Biography of Danny Kaye

Biography of Danny Kaye (1913-1987), famous movie clown

Danny Kaye (born David Daniel Kaminsky; January 18, 1913 – March 3, 1987) was a celebrated American actor, singer, dancer, and comedian. His best known performances featured physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and rapid-fire nonsense songs.

Danny Kaye, 1949

Kaye starred in 17 movies, notably The Kid from Brooklyn(1946), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), Hans Christian Andersen (1952), and — perhaps his most accomplished performance — The Court Jester (1956). His films were extremely popular, especially his bravura performances of patter songs and children’s favorites such as The Inch Worm and The Ugly Duckling. He was the first ambassador-at-large of UNICEF and received the French Legion of Honor in 1986 for his many years of work with the organization. Read More…


Me and the Colonel

Me and the Colonel (1958) starring Danny Kaye, Curt Jurgens, Nicole Maurey

Me and the Colonel, starring Danny KayeMe and the Colonel is a very different Danny Kaye comedy.  It’s very funny, very entertaining, and highly recommended – but it’s also not what you normally expect from a Danny Kaye movie.  There’s no singing or dancing, and the setting is much more serious—the invasion of Paris, France by Nazi Germany during World War II. Read More…


Secret Life of Walter Mitty photo gallery

A photo gallery of Danny Kaye’s classic film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, co-starring Virginia Mayo, Boris Karloff, Ann Rutherford

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Skokie – a Danny Kaye movie made for TV

Skokie (1981) starring Danny Kaye, Brian Dennehy, Eli Wallach

Skokie, starring Danny Kaye,  Brian Dennehy, Eli WallachBuy from Amazon.com

Skokie is many things.  It is Danny Kaye’s final film.  It is Danny Kaye’s only strictly dramatic role.  It is a balanced view at two sides of an issue.  It looks at the survivors of the Nazi holocaust.  It provides wonderful acting by some truly great actors, including Danny Kaye, Eli Wallach, Brian Dennehy, and Carl Reiner, It is an absolute classic, that everyone should watch. Read More…

Pinocchio, starring Danny Kaye and Sandy Duncan

A feature-length musical motion picture of the classic tale about the puppet who becomes a real boy. Danny Kaye plays “Gepetto,” the wood carver; and Sandy Duncan plays “Pinocchio,” the irrepressible puppet.

Editorial review of Pinocchio, starring Danny Kaye and Sandy Duncan, courtesy of Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com Pinocchio, starring Danny Kaye and Sandy Duncan

This musical adaptation of Pinocchio from 1976 features the incomparable talents of Danny Kaye, Sandy Duncan, Flip Wilson, and Clive Revill. Framed by the story of a young theater girl’s desire to study and work apart from her father, the story of Pinocchio is presented as a subplay with the young girl as Pinocchio (Sandy Duncan) and her father as Geppetto (Danny Kaye). The famous Carlo Collodi story of a lonely woodcutter whose marionette comes to life is presented faithfully and engagingly. The costumes are bright and fun, and the sets are suitably simple. The music, which features many Billy Barnes songs, showcases everything from big Broadway sounds to some truly beautiful ballads. Add to that lots of energetic dancing choreographed by Ron Field, and the result is a compelling performance by Kaye, Duncan, and the rest of the cast. –Tami Horiuchi

 

The Five Pennies

Editorial review of The Five Pennies (1959) starring Danny Kaye, Barbara Bel Geddes, Louis Armstrong, courtesy of Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com The Five Pennies, starring Danny Kaye

Danny Kaye shows off his keen musical sense in the lead role of The Five Pennies, the life story of cornet master Red Nichols–or at least the Hollywood version of Nichols’ life. The movie gets off to a kicky start as Nichols joins a big-city band, meets his future wife (Barbara Bel Geddes), and sits in on a speakeasy session with Louis Armstrong. Armstrong’s in the movie a lot, and there are smaller roles for other musical names such as Bob Crosby and Ray Anthony. The tunes include a batch of standards but also new songs written by Sylvia Fine, Danny Kaye’s wife and the creator of his signature wordplay routines. Read More…

On the Riviera

Editorial Review of On the Riviera (1951) starring Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney, Corinne Calvet, courtesy of Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com On the Riviera, starring Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney, Corinne Calvet

Just as Love Affair inspired An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in SeattleFolies Bergère inspired That Night in Rio and On the Riviera. In Walter Lang’s Technicolor version, Danny Kaye takes on a dual role previously assumed by Maurice Chevalier and Don Ameche. A master of mistaken identity, Kaye makes it his own. His Jack Martin is an American song and dance man based in Monte Carlo. When playboy aviator Henri Duran (Kaye with French accent) returns from his latest adventure, Martin notices a resemblance. He also notices Duran’s neglected wife, Lili (Gene Tierney). After Duran is called away on business, Martin is enlisted to impersonate him for an important function. That gives him the chance to cozy up to Lili–and infuriate dance partner Colette (Corinne Calvet). Duran pays him back with an impersonation of his own. Read More…

Wonder Man

 Wonder Man (1945) starring Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen

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Wonder Man, starring Danny KayeDanny Kaye‘s Wonder Man serves as a vehicle for Danny Kaye to show off his versatility in singing, dancing, and comedy.  Danny Kaye plays twin roles—literally—as Edwin Dingle, an academic bookworm, and as his twin brother, Buzzie Bellew, famous nightclub entertainer.  Buzzie is the only eyewitness to a murder by the villain of the movie, Ten Grand Jackson.  In addition, Buzzie is engaged to Midge (played by Vera Ellen, his romantic lead from White Christmas), although he keeps ‘postponing’ the wedding.  Early in the movie, after a very entertaining sample of Buzzy’s nightclub act (which gave me a better appreciation for Danny Kaye’s dancing ability), Buzzy is murdered by two of Ten Grand Jackson’s goons. Read More…

Danny Kaye: King of Jesters

Danny Kaye: King of Jesters by David Koenig

Danny Kaye - King of JestersYou remember the red-haired zany from the holiday favorite White Christmas … the lovable storyteller Hans Christian Andersen … the daydreamer Walter Mitty … the tongue-tied Court Jester … Now step behind the camera during the making of these classic movies.

Packed with never-before-published anecdotes and photos, Danny Kaye: King of Jesters takes the first-ever behind-the-scenes look at the creation of his film, TV, radio and stage work, and at the secret life of the incredible performer behind them. Read More…

Anatole of Paris – song lyrics

Song lyrics to Anatole of Paris, written by Sylvia Fine, sung by Danny Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

It all began when I was born a month too soon
My ma was frightened by a runaway saloon
Pa was forced to be a hobo
Because he played the oboe
And the oboe it is clearly understood
Is an ill wind that no one blows good Read More…

The Pipes of Pan – song lyrics

Song lyrics to The Pipes of Pan (1958) – lyrics by Johnny Mercer, music by Saul Chaplin, performed by Danny Kaye and chorus of schoolchildren in the movie Merry Andrew

No, no, no, no no!

I mean the astral alien,
The creature bacchanalian
No good Episcopalian
believes in.
It’s Pan!
(It’s who?)
Why, Pan!
(Oh, Pan!)
He was half a quadruped and half a man.
He was mischievous and naughty
And your troubles all began
When you first heard the Pipes of Pan! Read More…