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Danny Kaye: What You Didn't Know About This Iconic Funny Man

 

Danny Kaye preferred to be called an entertainer rather than a comedian because he believed that the term more accurately summed up all of his talents, and it is true that he seemed to be doing it all. He was a street performer, vaudeville entertainer, actor, singer, author, stand-up comedian, and TV variety show host. He has performed on Broadway, in films, for the USO, and on radio and television. You may know a little about Danny Kaye from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and his work on White Christmas, but there's a lot more about this iconic funny guy that you probably didn't know.

His Name Was Not Danny

David Daniel Kominsky was born in Brooklyn on January 18, 1911, a few years after his Ukrainian Jewish parents and two older brothers immigrated to the United States. Although he never tried to hide his religion or ethnicity, he chose the stage name Danny Kaye when entering show business because it sounded more American, fit on marquee cues, and sticks more to the tongue than David Kominsky. rotated easily. Both of his older brothers, Mack and Larry, also adopted more American-sounding names: Max Kamin and Larry Kaye, respectively. Kaye also wasn't a natural blonde, but the advent of Technicolor meant her red hair looked too serious on film, so she dyed it for many of her most famous roles.


That Was A Smartpants

Kaye could complete scripts for memory in just hours and memorize musical arrangements for his volunteer work conducting symphony orchestras at fundraising events because he could not read music. He is said to have remembered Tchaikovsky within a few hours. Had he not had success in show business, he might have become a doctor. He loved medicine and the study of the human body, often read medical journals, and thanks to his celebrity, he was invited to sit in on several surgeries and other medical procedures. He was an honorary member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the only non-professional member of the American College of Surgeons.

He was also an inventor. You know that noisy party favor that you blow to open a snake-like tube? Kaye co-invented the three-tube blower in 1952 with a friend, Eddie Dukoff.


He Was An Avid Aviator And Baseball Fan

Kaye received his pilot's license in 1960 and enjoyed flying so much that he continued training until he was licensed to fly the 747 jumbo jet, the DC-10 and the Lear jet. He had a commercial pilot's license and had experience flying both single-engine and multi-engine aircraft. Twice, Danny Kaye flew beyond the speed of sound.

He was also influenced by baseball and remained a loyal follower of the Brooklyn Dodgers when he relocated to Los Angeles. Thanks to his amazing memory, he could remember scores and stats at a moment's notice, and was often seen in the stands at major league ballparks across the country. He also served as a celebrity baseball commentator for a game in 1973, and three years later, he became one of the original owners of the Seattle Mariners.


He Married The Same Woman Twice

Kaye met pianist and composer Sylvia Fine while they both worked on The Straw Hat Revue on Broadway, and in 1940, they fled to sunny Fort Lauderdale to escape. However, at the request of his parents, he repeated the marriage ceremony in a synagogue a month later. They had a daughter, Dena, and were married until Kaye's death on March 3, 1987.


He Once Accepted The Nobel Prize

To be clear, Kaye did not win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he devoted many years to working with UNICEF and even served as the organization's first ambassador. In 1965, when UNICEF was selected to win the Nobel Peace Prize, its leaders asked Kaye to travel to Norway to accept the prize on behalf of the charity. UNICEF was one of several charities that Danny Kaye supported, and he also founded his own philanthropic organization, the Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation, which his daughter still leads as chairman.

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