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Danny Kaye

From Academic Kids

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Kaye entertaining U.S. troops at Sasebo, Japan, 25 Oct 1945

Danny Kaye (January 18, 1913March 3, 1987) was an American actor, singer and comedian.

Born in Brooklyn as David Daniel Kaminski, red-haired Kaye became one of the world's best-known comedians. In 1941 he appeared in the Broadway show, Lady in the Dark and performed the famous number "Tchaikovsky," by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, in which he sang the names of a whole string of Russian composers at breakneck speed, seemingly without taking a breath.

Kaye made his film debut in a 1935 comedy short subject entitled Moon Over Manhattan., although his feature film debut was Up in Arms (1944). He starred in several movies with actress Virginia Mayo in the 1940's, and is well known for his roles in films such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), White Christmas (1954), Knock on Wood (1954), and The Court Jester (1956). Kaye starred in two pictures based on biographies, Hans Christian Andersen (1952) about the Danish story-teller, and The Five Pennies (1959) about jazz pioneer Red Nichols.

Kaye also worked in television. He hosted a variety hour on CBS, The Danny Kaye Show, from 1963 to 1967. He also guest-starred in episodes of The Cosby Show and of the 1980's remake of The Twilight Zone.

In many of his movies, as well as on stage, Danny Kaye proved to be an able actor, singer, dancer and comedian, often having his comedic talents showcased by special material written by his wife, Sylvia Fine. He showed quite a different and serious side as Ambassador for UNICEF, and in one of his few dramatic roles in the memorable TV-movie Skokie, in which he played a Holocaust survivor. Before he died in 1987, Kaye also demonstrated his ability to conduct an orchestra during a comical, but technically sound, series of concerts organised for UNICEF fundraising. Kaye received two Academy awards, an honorary award in 1955 and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1982.

Joan Plowright, widow of the actor Laurence Olivier, claimed that Olivier had a long homosexual relationship with Kaye while Olivier was still married to his second wife, Vivien Leigh. Kaye's widow Sylvia denied these rumors.

Danny Kaye died in 1987, and is interred in the Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

Filmography

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