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August 01, 1986 - Image 92

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-08-01

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Entertainer Danny Kaye's World
Is Filled With Laughter And Music





Special to The Jewish News


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15 k 1\1


Friday, August 1, 1986


ollywood — Danny Kaye,
recently in Paris with
Chevalier de la Legion
d'Honneur, was presented with
the same decoration in a special
ceremony of the home OT Bernatd.
Miyet, consul general of France,
at a Beverly Hills reception
attended by this columnist. I had
watched Danny some 40 years
ago when, at the Samuel
Goldwyn Studios, he starred in
The Kid from Brooklyn, The
Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and
later as Hans Christian Ander-
Danny was honored for his
lifetime commitment to
humanitarian works as well as
for his artistry as an actor. The
French government has recog-
nized his 33 years as UNICEF's
ambassador-at-large during
which he toured the world to
bring a sense of hope and a mo-
ment of laughter to children.
Over a period of 23 years he has
raised close to $8 million for
musician's pension funds by con-
duaing symphonic orchestras,
though he never learned to read
Born Daniel Kaminsky in New
York City, January 18, 1913, the
son of an immigrant Russian-
Jewish tailor, he adapted his
name from the label Danny K,
his friends gave him in his youth.
He got his start in show business
by tummeling at summer resorts
in the Catskill mountains. He
was clowning about the premises
for the enjoyment of the guests at
all hours of the day and night. He
first came to the attention of the-
ater goers, in the Kurt Weill-
Moss Hart musical Lady in the
Dark, when he upstaged Ger-
trude Lawrence with his
"Tchaikovsky" rendition, rating
off the names of more than 50
Russian composers in 38 seconds.
Much of his earlier material
was written for him by Sylvia
Fine, daughter of a Brooklyn de-
ntist for whom Kaye had worked
briefly as an errand boy. Sylvia
married him in 1941 and contin-
ued to write his special material
for many years. From the show-
stopper in Lady in the Dark, Kaye
jumped into stardom on Broad-
way with Lets Face It, a musical
revue which was made into a film
with Bob Hope.
But his stage appearance had
been caught by the late Samuel
Goldwyn who brought him to
Hollywood in 1943 for his first
motion picture, Up in Arms, with
youthful Dinah Shore at his side.
He proved himself a completely
novel kind of song and dance
man, with an inventiveness Hol-
lywood had not seen since Eddie
Cantor. For Goldwyn, Kaye ap-
peared in a number of musicals,
later made films on a more seri-
cn's note, most notably Ve and
the Colonel.. and The Madwoman
of Chaillot for other production
He went into television in
1956, appearing on Edward R.
Murrow's See It Now, after he
had an even dozen starring films
behind him. Four years later, he

Danny Kaye: a lifetime of humanitarian work.

made his debut in TV entertain-
ment with three specials, An
Evening with Danny Kaye, one of
them co-starring Lucille Ball. In
the same period, he made his first
Las Vegas night club appearance,
toured the orient and performed
as guest conductor in Boston, De-
troit, Los Angeles and Washing-
ton and visited Russia at the be-
hest of the State Department.
The Danny Kaye Show, start-
ing on CBS-TV in September,
1963, had a four-year- run, bring-
ing him four Emmy awards for

Much of his material
was written by his
wife, Sylvia Fine.

himself and his collaborators. his
television performances since
have ranged from Pinocchio, to
guest appearances on The
Twilight Zone. They alio include'
an Emmy-winning Look at the
Met, from the stage of the Met-
ropolitan Opera House. But his
most significant dramatic per-
formance was the one in Skokie,
where he appeared as a grim sur
vivor from a Nazi concentration
In June 1967, during the Six-
Day War, he flew to Israel to visit
hospitalized Israeli soldiers. He
performed or conducted orches-
tras to let the Israelis know that
there were people out in the

world who cared for them. Visit-
ing children's day camps and
kibbutzim, he also spent time
with the military, political and
civilian segments of the popula-
tion, remaining friends with
them to this day.
On our visit to Israel earlier
still, in 1961, we heard that Kaye
had inaugurated the golf course
in Caesaria (the only one in the
country at that time). After the
Six-Day War, he toured three
continents, conducting the Israel
Youth Symphony. For his devo-
tion to the young democracy in
the Middle East, he received vir-
tually every honor awarded by
that nation, including in 1982 the
Lifetime Achievement Award
from the Ben-Gurion University.
He has seen as many
battlefields as most Americans in
uniform, over a period of some 33
years, entertaining troops in
World War II, the Korean War,
Vietnam, as well as the Middle
East. In 1984, he was the reci-
pient of the Kennedy Honors,
presented before the President at
a special awards performance in
Some years ago, he was Noah
in the biblical play, Two by Two,
in which he reiterated the dream
of a better society, a dream he
helped to facilitate in many ways.
The impoverished offspring of
immigrant parents, product of
the streets of New York, he be-
came ambassador of laughter to
an entire world and Pied Piper to
its children.
Copyright 1986, Jewish Telegraphic
Agency, Inc.

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