 1958 Saul Chaplin and Johnny Mercer wrote songs for Merry Andrew, a film starring Kaye as a British teacher attracted to the circus. The score added up to six numbers, all sung by Kaye; conductor Billy May's 1950 composition "Bozo's Circus Band" (renamed "Music of the Big Top Circus Band") was deposited on the second side of the Merry Andrew soundtrack, released in 1958. A year later another soundtrack came out, The Five Pennies (Kaye starred there as 1920s cornet player Loring Red Nichols), featuring Louis Armstrong.
In the 1960s and 1970s Kaye regularly conducted world-famous orchestras, although he had to learn the scores by ear. Kaye's style, even if accompanied by unpredictable antics (he once traded the baton for a fly swatter to conduct "The Flight of the Bumblebee") was praised by the likes of Zubin Mehta who once stated that Kaye "has a very efficient conducting style." His ability with an orchestra was mentioned by Dimitri Mitropoulos, then conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. After Kaye's appearance Mitropoulos remarked, "Here is a man who is not musically trained, who cannot even read music and he gets more out of my orchestra than I have." Kaye was invited to conduct symphonies as charity fundraisers and was the conductor of the all-city marching band at the season opener of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1984. Over his career he raised over US$5 million in support of musician pension funds.
Kaye was sufficiently popular to inspire imitations:
In his later years, Kaye entertained at home as chef. He specialized in Chinese and Italian cooking. He had a custom-made Chinese restaurant installed at the rear of his house by its alley, then had a kitchen and dining area built around it. The stove that Kaye used for his Chinese dishes was fitted with metal rings for the burners to allow the heat to be highly concentrated, and a trough with circulating ice water cooled the area to keep the intense heat tolerable for those who were cooking. He learned "at Johnny Kan's restaurant in San Francisco and with Cecilia Chang at her Mandarin restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles." He taught Chinese cooking classes at a San Francisco Chinese restaurant in the 1970s. The theater and demonstration kitchen under the library at the Hyde Park, New York campus of the Culinary Institute of America is named for him.
Kaye referred to his kitchen as "Ying's Thing." While filming The Madwoman of Chaillot in France, he phoned home to ask his family if they would like to eat at Ying's Thing that evening; Kaye flew home for dinner. Not all of his efforts in the kitchen went well. After flying to San Francisco for a recipe for sourdough bread, he came home and spent hours preparing loaves. When his daughter asked about the bread, Kaye hit the bread on the kitchen table; his bread was hard enough to chip it. Kaye approached kitchen work with enthusiasm, making sausages and other foods needed for his cuisine. His work as a chef earned him the "Les Meilleurs Ouvriers de France" culinary award. Kaye is the only nonprofessional chef to have received this honor.
Kaye was an aviation enthusiast and pilot. He became interested in getting a pilot's license in 1959. An enthusiastic and accomplished golfer, he gave up golf in favor of flying. The first plane Kaye owned was a Piper Aztec. Kaye received his first license as a private pilot of multi-engine aircraft, not being certified for operating a single-engine plane until six years later. He was an accomplished pilot, rated for airplanes ranging from single-engine light aircraft to multi-engine jets. Kaye held a commercial pilot's license and had flown every type of aircraft except military planes.
Kaye received a type rating in a Learjet, and he was named vice president of the Learjet company by Bill Lear as an honorary title (he had no line responsibility at the company). He supported many flying projects. In 1968 he was honorary chairman of the Las Vegas International Exposition of Flight, a show that utilized many facets of the city's entertainment industry while presenting an air show. The operational show chairman was well-known aviation figure Lynn Garrison. Kaye flew a Learjet to 65 cities in five days on a mission to help UNICEF.
In 1958 Kaye and partner Lester Smith formed Kaye–Smith Enterprises. The company owned a chain of radio stations, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. Other Kaye–Smith divisions included a concert promotion company, a video production company, and a recording studio. Kaye sold his share of the company to the Smith family in 1985.
A lifelong fan of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, Kaye recorded a song called "The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song (Oh really? No, O'Malley!)," describing a fictitious encounter with the San Francisco Giants, a hit during the real-life pennant chase of 1962. That song is included on Baseball's Greatest Hits compact discs. A good friend of Leo Durocher, he often traveled with the team. He also possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the game.
Kaye and his business partner Lester Smith also led an investment group which was awarded the American League's thirteenth franchise, which became the Seattle Mariners for US$6.2 million on February 7, 1976. The ownership percentages of Kaye, Smith and two other remaining original investors were reduced to 5 percent each when George Argyros purchased 80 percent of the Mariners for $10.4 million on January 30, 1981. Kaye sold all of his business interests to Smith's family in 1985.
Working alongside UNICEF's Halloween fundraiser founder, Ward Simon Kimball Jr., the actor educated the public on impoverished children in deplorable living conditions overseas and assisted in the distribution of donated goods and funds. His involvement with UNICEF came about in an unusual way. Kaye was flying home from London in 1949 when one of the plane's four engines lost its propeller and caught fire. The problem was initially thought serious enough that it might make an ocean landing; life jackets and liferafts were made ready.
The plane was able to head back over 500 miles to land at Shannon Airport, Ireland. On the way back to Shannon, the head of the Children's Fund, Maurice Pate, had the seat next to Danny Kaye and spoke at length about the need for recognition for the fund. Their discussion continued on the flight from Shannon to New York; it was the beginning of the actor's long association with UNICEF.
"For all of his success as a performer . . . his greatest legacy remains his tireless humanitarian work—so close were his ties to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) that when the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize, Kaye was tapped to accept it," according to music critic Jason Ankeny.
Kaye died of heart failure on March 3, 1987, aged 76, brought on by internal bleeding and complications of hepatitis C. Kaye had quadruple bypass heart surgery in February 1983; he contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion.
His ashes are interred in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. His grave is adorned with a bench that contains friezes of a baseball and bat, an aircraft, a piano, a flower pot, musical notes, and a chef's toque. His name and birth and death dates are inscribed on the toque. The United Nations held a memorial tribute to him at their New York headquarters on the evening of October 21, 1987.
The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in New York was opened in 1988, with a $1 million gift from Sylvia Kaye.
Sylvia discovered that Danny had worked for her father Samuel Fine, a dentist. Kaye, working in Florida, proposed on the telephone; the couple were married in Fort Lauderdale on January 3, 1940.
The couple's only child, daughter Dena, was born on December 17, 1946. When she was very young, Dena did not like seeing her father perform because she did not understand that people were supposed to laugh at what he did. Kaye said in a 1954 interview, "Whatever she wants to be she will be without interference from her mother nor from me." Dena grew up to become a journalist.
On 18 January 2013, during a 24-hour salute to Kaye on Turner Classic Movies in celebration of what TCM thought was his 100th birthday, Kaye's daughter, Dena, revealed to TCM host Ben Mankiewicz that Kaye's stated birth year of 1913 was incorrect, and that he was actually born in 1911.
|Dime a Dance||1937||Eddie||Al Christie||Imogene Coca, June Allyson||Black and white|
|Getting an Eyeful||1938||Russian||Al Christie||Charles Kemper, Sally Starr||Black and white|
|Cupid Takes a Holiday||1938||Nikolai Nikolaevich (bride-seeker)||William Watson||Douglas Leavitt, Estelle Jayne||Black and white|
|Money on Your Life"||1938||Russian||William Watson||Charles Kemper, Sally Starr||Black and white|
|Up in Arms||1944||Danny Weems||Elliott Nugent||Dinah Shore, Dana Andrews||Technicolor|
|I Am an American||1944||Himself||Crane Wilbur||Humphrey Bogart, Gary Gray, Dick Haymes, Joan Leslie, Dennis Morgan, Knute Rockne, Jay Silverheels||Black and white|
|Wonder Man||1945||Edwin Dingle/Buzzy Bellew||H. Bruce Humberstone||Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen, Steve Cochran||Technicolor|
|The Kid from Brooklyn||1946||Burleigh Hubert Sullivan||Norman Z. McLeod||Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen, Steve Cochran, Eve Arden||Technicolor|
|The Secret Life of Walter Mitty||1947||Walter Mitty||Norman Z. McLeod||Virginia Mayo, Boris Karloff, Fay Bainter, Ann Rutherford||Technicolor|
|A Song Is Born||1948||Professor Hobart Frisbee||Howard Hawks||Virginia Mayo, Benny Goodman, Hugh Herbert, Steve Cochran||Technicolor|
|It's a Great Feeling||1949||Himself||David Butler||Dennis Morgan, Doris Day, Jack Carson||Technicolor|
|The Inspector General||1949||Georgi||Henry Koster||Walter Slezak, Barbara Bates, Elsa Lanchester, Gene Lockhart||Technicolor|
|On the Riviera||1951||Jack Martin/Henri Duran||Walter Lang||Gene Tierney, Corinne Calvet||Technicolor|
|Hans Christian Andersen||1952||Hans Christian Andersen||Charles Vidor||Farley Granger, Zizi Jeanmaire||Technicolor|
|Knock on Wood||1954||Jerry Morgan/Papa Morgan||Norman Panama
|Mai Zetterling, Torin Thatcher||Technicolor|
|White Christmas||1954||Phil Davis||Michael Curtiz||Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger||VistaVision|
|The Court Jester||1956||Hubert Hawkins||Norman Panama
|Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury||VistaVision|
|Merry Andrew||1958||Andrew Larabee||Michael Kidd||Salvatore Baccaloni, Pier Angeli||CinemaScope|
|Me and the Colonel||1958||Samuel L. Jacobowsky||Peter Glenville||Curt Jürgens, Nicole Maurey, Françoise Rosay, Akim Tamiroff||Black and white|
|The Five Pennies||1959||Red Nichols||Melville Shavelson||Barbara Bel Geddes, Louis Armstrong, Tuesday Weld||VistaVision|
|On the Double||1961||Private First Class Ernie Williams/General Sir Lawrence MacKenzie-Smith||Melville Shavelson||Dana Wynter, Margaret Rutherford, Diana Dors||Panavision|
|The Man from the Diners' Club||1963||Ernest Klenk||Frank Tashlin||Cara Williams, Martha Hyer||Black and white|
|The Madwoman of Chaillot||1969||The Ragpicker||Bryan Forbes||Katharine Hepburn, Charles Boyer||Technicolor|
Danny Kaye, by the way, never owned a Learjet, though he did receive a type rating ... his friend Bill Lear made him a vice president this was strictly an honorary and symbolic title
The 18th Emmy Awards, later known as the 18th Primetime Emmy Awards, were handed out in May 22, 1966, at the Hollywood Palladium. The ceremony was hosted by Danny Kaye and Bill Cosby. Winners are listed in bold and series' networks are in parentheses.
The top show of the night was The Dick Van Dyke Show, which won its fourth consecutive top series award, and tied the record (since broken) of five major wins. The ceremony returned to a more traditional format, after experimenting the previous year.A Song Is Born
A Song Is Born (also known as That's Life) is a 1948 Technicolor musical film remake of the 1941 movie Ball of Fire with Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. It was directed by Howard Hawks. Based on the Story "From A to Z" by Billy Wilder and Thomas Monroe. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn and released by RKO Radio Pictures.
Filmed in Technicolor, it featured a stellar supporting cast of musical legends, including Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman (with Al Hendrickson as cameo), Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, and Benny Carter. Other notable musicians playing themselves in the cast include Charlie Barnet (with Harry Babasin as cameo), Mel Powell, Louis Bellson, The Golden Gate Quartet, Russo and the Samba Kings, The Page Cavanaugh Trio, and Buck and Bubbles. Other actors include Steve Cochran and Hugh Herbert.Hunter College
Hunter College is one of the constituent colleges of the City University of New York, an American public university. It is located in the Lenox Hill neighborhood of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The college offers studies in more than one hundred undergraduate and postgraduate fields across five schools. It also administers Hunter College High School and Hunter College Elementary School.Hunter was founded in 1870 as a women's college; it first admitted male freshmen in 1946. The main campus has been located on Park Avenue since 1873. In 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated Franklin Delano Roosevelt's and her former townhouse to the college; the building was reopened in 2010 as the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.The college is the only one in the nation whose roster of alumni includes two female Nobel laureates in medicine.Inchworm (song)
"Inchworm", also known as "The Inch Worm", is a song originally performed by Danny Kaye in the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. It was written by Frank Loesser.
The song has become a popular children's song and is best known for its arithmetical chorus:
Two and two are four
Four and four are eight
Eight and eight are sixteen
Sixteen and sixteen are thirty-twoTowards the end of the song, the verses are sung in counterpoint with this chorus. Loesser loved the intellectual challenge of such contrapuntal composition which he also did in other works such as Tallahassee.The composer received a letter of appreciation, signed pseudonymously, "Your respectfully, a Kansas inchworm",
He was so touched by this that he placed a large advertisement in the largest newspaper in Lawrence, Kansas — the Daily Journal World — in thanks. His correspondent wrote again, revealing herself to be teacher Emily Preyer.In the film, a children's chorus sings the "arithmetic" section over and over inside a small classroom, dolefully and by rote, while Andersen, listening just outside, gazes at an inchworm crawling on the flowers and sings the main section of the song.
It has been recorded by many singers, including Paul McCartney, Rachelle Ferrell, The Brothers Creeggan, Anne Murray, Kenny Loggins, We Five, John Lithgow, Mary Hopkin, Doris Day, Dan Zanes, Kurt Wagner and Patricia Barber, and has been performed in skits on Jim Henson's Sesame Street and The Muppet Show; the song was done once by Charles Aznavour in a regular sketch, and once again with Danny Kaye and the Muppets when he was on the show. In the Quantum Leap episode Another Mother, Al (Dean Stockwell) sang it as a lullaby. It was used in a 1995 episode of the UK television programme BBC Horizons, entitled "Nanotopia", during a segment explaining the "assemblers" of Eric Drexler. Performed instrumentally, it was a regular feature of the John Coltrane Quartet's repertoire and appears on the album Coltrane. The song also briefly featured in the popular British schools drama Grange Hill, being sung by the school choir during rehearsals. It was featured at the end of a fourth season episode of the show Northern Exposure. There was also a Hebrew version of the song, sung by children and a male singer. In 2010, twice Ivor Novello Awards-nominated band The Leisure Society performed the song for the American Laundromat Records kindie compilation, "Sing Me to Sleep - Indie Lullabies." A recording of Danny Kaye singing it was used as the underscoring for a shadow puppet segment on Captain Kangaroo.
The song is also sung as a children's lullaby during episode 17 of the first season on the popular TV sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond".List of Billboard 200 number-one albums of 1953
These are the Billboard magazine number-one albums of 1953, per the Billboard 200.On the Riviera
On the Riviera is a 1951 musical comedy film made by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Walter Lang, produced by Sol C. Siegel from a screenplay by Valentine Davies and Phoebe and Henry Ephron, based on the play The Red Cat by Rudolph Lothar and Hans Adler. This version stars Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney and Corinne Calvet with Marcel Dalio, Henri Letondal and Sig Ruman, and with uncredited featured dancer Gwen Verdon in dance sequences choreographed and staged by Jack Cole.
Having extensive production value, this is a "backstage" musical, where all songs occur as stage performances and many of the characters are stage performers. The film served as a vehicle for multi-talented Broadway veteran Danny Kaye.
This was the third film version of the same story. The original was entitled Folies Bergère (1935) and starred Maurice Chevalier, Merle Oberon and Ann Sothern. The remake in 1941 was That Night in Rio and starred Don Ameche, Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda.
It was nominated for two Academy Awards; for Best Music and Best Art Direction (Lyle R. Wheeler, Leland Fuller, Joseph C. Wright, Thomas Little, and Walter M. Scott).Pinocchio (1976 TV program)
Pinocchio is a 1976 made-for-TV musical starring Sandy Duncan in the title role and Danny Kaye as Geppetto. It was first broadcast March 27, 1976 on CBS and rerun on April 18, 1977.Selections from Irving Berlin's White Christmas
Selections from Irving Berlin's White Christmas is an album with songs from the 1954 movie, White Christmas. Among the featured artists are Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Trudy Stevens (who dubbed for Vera-Ellen in the movie), with Peggy Lee, who was not in the movie, singing some parts. It is one of the last 78 rpm albums Decca produced.South Pacific (Decca album)
South Pacific is a compilation album of phonograph records by Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Ella Fitzgerald and Evelyn Knight released in 1949 featuring songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific. The album was placed 8th in Billboard's chart of best-selling popular record albums in July 1949.Sylvia Fine
Sylvia Fine (August 29, 1913 – October 28, 1991) was an American lyricist, composer, and producer, and the wife of the comedian Danny Kaye. She and her future husband grew up within blocks of each other in Brooklyn, but they did not meet until 1939.The Court Jester
The Court Jester is a 1956 musical-comedy film starring Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury and Cecil Parker. The movie was co-written, co-directed, and co-produced by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama. The film was released by Paramount Pictures in Technicolor and in the VistaVision widescreen format.
Danny Kaye received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor – Comedy/Musical.
Made for a cost of $4 million in the fall of 1955, it was the most expensive comedy film produced at the time. The motion picture bombed at the box-office on its release, bringing in only $2.2 million in receipts the following winter and spring of 1956. Since then, it has become a television matinee favorite. The film contains the famous exchanges: "Get it?" "Got it." "Good!" and "The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!" (mainly between Kaye and Mildred Natwick as Griselda).
In 2004, The Court Jester was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."The Danny Kaye Show
The Danny Kaye Show is an American variety show, hosted by the stage and screen star Danny Kaye, which aired on Wednesday nights from September 25, 1963, to June 7, 1967, on the CBS television network. Directed by Robert Scheerer, it premiered in black-and-white switching to color broadcasts in the fall of 1965. At the time, Kaye was at the height of his popularity. He starred in a string of successful 1940s and '50's musical comedy features, made numerous personal appearances at venues such as the London Palladium and his rare selective visits to the small screen were considered major events. With his recent motion pictures considered disappointments, three triumphant early 60s television specials led the way to this series. Prior to his film and television career, Kaye had made a name for himself with his own radio show, also titled The Danny Kaye Show. He made numerous guest appearances on other comedy and variety radio shows and headlined in several major Broadway musical revues throughout the 1940s.The Inspector General (film)
The Inspector General is a 1949 Technicolor musical comedy film. It stars Danny Kaye and was directed by Henry Koster. The film also stars Walter Slezak, Gene Lockhart, Barbara Bates, Elsa Lanchester, Alan Hale Sr. and Rhys Williams. Original music by Sylvia Fine and Johnny Green.The Kid from Brooklyn
The Kid from Brooklyn is a 1946 American musical comedy film directed by Norman Z. McLeod and starring Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen, Steve Cochran, Walter Abel, Eve Arden, and Fay Bainter. Virginia Mayo's and Vera-Ellen's singing voices were dubbed by Betty Russell and Dorothy Ellers, respectively,
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn, it is a remake of the Harold Lloyd film The Milky Way (1936) about a milkman who becomes world boxing champion. Lionel Stander plays the role of "Spider" Schultz in both versions of the movie.The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947 film)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a 1947 Technicolor comedy film, loosely based on the short story of the same name by James Thurber. The film stars Danny Kaye as a young daydreaming proof reader (later associate editor) for a magazine publishing firm and Virginia Mayo as the girl of his dreams. The film was adapted for the screen by Ken Englund, Everett Freeman, and Philip Rapp, and directed by Norman Z. McLeod.Up in Arms
Up in Arms is a 1944 film directed by Elliott Nugent and starring Danny Kaye and Dinah Shore. It was nominated for two Academy Awards in 1945.Walter Mitty
Walter Mitty is a fictional character in James Thurber's short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", first published in The New Yorker on March 18, 1939, and in book form in My World and Welcome to It in 1942. Thurber loosely based the character, a daydreamer, on his friend Walter Mithoff. It was made into a film in 1947 starring Danny Kaye, with a remake directed by and starring Ben Stiller released in 2013.White Christmas (film)
White Christmas is a 1954 American musical film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. Filmed in VistaVision and Technicolor, it features the songs of Irving Berlin, including a new version of the title song, "White Christmas", introduced by Crosby in the film Holiday Inn.Produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures, the film is notable for being the first to be released in VistaVision, a widescreen process developed by Paramount that entailed using twice the surface area of standard 35mm film; this large-area negative was used to yield finer-grained standard-sized 35mm prints.Wonder Man (film)
Wonder Man is a 1945 musical film starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. It is based on a short story by Arthur Sheekman, adapted for the screen by a staff of writers led by Jack Jevne and Eddie Moran, produced by Samuel Goldwyn, and directed by H. Bruce Humberstone. Mary Grant designed the film's costumes.