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Danny Kaye Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (33) | Personal Quotes (4) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 18 January 1911Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 3 March 1987Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameDavid Daniel Kaminski
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Danny Kaye left school at the age of 13 to work in the so-called Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains. It was there he learned the basics of show biz. From there he went through a series of jobs in and out of the business. In 1939, he made his Broadway debut in "Straw Hat Revue," but it was the stage production of the musical "Lady in the Dark" in 1940 that brought him acclaim and notice from agents. Also in 1940, he married Sylvia Fine, who went on to manage his career. She helped create the routines and gags, and wrote most of the songs that he performed. Danny could sing and dance like many others, but his specialty was reciting those tongue-twisting songs and monologues.

Samuel Goldwyn had been trying to sign Kaye to a movie contract for two years before he eventually agreed. Goldwyn put him in a series of Technicolor musicals, starting with Up in Arms (1944). His debut was successful, and he continued to make hit movies such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) and The Inspector General (1949). In 1954, he appeared with Bing Crosby in White Christmas (1954), which was based on the Irving Berlin song of the same name. In 1955, he made what many consider his best comedy, The Court Jester (1955), with the brilliant Pellet with the Poison routine. Like all things, however, the lifespan of a comedian is limited and his movie career waned. In 1960, he began doing specials on television and this led to his own TV series, The Danny Kaye Show (1963), which ran from 1963 to 1967.

Some of his last roles were also his most memorable, such as an intense Holocaust survivor in Skokie (1981) and as a kind but goofy dentist in an episode of The Cosby Show (1984). He also worked tirelessly for UNICEF.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Spouse (1)

Sylvia Fine (3 January 1940 - 3 March 1987) (his death) (1 child)

Trade Mark (2)

Red hair
Able to tongue twist faster than anyone else

Trivia (33)

One of the original owners of the Seattle Mariners professional baseball team.
While appearing in the musical "Two By Two" (1970-1971), he tore ligaments and played the role of Noah in a wheelchair since he did not use understudies.
Interred at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York, USA.
Toured Australia in the mid-'50s as Cinderella's friend Buttons in a pantomime version of "Cinderella".
Died of hepatitis and internal bleeding, the result of a transfusion of contaminated blood during bypass heart surgery four years earlier.
Star of CBS Radio's "The Danny Kaye Show" (1945-1946).
Was the first choice of producers to star in the Broadway musical "The Music Man."
Was named as "King of Brooklyn" at the Welcome Back to Brooklyn Festival in 1986
According to daughter Dena Kaye, for the rest of his life, whenever someone would recognize him in public, they would run up to him and recite the "pellet with the poison . . . " speech from The Court Jester (1955).
In 1953, received a Special Tony Award for heading a variety bill at the Palace Theater.
He had a passion for Chinese cooking and built a kitchen in his house. For years, he invited people (some of them great celebrities like Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Cary Grant, John Denver, and Itzhak Perlman) and he would show them what his cooking genius was about. Qualified guests, like French chef Paul Bocuse, said they were really amazed by Kaye's cooking ability.
He was Bob Hope's and Humphrey Bogart's favorite comedian.
He was an excellent pilot.
His father, Jacob Kaminski; his mother, Clar; and his two older brothers, Mack and Larry, emigrated from Ukraine to the United States in 1910. Jacob had to work two years before he could pay off those steamer tickets. Three years after this journey, their third and last child was born, and the only one born in America: David Daniel, or as his parents called him: Duvidelleh.
Served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
Herbert Bonis was his manager for 35 years.
He was a very talented storyteller.
Biography in "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives," Volume Two, 1986-1990, pp. 472-475. New York: Scribner, 1999.
Originally considered for the leading role in "It Should Happen to You" (1954).
On April 21,1954, he was appointed UNICEF's Ambassador at Large, and made a 40,000 mile good-will trip, which resulted in the short, Assignment Children.
The stage musical "The Kid from Brooklyn," which chronicled Kaye's life, implied a tempestuous affair with his radio co-star Eve Arden.
While he was world famous for his comic acting ability, his last film appearance, Skokie (1981), in which he portrayed a Holocaust survivor protesting a planned march by Neo-Nazis, was one of only two dramatic film roles he played - the other was the role of the Ragpicker in the 1969 film The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969), starring Katharine Hepburn. Danny played in two other dramatic movies: The Colonel and Me and The Five Pennies.
He was a liberal Democrat who opposed the Hollywood blacklist.
He awarded 3 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6125 Hollywood Boulevard; for Motion Pictures at 6563 Hollywood Boulevard; and for Radio at 6101 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
Conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra at New York's Carnegie Hall (10th March 1958) with his feet! This being a benefit concert, of course.
Was considered by producer Hal B. Wallis for the lead role in Visit to a Small Planet (1960) at the same time with Alec Guinness and Jerry Lewis, the last one eventually getting the role.
In an article in Look magazine he related that once while flying over Kansas he correctly diagnosed a pain in his right side as appendicitis. He landed at the nearest airfield and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. He said he was told that a delay of even a half hour might have resulted in the appendix rupturing.
Shirley MacLaine claims she had romance with Danny Kaye in her 2011 memoir, "I'm Over That And Other Confessions.".
Kaye made his acting debut playing a watermelon sees in a school play at Brooklyn's P.S. 149.
In 1942 Kaye was hospitalized for nervous exhaustion.
His trademark red hair was his natural color, but he was persuaded to dye it blond because it looked better that way in Technicolor. Studio mogul Samuel Goldwyn Jr. also had asked Danny to get his nose fixed so it would look less Jewish, but he refused.
Kaye's daughter Dena has revealed that his birth certificate indicates that he was born in 1911, not 1913 as Kaye had publicly claimed, and that no one in the family knows why he made this alteration to his age.
Danny Kaye held a Commercial Pilot's Certificate with the following ratings: Airplane Single and Multiengine Land & Instrument Airplane. In addition, he held type ratings to act as Pilot-in-Command of two small business class jets: The LR-Jet (Learjet 20 & 30 series)and the IA-Jet.

Personal Quotes (4)

Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it.
You bet I arrived overnight. Over a few hundred nights in the Catskills, in vaudeville, in clubs and on Broadway. [on being an overnight film success in the 1940s]
If you're not cooking with joy, happiness and love, you're not cooking well.
I became an entertainer not because I wanted to but because I was meant to.

Salary (1)

Hans Christian Andersen (1952) $200,000

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