Happy 100th, Danny!

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I haven’t been around here in a while, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to wish success to TCM’s Danny Kaye 100th Birthday celebration all day this coming Sunday — tomorrow.  As I showed in several posts in the past, I’ve been a Danny Kaye connoisseur nearly all my life, since the days I used to skip junior high to watch his movies on TV during the day (this is pre-VCR and DVR, although I used to record the soundtracks on reel-to-reel tape!).  I bought my first copies of those “Movies on TV” books because of Danny, too, because I wanted to go through and find all his movies.  Little did I know then that he only made 17, but we are fortunate that TCM will be bringing us a good selection of those on Sunday, plus some rare TV goodies.

Dena KayeFirst off, we need to thank Danny’s daughter Dena for spearheading this wonderful 100th Anniversary celebration — Danny Kaye Centennial 2013!  Take a look at the great TCM interview she did promoting Sunday’s event by clicking here, and be sure also to read the TCM close-ups on these movies; I’ll link to them.

As an intense fan of Danny’s, I can tell you what I think of the line-up — it’s pretty great!  Starting at 6am (I’m referring to Eastern time here), a rare look at some of Danny’s TV variety work with “The Danny Kaye Show” which is actually the 2nd of three specials he did for CBS before he started his regular weekly show in the fall of 1963.  (This additional info is thanks to David Koenig, whose new book Danny Kaye: King of Jesters is a must-buy for all of us Kaye fans.  More info on other great Danny Kaye fan developments later in this post!).  According to David, this special is a real treat and it’s something I’ve longed to see.  Definitely an extremely rare TV treat so be sure to tune in or DVR!

At 7am: 1944′s Up In Arms, Danny’s first full-length motion picture after being spirited to Hollywood by Samuel Goldwyn.  Danny had really hit the Broadway big-time with his roles in “Lady in the Dark” and “Let’s Face It”, and Goldwyn saw Danny as another Eddie Cantor, Goldwyn’s previous comic money-maker from the 1930s.  Up in Arms gives you the chance to see Danny’s famous star-making number “Melody in 4-F,” co-written by his wife Syvia Fine, the talented songwriter who was responsible for many of Danny’s unique patter songs.  He also does his movie parody “The Lobby Number” and get the chance to do a zooty song-and-dance number with likable co-star Dinah Shore (who coincidentally was an Eddie Cantor protege) later on in the film.  Up in Arms is a good showcase for the nascent screen personality of Danny, and he’s still a bit wild and untamed, which is a good thing.  The slightly bland but absolutely gorgeous Constance Dowling (who later married “Flipper” producer Ivan Tors) also co-stars, along with an earnest Dana Andrews and other solid comic actors like Walter Catlett, Benny Baker and Lyle Talbot.  This is a recommended choice!  I do wonder what woulc have happened if Danny had signed early on with a more traditional studio like MGM or Paramount…certainly his career would have been different.  Probably he would have been introduced in smaller doses first and then onto starring roles, but not so with Goldwyn — it was full speed ahead for his new Goldwyn boy!

dena and dannyAt 8:45am: 1958′s MGM musical comedy Merry Andrew, with Danny as a bookish British schoolteacher/amateur archeologist who finds love and self-acceptance when he becomes involved with the spirited denizens of a traveling circus.  Top reasons to watch:  Beautiful MGM production values, robust direction and choreography by Michael Kidd, an appearance by great MGM dancer Tommy Rall as one of the Italian brothers, the over-the-(big) top performance of actor/opera singer Salvatore Baccaloni, the lovely Pier Angeli as Danny’s romantic match, a fun chimp, and so much more.  Merry Andrew is a very enjoyable movie, with nice tunes by Saul Chaplin and a refreshing brio, in addition to some nice scenery and the circus millieu.  It’s charming.

At 10:30am:  the 1971 Dick Cavett interview with Danny.  This is a real rarity. Although the TCM listing says this is from May 28, 1971, other sources say it’s from November 24, 1971.  Either way, it’s Danny all the way.  I don’t remember this though I surely watched it, and this is either from when he was in the midst of his Broadway run as Noah in “Two by Two” or had just finished it.  The musical was controversial due to Danny’s “makeover” of the show, when his ad libs and onstage shenanigans (abetted by his broken leg which necessitated him being in a wheelchair then a cast) turned the show into something very different than the creators intended.  By this time Danny’s public image was a prickly one – part honored UNICEF spokesman, part beloved entertainer, and part curmudgeon with a reputation for being not as warm and fuzzy as his image.  Surprised?!  Guess what?  He was a human being, so talented and complicated.  I can’t wait to watch this one!

At 12 noon:   1946′s The Kid from Brooklyn, the Kaye remake of the Harold Lloyd milkman-turned-pugilist movie The Milky Way.  Chief Delights:  Vera-Ellen and Virginia Mayo, Eve Arden (who also starred in Danny’s radio show and had a very warm friendship with Danny at the time), Walter Abel (hilarious!), Lionel Stander.  A very solid comedy, not brilliant exactly but lively and extremely entertaining.  Definitely worth watching!

At 2pm:  1949′s The Inspector General.  I love this movie.  Because it fell into public domain, it’s all over the place in crummy transfers, but you know this TCM version will have to look good.  This is a very lush, very Warner Bros. comedy, with some effective backlot footage and Danny looking wonderful throughout.  Fellow Morlock RHS had a very nice post about The Inspector General a while back; be sure to read his appreciation here.  I like everything about this movie.  Danny is backed by a cast full of talented comics, and it’s completely authentic to the time period and also functions simply as a rousing adventure.  There’s a sweet romance with the lovely Barbara Bates, lots of physical comedy, and Danny’s sincere performance as the hapless Giorgi. Highly recommended!colonel card

At 4pm:  A very big change-of-pace film for Danny, 1958′s gentle comedy Me and the Colonel.  Danny plays a displaced Jewish gentleman named Mr. Jacobowsky who teams up with a hostile military officer (played by Curt Jurgens) as he attempts to flee to safety during WW II.  Completely European in tone, setting and pacing, and not a patter song in sight.  You know how comedians are always supposed to want to play Hamlet?  Well, this is one of the times when Danny went serious, and he did a very credible job.  There’s a great score by George Duning, too, and the lovely French actress Nicole Maurey is along to flirt a little with both Jacobowsky and the Colonel.  Recommended for dignified performances and for the serious side of Danny Kaye, but it’s completely atypical Kaye fare.

At 6pm:  1947′s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  One of my favorite Kaye films, despite not getting the thumbs-up from Thurber himself at the time of its release.  Danny isn’t henpecked here, he’s mother-smothered instead, but it works.  Virginia Mayo is the lovely mystery woman who leads him headlong into the biggest adventure Mitty never dreamed.  Good supporting performances from Fay Bainter as Mrs. Mitty, Thurston Hall as Walter’s boss, Boris Karloff, Ann Rutherford, Florence Bates, and also a great bouncy NYC vibe and perfect score from David Raksin.  Sylvia Fine’s “The Little Fiddle” and “Anatole of Paris” are Danny classics.  The dream sequences are beautiful, and now you know there were supposedly a couple of others filmed, including Boris Karloff reprising his Frankenstein character and another with Danny as an Irish informer on the run from authorities.  There’s a nice appreciation of the movie here from Dorian TV at h c a posterher blog.  This is a big beautiful production, plenty crazy enough to satisfy modern sensibilities.  A must-watch!

At 8pm:  1952′s Hans Christian Andersen.  This is indeed a big, gaudy fairy tale of a movie, chockful of songs, cute little kids, good tunes (by Frank “Guys and Dolls” Loesser), and — now don’t get scared off — lots of ballet.  LOTS of it, thankfully danced by the saucy French ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire who eez very Fraunch, as some might say.  Just when the movie threatens to overwhelm, something genuine comes along like “Thumbelina” or “The Ugly Duckling” (quite a nice sequence) and it’s terrific.  There’s also a weird and more-than-a-little twisted psychosexual vibe running not much below the surface in Hans Christian Andersen, a rivalry (for the ballerina) between the asexual Hans and the fiery balletmaster played by Farley Granger, culminating in a ballet face-off sequence that is riveting and utterly nuts.  The movie is not typical Danny Kaye, but it’s very entertaining, full of good music, good songs and it has that filmed-entirely-on-a-soundstage lack of verisimilitude that seems perfect for this lush facsimile of the life of Hans Christian Andersen.  Definitely watch this!

At 10pm:  1956′s The Court Jester.  Probably Danny’s best, most perfectly executed and most fun movie, and it deserves the love it gets.  The opening song “Life Could Not Better Be” perfectly sums up the delights to come.  The cast is top-notch:  Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury, Cecil Parker, Mildred Natwick, Basil Rathbone, Robert Middleton, and so many other familiar faces.  The Court Jester is pure delight, beautiful to look at, wonderful to listen to, alternatively hilarious, romantic and thrilling.  Danny, unlike some other screen comedians, is truly as believable as a hero when the time comes for him to step up to bravery, as he is as a bumbling coward.  Highlights for me:  All the songs, Kaye as an old man trying to flummox royal soldier Herbert Rudley, Kaye explaining about the Duke and the Doge to Cecil Parker, Breckenridge’s Curse as explained by Glynis Johns, Natwick putting Danny under hypnosis and then Danny going to Lansbury and wooing her…what the heck, all of The Court Jester!  Need I even mention the greatness of “the vessel with the pestle”…? Even if you’ve seen this before, I guarantee you will feel better after watching it again!

At 12 midnight:  A Song is Born, from 1948.  I have to admit I don’t like this one very much.  Certainly my least favorite of the Goldwyn movies, but it’s a goldmine if you love classic jazz performers as the movie is loaded with them.  Virginia Mayo looks gorgeous, at least, though this remake of Ball of Fire – a female fireball messin’ it up with a fusty academics — hasn’t the life of the original nor even the verve of a successful Danny vehicle of that time.  I haven’t watched it in a while so maybe it’s gotten more entertaining with age, and I do get where it fits into his film continuum, but don’t say I recommended it.  Did somebody forget that Danny was a singer?  How did they not give him any songs in this?  Too drab overall.

At 2am:  1945′s Wonder Man.  This is more like it.  Danny’s second film for Goldwyn, this is a double-identity tale of a bookish twin and his snazzy brother who comes back from the grave to solve his own murder.  Dancer Vera-Ellen made her screen debut in this, and Virginia Mayo had her first full-on co-starring role opposite Danny here. There’s a great appearance from the legendary be-jowled Cuddles Sakall here, and fun musical sequences abound.  Wonder Man isn’t exactly a classic in the sense of being one-of-a-kind good, but it’s cute and funny and overall very entertaining.  This one I do recommend!

At 4am:  1961′s The Man from the Diner’s Club.  Hmmm…this is more like a weak Jerry Lewis comedy than a good Danny Kaye comedy.  No songs, looks maybe like a TV show with its stark B&W photography.  Kind of forgettable, but you’ve got to watch it at least once so you can forget it, right?  Oh, I will say that it’s nice to see Cara Williams in this movie; those of you classic TV fans will remember her as Harry Morgan’s wacky wife in Pete and Gladys.

In addition to Dena Kaye’s Danny Kaye Centennial site mentioned above, there are some other terrific web resources which have sprung to life about Danny.  One of my favorites is DannyKaye.Net, The Definitive Danny Kaye Website, a beautiful and comprehensive site, fan-created, and be sure to connect up at Facebook with it to keep abreast of frequent updates, too.   Steve Kimball’s Danny Kaye Tribute and Fan Website, www. dannykaye.org, is another wonderfully put-together and fascinating site — completely awesome!  Both of these sites have deep content and have been compiled with lots of love, and it shows.  There are links within them to other Kaye information on the web, too.   There’s also MyDannyKaye.com which also has lots of nice content.   Once again I must mention author David Koenig (you may already be familiar with him if you are a Disney fan — he’s written several highly-regarded tomes on the subject!) and his brand new Danny Kaye: King of Jesters book.  It’s a wonderful resource for longtime fans or for new converts who want to learn about this brilliant entertainer.

Coming Soon — I’m going to a Part 2 later today, a selection of Danny Kaye photos from my collection, because Danny’s worth it!

54 Responses Happy 100th, Danny!
Posted By Richard Lee Guinn : January 19, 2013 1:09 pm

I remember seeing The Court Jester a few years ago and the movie (as well as Danny Kaye) was a delight to watch. Happy 100th birthday!

Posted By Richard Lee Guinn : January 19, 2013 1:09 pm

I remember seeing The Court Jester a few years ago and the movie (as well as Danny Kaye) was a delight to watch. Happy 100th birthday!

Posted By bill : January 19, 2013 1:15 pm

Valid point about Kaye of all comedians being most believable as a hero. Must be why he so often played doubles, one confident, one nerdy. In Court Jester both characters were combined in one role.

Posted By bill : January 19, 2013 1:15 pm

Valid point about Kaye of all comedians being most believable as a hero. Must be why he so often played doubles, one confident, one nerdy. In Court Jester both characters were combined in one role.

Posted By B Piper : January 19, 2013 1:51 pm

In his autobiography Basil Rathbone speaks very highly of Kaye in THE COURT JESTER, especially the fencing scenes where Kaye, who learned to fence for the movie, was almost a match for Rathbone who had fenced all his life.

I’m more a fan of Kaye’s TV shows than his movies, especially the Goldwyn vehicles, but I do like JESTER and MERRY ANDREW. And as a kid I nearly wore out my 45 of “I’ve got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”.

Posted By B Piper : January 19, 2013 1:51 pm

In his autobiography Basil Rathbone speaks very highly of Kaye in THE COURT JESTER, especially the fencing scenes where Kaye, who learned to fence for the movie, was almost a match for Rathbone who had fenced all his life.

I’m more a fan of Kaye’s TV shows than his movies, especially the Goldwyn vehicles, but I do like JESTER and MERRY ANDREW. And as a kid I nearly wore out my 45 of “I’ve got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts”.

Posted By medusamorlock : January 19, 2013 2:50 pm

Bill, you are so right about the believability! He had a sincere quality that many other screen comedians’ personalities lacked or at least they didn’t highlight it. Bob Hope is usually sort of a con man/coward, Red Skelton more pure clown, and so on. Great point about Danny’s double roles…he made them all utterly real.

And B Piper, let’s hope that this centennial year brings more of his TV material to light again! Be sure to watch the TV special on at 6am tomorrow morning! That’s my sincere hope! At least there are some good compilation CDs of his song recordings…at least there used to be and they must still be out there.

Here’s to Danny!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 19, 2013 2:50 pm

Bill, you are so right about the believability! He had a sincere quality that many other screen comedians’ personalities lacked or at least they didn’t highlight it. Bob Hope is usually sort of a con man/coward, Red Skelton more pure clown, and so on. Great point about Danny’s double roles…he made them all utterly real.

And B Piper, let’s hope that this centennial year brings more of his TV material to light again! Be sure to watch the TV special on at 6am tomorrow morning! That’s my sincere hope! At least there are some good compilation CDs of his song recordings…at least there used to be and they must still be out there.

Here’s to Danny!

Posted By bill : January 19, 2013 3:04 pm

What Rathbone didn’t admit was that he had to be doubled in JESTER.

Posted By bill : January 19, 2013 3:04 pm

What Rathbone didn’t admit was that he had to be doubled in JESTER.

Posted By Doug : January 19, 2013 6:38 pm

There aren’t many stars who instantly bring a smile to my lips when I see mention of them-Danny Kaye was a wonderful comic artist
who has always been a favorite. That picture of Dena-she inherited his smile.
It takes nothing away from Danny to point out that his wife Sylvia blessed him with great songs; even the greatest artist needs great material, and her songs, especially in “The Court Jester” help Danny to shine. What a team!

Posted By Doug : January 19, 2013 6:38 pm

There aren’t many stars who instantly bring a smile to my lips when I see mention of them-Danny Kaye was a wonderful comic artist
who has always been a favorite. That picture of Dena-she inherited his smile.
It takes nothing away from Danny to point out that his wife Sylvia blessed him with great songs; even the greatest artist needs great material, and her songs, especially in “The Court Jester” help Danny to shine. What a team!

Posted By B Piper : January 19, 2013 9:01 pm

I was intrigued enough to do some research on who doubled whom in THE COURT JESTER. What I found out was that either Rathbone was doubled or Kaye was or neither of them, so that settles that. I did find a very interesting book on the subject of cinematic swashbuckling:

By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers …
By Richard Cohen

Posted By B Piper : January 19, 2013 9:01 pm

I was intrigued enough to do some research on who doubled whom in THE COURT JESTER. What I found out was that either Rathbone was doubled or Kaye was or neither of them, so that settles that. I did find a very interesting book on the subject of cinematic swashbuckling:

By the Sword: A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers …
By Richard Cohen

Posted By bill : January 19, 2013 10:45 pm

The quote about Rathbone being doubled was from Kaye himself. You can see “back of the head shots” for Basil in the duel. Don’t remember any comprable ones for Kaye.

Posted By bill : January 19, 2013 10:45 pm

The quote about Rathbone being doubled was from Kaye himself. You can see “back of the head shots” for Basil in the duel. Don’t remember any comprable ones for Kaye.

Posted By medusamorlock : January 19, 2013 11:17 pm

I always thought that Ralph Faulker might have done some of Basil’s fencing if needed, as he was their instructor, but not positive. If I can find out I’ll update here!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 19, 2013 11:17 pm

I always thought that Ralph Faulker might have done some of Basil’s fencing if needed, as he was their instructor, but not positive. If I can find out I’ll update here!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 19, 2013 11:19 pm

There is some Faulkner info here: http://fencersquarterly.com/RF/RF.htm and it seems to say that he might have done some of Basil’s fencing..

Posted By medusamorlock : January 19, 2013 11:19 pm

There is some Faulkner info here: http://fencersquarterly.com/RF/RF.htm and it seems to say that he might have done some of Basil’s fencing..

Posted By Steve Kimball : January 20, 2013 12:14 am

To say I’m a fan of Danny Kaye barely scratches the surface of my near-obsession with Mr. Kaye. I followed his career from an early age, trying to re-create some of the fast-lip sequences that he could perform. . . I’m not sure if “tongue twisters” describes well enough the verbal gymnastics that Danny could deliver.

Beyond the smiles he gave us all on the silver screen was a a real Renaissance man of the 20th Century. If it was a skill he desired, he mastered it from golf and baseball to cooking and flying.

I still have an orange, folded UNICEF box from the late 1960s in which I gathered change on Hallowe’en like every other child in the neighborhood and on the side is the smiling face of Danny Kaye, champion of impoverished children worldwide.

I have a few pages of clippings about his death in 1987 and they still bring a tear to my eye, 25 ydars later. The world still needs him but sadly there will never be another Danny Kaye.

Posted By Steve Kimball : January 20, 2013 12:14 am

To say I’m a fan of Danny Kaye barely scratches the surface of my near-obsession with Mr. Kaye. I followed his career from an early age, trying to re-create some of the fast-lip sequences that he could perform. . . I’m not sure if “tongue twisters” describes well enough the verbal gymnastics that Danny could deliver.

Beyond the smiles he gave us all on the silver screen was a a real Renaissance man of the 20th Century. If it was a skill he desired, he mastered it from golf and baseball to cooking and flying.

I still have an orange, folded UNICEF box from the late 1960s in which I gathered change on Hallowe’en like every other child in the neighborhood and on the side is the smiling face of Danny Kaye, champion of impoverished children worldwide.

I have a few pages of clippings about his death in 1987 and they still bring a tear to my eye, 25 ydars later. The world still needs him but sadly there will never be another Danny Kaye.

Posted By medusamorlock : January 20, 2013 10:25 am

As it turned out, it was an episode of “The Danny Kaye Show” that ran at 6am, with Gene Kelly and Michelle Lee, from October 23, 1963. Absolutely delightful and beautiful condition! More of these, please!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 20, 2013 10:25 am

As it turned out, it was an episode of “The Danny Kaye Show” that ran at 6am, with Gene Kelly and Michelle Lee, from October 23, 1963. Absolutely delightful and beautiful condition! More of these, please!

Posted By bill : January 20, 2013 10:51 am

There’s one episode where he’s doing a tougue-twisting routine and he screws up. At least twice, and they leave it in the tape. For the rest of the show he’s manic, adlibbing and popping up where’s not supposed to. Must have been what he was like on stage.

Posted By bill : January 20, 2013 10:51 am

There’s one episode where he’s doing a tougue-twisting routine and he screws up. At least twice, and they leave it in the tape. For the rest of the show he’s manic, adlibbing and popping up where’s not supposed to. Must have been what he was like on stage.

Posted By John Greco : January 20, 2013 11:02 am

Terrific article. Koneig’s book is a terrific detailed look at Kaye’s career. And thanks for the link! It was a pleasure interviewing Dennis.

Posted By John Greco : January 20, 2013 11:02 am

Terrific article. Koneig’s book is a terrific detailed look at Kaye’s career. And thanks for the link! It was a pleasure interviewing Dennis.

Posted By medusamorlock : January 20, 2013 12:10 pm

Steve, you are such an awesome Danny fan and your website it amazing! Highly recommended for all Kaye fans! And of course “The Court Jester” *is* the most delightful of all his movies, I think.

I worked at a TV station in Hollywood from ’77 until ’88, and it did give me the chance to meet Danny a couple of times. Everybody knew I loved him and those occasions are memories I’ll never forget. I have some unedited recordings of the very long interview he did that I need to get transferred one of these days.

I’m so glad that Danny is finally getting his due and here’s to much more!!

Thanks to all for the great comments!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 20, 2013 12:10 pm

Steve, you are such an awesome Danny fan and your website it amazing! Highly recommended for all Kaye fans! And of course “The Court Jester” *is* the most delightful of all his movies, I think.

I worked at a TV station in Hollywood from ’77 until ’88, and it did give me the chance to meet Danny a couple of times. Everybody knew I loved him and those occasions are memories I’ll never forget. I have some unedited recordings of the very long interview he did that I need to get transferred one of these days.

I’m so glad that Danny is finally getting his due and here’s to much more!!

Thanks to all for the great comments!

Posted By missrhea : January 21, 2013 10:03 am

Oddly enough, my favorite Danny Kaye vehicle is not a film at all. It is a VHS tape of a benefit done for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. I’ve lost track of it (really hoping it didn’t get thrown away the year we had smoke damage(but no actual fire) to our house) but I hope to find it and try to convert it to DVD because it was so enjoyable to watch over and over. I also enjoy the episode of The Cosby Show where Danny played the elderly dentist.

I remember that my mom (who passed away in 2010) really enjoyed his TV show but I wasn’t allowed to stay up that late to watch it myself.

Posted By missrhea : January 21, 2013 10:03 am

Oddly enough, my favorite Danny Kaye vehicle is not a film at all. It is a VHS tape of a benefit done for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. I’ve lost track of it (really hoping it didn’t get thrown away the year we had smoke damage(but no actual fire) to our house) but I hope to find it and try to convert it to DVD because it was so enjoyable to watch over and over. I also enjoy the episode of The Cosby Show where Danny played the elderly dentist.

I remember that my mom (who passed away in 2010) really enjoyed his TV show but I wasn’t allowed to stay up that late to watch it myself.

Posted By swac44 : January 21, 2013 12:27 pm

Danny Kaye was the first movie star I ever met, when he conducted my youth orchestra at a UNICEF benefit at the CN Nova Scotia Hotel in the early ’80s in Halifax. We were told he wasn’t going to interact with us or talk to us, we rehearsed a medley of his songs (I think it was a Hans Christian Andersen suite) and he would show up, address the crowd, do his bit, conduct the musicians and that would be it. But instead he made sure he shook all of our hands and thanked us for our efforts, and definitely made a lasting impression on me.

I was 13 or 14 at the time, and I’d seen Hans Christian Andersen in school (projected in 16mm) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (on TV), and I think I had a children’s record by him as well from an early age, so I was more awestruck than my fellow teen musicians, most of whom didn’t seem to really care one way or the other. Years later, a friend of mine informed me that his brother in Toronto was an actor who did a Danny Kaye tribute act that was so good, he was invited to England to perform at a celebration of the London Palladium, where Danny had wowed audiences back in the 1940s. Wish I could have seen that, I’m sure it would have been amazing.

For those who don’t know, a DVD came out late last year including two of Danny Kaye’s Christmas Specials, one in B&W and the other in colour. The highlight for me is a charming duet on an “international” version of Jingle Bells with Nat King Cole, it’s every bit as good as you might think.

Thanks to TCM for running the Danny Kaye marathon, unfortunately I missed out on my chance to finally see Up in Arms, but I can’t wait to crank up the DVR and check out The Man From the Diner’s Club, and Wonder Man even if it is a lesser title in his resume. As luck would have it, our cable company is offering the HD channels for free this month, so I’m sure the Technicolor titles will benefit from the extra boost.

Now if only we could get more DK on blu-ray…

Posted By swac44 : January 21, 2013 12:27 pm

Danny Kaye was the first movie star I ever met, when he conducted my youth orchestra at a UNICEF benefit at the CN Nova Scotia Hotel in the early ’80s in Halifax. We were told he wasn’t going to interact with us or talk to us, we rehearsed a medley of his songs (I think it was a Hans Christian Andersen suite) and he would show up, address the crowd, do his bit, conduct the musicians and that would be it. But instead he made sure he shook all of our hands and thanked us for our efforts, and definitely made a lasting impression on me.

I was 13 or 14 at the time, and I’d seen Hans Christian Andersen in school (projected in 16mm) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (on TV), and I think I had a children’s record by him as well from an early age, so I was more awestruck than my fellow teen musicians, most of whom didn’t seem to really care one way or the other. Years later, a friend of mine informed me that his brother in Toronto was an actor who did a Danny Kaye tribute act that was so good, he was invited to England to perform at a celebration of the London Palladium, where Danny had wowed audiences back in the 1940s. Wish I could have seen that, I’m sure it would have been amazing.

For those who don’t know, a DVD came out late last year including two of Danny Kaye’s Christmas Specials, one in B&W and the other in colour. The highlight for me is a charming duet on an “international” version of Jingle Bells with Nat King Cole, it’s every bit as good as you might think.

Thanks to TCM for running the Danny Kaye marathon, unfortunately I missed out on my chance to finally see Up in Arms, but I can’t wait to crank up the DVR and check out The Man From the Diner’s Club, and Wonder Man even if it is a lesser title in his resume. As luck would have it, our cable company is offering the HD channels for free this month, so I’m sure the Technicolor titles will benefit from the extra boost.

Now if only we could get more DK on blu-ray…

Posted By swac44 : January 21, 2013 12:30 pm

Oops, meant to say that The Man from the Diner’s Club was a lesser title, as described above, not Wonder Man, which I added as an afterthought.

Posted By swac44 : January 21, 2013 12:30 pm

Oops, meant to say that The Man from the Diner’s Club was a lesser title, as described above, not Wonder Man, which I added as an afterthought.

Posted By Cristig : January 21, 2013 1:12 pm

What a treat!!! I enjoyed spending my day watchig this talented man who mae me laugh more than I had in a very long time! Enjoyed the conversations with his daughter and the bits of inside information shared. Its a shame thay dont make movies like this anymore, its what the world needs more of!

Posted By Cristig : January 21, 2013 1:12 pm

What a treat!!! I enjoyed spending my day watchig this talented man who mae me laugh more than I had in a very long time! Enjoyed the conversations with his daughter and the bits of inside information shared. Its a shame thay dont make movies like this anymore, its what the world needs more of!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 21, 2013 1:55 pm

Hey, missrhea, that Danny Kaye New York Philharmonic concert (which was a PBS special from 1981) is actually on YouTube at the moment at least. Doesn’t seem to be out on DVD yet and tapes are extra-rare, so let’s hope you find it but at least at the moment it’s on YouTube.. Maybe the revival of interest will get some more of these treats re-released.

Hey, swac, good story about Danny in Halifax! Nice that he was so personable to you — with kids he always seemed to be at his best (not always with adults, it would have appeared, but then, performers have great expectations put upon them in public…).
I haven’t purchased the Christmas DVD yet, but am looking forward to getting it and filling in my DVD library of Kaye material. Let’s hope that more of his TV shows might be available because they are a treasure trove of terrific comedy and variety on a level certainly unequalled today or even back then.

Yes, more Blu-Ray, more DVD, more TV — all of it!

“The Court Jester” was particularly luminous last night, and all the color titles were beautiful!

Quite a treat but I do wish we had been able to hear more from Dena Kaye on TCM, as she only co-hosted a few of the afternoon movies and none in primetime when her input would have been much appreciated. I expect we will be seeing more of her throughout this year of celebration, if not on TCM then elsewhere. She has a really great TV presence and is such a smart lady — takes after her mom and her dad there!

Thanks again for the comments!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 21, 2013 1:55 pm

Hey, missrhea, that Danny Kaye New York Philharmonic concert (which was a PBS special from 1981) is actually on YouTube at the moment at least. Doesn’t seem to be out on DVD yet and tapes are extra-rare, so let’s hope you find it but at least at the moment it’s on YouTube.. Maybe the revival of interest will get some more of these treats re-released.

Hey, swac, good story about Danny in Halifax! Nice that he was so personable to you — with kids he always seemed to be at his best (not always with adults, it would have appeared, but then, performers have great expectations put upon them in public…).
I haven’t purchased the Christmas DVD yet, but am looking forward to getting it and filling in my DVD library of Kaye material. Let’s hope that more of his TV shows might be available because they are a treasure trove of terrific comedy and variety on a level certainly unequalled today or even back then.

Yes, more Blu-Ray, more DVD, more TV — all of it!

“The Court Jester” was particularly luminous last night, and all the color titles were beautiful!

Quite a treat but I do wish we had been able to hear more from Dena Kaye on TCM, as she only co-hosted a few of the afternoon movies and none in primetime when her input would have been much appreciated. I expect we will be seeing more of her throughout this year of celebration, if not on TCM then elsewhere. She has a really great TV presence and is such a smart lady — takes after her mom and her dad there!

Thanks again for the comments!

Posted By Qalice : January 24, 2013 5:50 pm

What a pleasure to read about Danny Kaye from people who love him! I was exposed to his work as a child (which I think is the best way) and I’ve loved him all my life. He made a lot of very tricky things look easy. I got to meet him, too, in his capacity as UNICEF ambassador, so I can vouch for him being a gentleman.

Posted By Qalice : January 24, 2013 5:50 pm

What a pleasure to read about Danny Kaye from people who love him! I was exposed to his work as a child (which I think is the best way) and I’ve loved him all my life. He made a lot of very tricky things look easy. I got to meet him, too, in his capacity as UNICEF ambassador, so I can vouch for him being a gentleman.

Posted By missrhea : January 24, 2013 11:02 pm

Thanks, medusamorlock, for the pointer to YouTube. Went over there and looked at it again. My husband has been in bed sick for a couple of days so we watched it together and we laughed and laughed.

Posted By missrhea : January 24, 2013 11:02 pm

Thanks, medusamorlock, for the pointer to YouTube. Went over there and looked at it again. My husband has been in bed sick for a couple of days so we watched it together and we laughed and laughed.

Posted By robbushblog : January 29, 2013 11:13 am

My roommate, who will rarely watch any of my old movies (If it was made prior to 1980 it might as well not exist for her), sat in rapt attention during the “vessel with the pestle” scene from The Court Jester. She even had me rewind it. Therein lies the magic of Danny Kaye.

Posted By robbushblog : January 29, 2013 11:13 am

My roommate, who will rarely watch any of my old movies (If it was made prior to 1980 it might as well not exist for her), sat in rapt attention during the “vessel with the pestle” scene from The Court Jester. She even had me rewind it. Therein lies the magic of Danny Kaye.

Posted By swac44 : January 29, 2013 1:05 pm

It’s a four-parter on Danny Kaye over at Dick Dinman’s DVD Classics Corner podcast:

http://www.wmpg.org/archivefiles/dvdclassics.htm

There’s also a sort-of part four where Dick interviews George Feltenstein about Warner Home Video’s plans for the Goldwyn titles now in their possession.

Posted By swac44 : January 29, 2013 1:05 pm

It’s a four-parter on Danny Kaye over at Dick Dinman’s DVD Classics Corner podcast:

http://www.wmpg.org/archivefiles/dvdclassics.htm

There’s also a sort-of part four where Dick interviews George Feltenstein about Warner Home Video’s plans for the Goldwyn titles now in their possession.

Posted By medusamorlock : January 29, 2013 1:33 pm

Thanks to everybody for their continuing comments!

Swac, thanks very much for the link to the interviews!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 29, 2013 1:33 pm

Thanks to everybody for their continuing comments!

Swac, thanks very much for the link to the interviews!

Posted By swac44 : January 29, 2013 2:55 pm

I should have mentioned that those Dick Dinman podcasts feature a lengthy, in-depth interview with Dina, for those who couldn’t get enough of her in the film intros on TCM last week. I don’t know when I’ll get time to listen to them myself, hopefully in the next few days.

Posted By swac44 : January 29, 2013 2:55 pm

I should have mentioned that those Dick Dinman podcasts feature a lengthy, in-depth interview with Dina, for those who couldn’t get enough of her in the film intros on TCM last week. I don’t know when I’ll get time to listen to them myself, hopefully in the next few days.

Posted By medusamorlock : January 29, 2013 5:01 pm

Swac, I got waylaid listening to an interview with Kim Novak and one about “The Belle of New York” — haven’t even gotten to the Kaye ones yet! Dick Dinman is wonderful! These are treasures!

Posted By medusamorlock : January 29, 2013 5:01 pm

Swac, I got waylaid listening to an interview with Kim Novak and one about “The Belle of New York” — haven’t even gotten to the Kaye ones yet! Dick Dinman is wonderful! These are treasures!

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