Thursday, January 18, 2007

WE REMEMBER DANNY KAYE


Today is the birthday of Danny Kaye. He was born in the same year as my mother. We lost this comic genius twenty years ago to a sudden heart attack.Kaye was a familiar face on television. He starred in his own musical-variety series, "The Danny Kaye Show," for four seasons (1963-67). It won him an Emmy Award in 1963. He also received an Emmy for his 1975 appearance on "Danny Kaye's Look-In and the Metropolitan Opera," part of "The CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People" series. The following year, he starred opposite Sandy Duncan in "Pinocchio," and as Captain Hook to Mia Farrow's "Peter Pan."
When he returned to Broadway in 1970 in Two by Two, he hurt his hip but continued with the show, appearing night after night for 10 months either on crutches or in a wheelchair.
Although performing was the backbone of his life, Kaye's heart was also with UNICEF for which he was a permanent ambassador-at-large to the world's children. He was so identified with the United Nations agency that, when in 1965, UNICEF received the Nobel Peace Prize, Kaye was selected to accept it.
The entertainer logged thousands of miles on his UNICEF jaunts. He once went to 65 cities in five days and did all the piloting, one of his hobbies. He started flying, also "100 years ago," with a single engine plane and has since flew 747s.
Laughter, however, is what he did best--singing, impersonating and miming, making audiences laugh and cry in the same breath, changing staid adults into grinning children by making faces at them or following a routine such as one he used in Washington D.C. when presented with an award for his work with UNICEF from B'nai B'rith International.
At the end of his standing ovation, he told the audiences to keep standing. He suggested that they all sing "Happy Birthday" to no one in particular. At the end of the song, he asked them why they were "standing up like fools." Then he made faces at the photographers for 20 seconds "so they would go away."
As a youngster, David Daniel Kaminsky wanted to be a doctor. He has become one, using what is considered the best medicine.

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