Danny Kaye (1913 - 1987)

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Danny Kaye Biography & Family History

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Danny Kaye
Born January 18, 1911 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Died March 3, 1987 in Los Angeles, California, USA (heart failure)
Birth Name David Daniel Kaminski
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)
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
Spouse (1)
Sylvia Fine (3 January 1940 - 3 March 1987) ( his death) ( 1 child)
Red hair
Able to tongue twist faster than anyone else
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, NY.
Died of hepatitis and internal bleeding, the result of a transfusion of contaminated blood during bypass heart surgery four years earlier.
Was the first choice of producers to star in the Broadway musical "The Music Man", but the role eventually went to Robert Preston.
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 celebrities like Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Cary Grant, John Denver and Itzhak Perlman) and would show them what his cooking genius was about. Qualified guests like French chef Paul Bocuse said they were amazed by his cooking ability.
He was Bob Hope's and Humphrey Bogart's favorite comedian.
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.
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: Me and the Colonel (1958) and The Five Pennies.
He was a liberal Democrat who opposed the Hollywood blacklist.
He awarded three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6125 Hollywood Blvd.; for Motion Pictures at 6563 Hollywood BLvd.; and for Radio at 6101 Hollywood Blvd.
Conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra at New York's Carnegie Hall for a benefit concert on March 10, 1958--with his feet.
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 a fling with him, in her 2011 memoir "I'm Over That And Other Confessions.".
Made his acting debut playing a watermelon seed in a school play at Brooklyn's P.S. 149.
In 1942 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 him to get his nose fixed so it would look less Jewish, but he refused.
His 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.
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.
Producer Samuel Goldwyn's wife Francis Howard would often travel to New York City scouting Broadway productions, looking for talent in both the production's acting areas and the creative teams involved. On her 1941 trip to see the Kurt Weill-Ira Gershwin-Moss Hart musical "Lady in The Dark" --she discovered Kaye. Returning to Hollywood, she insisted that her husband put Kaye under contract. After he arrived in Hollywood, several screen tests were made to determine the best possible path for his future at Samuel Goldwyn Productions. The major problem with his physical look, besides his nose, was his natural dark-brown hair. Francis, upon seeing his screen tests, told her husband, "Change his hair color" and to "turn Danny into a red headed strawberry blond!" Goldwyn's studio press agent always insisted Kaye's strawberry-blond hair was his natural hair color for, publicity purposes.
Mentioned in "Hail, Caesar!" (2016).
In an interview with Kaye's daughter Dena, she recalled that whenever her father was approached by a fan, he or she would invariably ask for Kaye to recite the dialogue of the famously difficult tongue twister "The Vessel With The Pestle" from the movie The Court Jester (1955). Kaye never refused and recited it verbatim.
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.

Danny Kaye was also known as David Daniel Kaminsky.

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Danny Kaye was born on in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York United States

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Danny Kaye died on in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States

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1913 - In the year that Danny Kaye was born, Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire automobile. It had previously taken 12 hours to assemble a whole vehicle - now it took only two hours and 30 minutes! Inspired by the production lines at flour mills, breweries, canneries and industrial bakeries, along with the disassembly of animal carcasses in Chicago’s meat-packing plants, Ford created moving belts for parts and the assembly line was born.

1919 - Danny was merely 6 years old when in June, the Treaty of Versailles - officially ending World War I - was signed. The European Allies demanded "compensation by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies and their property by the aggression of Germany by land, by sea and from the air.” The requirement of compensation is seen by most as the reason for the collapse of the German economy and gave rise to the rule of Hitler.

1935 - At the age of 22 years old, Danny was alive when on September 8th, Louisiana Senator Huey Long was shot by Dr. Carl Weiss. Weiss was shot and killed immediately by Long's bodyguards - Long died two days later from his injuries. Long had received many death threats previously, as well as threats against his family. He was a powerful and controversial figure in Louisiana politics (and probably gained power through multiple criminal acts). His opponents became frustrated with their attempts to oust him and Dr. Weiss was the son-in-law of one of those opponents. His funeral was attended by 200,000 mourners.

1951 - Danny was 38 years old when on April 5th, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (husband and wife) were sentenced to death for treason. They were executed on June 19th. American citizens, they were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union. Their two young sons were adopted by a high school teacher and his wife.

1987 - In the year of Danny Kaye's passing, was the first time that a criminal in the United States - a serial rapist - was convicted through the use of DNA evidence.

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Danny Kaye passed away on March 3, 1987 in Los Angeles, California at 74 years old. There is no known cause of death. He was born on January 18, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York. We have no information about Danny's family or relationships.
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