“Danny Kaye Has No Urge to Lead Live Lion on Set”

The Milwaukee Journal – Jan. 14, 1946

Hollywood, Calif. – (U.P.) – Danny Kaye, who became famous by singing the names of 54 Russian composers in 40 seconds, had a one word answer when he saw the live and lively lion he was to lead on the set of “The Kid From Brooklyn.”

“No,” he said.

Danny, who plays a Milquetoasty milkman turned into a champion prize fighter with a cauliflower ego, was supposed to make a dramatic entrance into a crowded hotel lobby with the lion in tow.

For purposes of rehearsal, he used a cart, which did everything the lion was supposed to do but growl. He hauled it into the lobby of the hotel while several dozen extras scattered in easy chairs and sofas took to their heels dutifully.

“Bring on the beast!” Director Norman McLeod called. “No, we’ve had enough rehearsals,” he told the perspiring Kaye.

There was a muffled roar and the report of a blank cartridge revolver and the lion came roaring on the set, dragging at the end of a heavy chain a 200-pound trainer who was jiggling a pistol, kitchen chair and whip while trying to keep hold of the chain.

The trainer lost the battle. Director Norman McLeod, who should have been watching the extras’ performance, outdistanced them to the door. The reporter, who should have been watching the lion, outdistanced McLeod.

The beast strolled inquisitively about the set, nuzzling a camera here and pawing a prop there until a daring prop man recaptured the free end of the chain and returned it to the trainer.

Then it took 10 minutes to get the lion off the set. The trainer coaxed, threatened, swore. The lion growled, bared his teeth, swung his paw. We’re glad to report that brains won over brawn.

Danny, who had disappeared to get his make-up refreshed, came back glassy-eyed to watch the ordeal.

“Do you want to try it?” inquired McLeod.

“No,” said Kaye. “I am not going to impose my attentions where they are obviously not welcome.”

And he didn’t.

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