For weeks now all around the country, there have been events
honoring that king of jesters and jester of kings, Danny Kaye. In honor of the 100th
anniversary of the birth of this legendary entertainer and humanitarian,
cultural institutions as varied as the Paley Center of Media in Beverly Hills
and NYC's Lincoln Center have been putting together high-profile panels and
concerts which then paid tribute to Kaye's creative legacy.
Take -- for example -- those outdoor screenings of Kaye and
Bing Crosby's holiday classic "White Christmas" that the Academy
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
presented with faux snowfall back in December. Or just this past weekend, when 10
of Danny's movies were shown at the Pasadena
Convention Center as part of the
first-ever Danny Kaye Film Festival. Better yet, starting this Sunday at 6 a.m., Turner Classic Movies will be devoting a
solid 24-hour block of its schedule to airing many of Kaye's motion picture and
Yeah, it's been over a quarter of a century since we lost
Danny back in March of 1987. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of people out
there who still have extremely fond memories of this American icon. Especially
in the Big Apple, where "The Kid From Brooklyn
" was born back on January 18, 1913. Which is why today --
on the presumed 100th anniversary of Danny's birth -- New
York City officials will be declaring January 18, 2013, Danny Kaye Day.
Mind you, what I've described above is just the start of a
year-long celebration of Kaye's life and career. Among the other high points
will be a "Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine: Two Kids From Brooklyn" exhibit,
which will be opening on February 14 at the Library of Congress. The 56
artifacts on display here will not only pay tribute to Danny's talents but also
acknowledge his wife Sylvia's contributions.
After all, it was Ms. Fine who wrote the music and lyrics
for many of those tongue-twisting songs that Kaye became so famous for. And it
was Sylvia who masterminded much of Kaye's career. Which is what kept Danny in
the spotlight long after many of his show business contemporaries had simply
Of course, a big part of the Danny Kaye legend has to do
with this entertainer's allegedly meteoric rise to fame. As Fine and Kaye liked
to tell the tale, Danny got his start at the tender age of 16, tummling in the
Catskills. By September of 1939, Kaye made his Broadway debut in "The Straw Hat
Revue." It was also the first big-time credit for Sylvia, the show's composer
and lyricist, whom Danny had met at a nightclub revue earlier that year. Weeks
after "The Straw Hat Revue" closed, in January of 1940, the two married. And,
little over a year later, Kaye rocketed to fame thanks to a high-profile
supporting role in the Kurt Weill / Ira Gershwin musical, "Lady in the Dark."
Danny Kaye (center) in "Lady in the Dark"
To become a star on Broadway at the age of 28 was a very big
deal back then. Which is why Danny and Sylvia made a point of telling this
story to every newspaper columnist and TV and radio reporter who might listen. Which
then made Kaye's obviously enormous talent seem that much bigger, given that
Danny had broken through into the big time at such a relatively young age.
There was only one problem with the story that Kaye and Fine
liked to tell. It wasn't true.
Sylvia Fine and Danny Kaye
So what exactly was wrong about the tale that Danny &
Sylvia told? To get the answer to that
question, you can either click on the headline at the very top of this page or
follow this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-hill/danny-kaye-centennial_b_2501031.html?utm_hp_ref=entertainment