“Wife Brings Kaye Success In Show”

Prescott Evening Courier – Mar. 3, 1942

By: Adelaide Kerr (Wide World Features Writer)

Sylvia Fine has turned the trick that is every wife’s aim.

She helped bring her husband success and fame.

When she and Danny Kaye were married two years ago, they had $40 and no jobs. Today Danny is star of the Broadway musical hit “Let’s Face It,” and his rollicking singing and pantomime lay ‘em in the aisles.

Broadway’s wise boys will tell you Danny “has what it takes” himself. But they also know some of his biggest hits have been in sketches co-authored by his wife and accompanied by her at the piano, and that she coached him, advised him and stood by when the going was stiff. Danny tells ‘em.

He never takes a curtain call after a benefit performance without saying, “I’d like to introduce someone without whose help I wouldn’t be here—Sylvia Fine, my wife.”

Sylvia Fine was not born to show business. She is the daughter of a Brooklyn dentist. She whipped through high school and Brooklyn College and expected to be a concert pianist—strictly Carnegie hall. But the clever verses she wrote for her college newspaper and her father’s advice steered her on another course. She molded her verse into songs and worked in a summer children’s camp as dramatic counselor. Eventually she worked with Max Liebman, director of the summer theater at Camp Tamminment, Pa., and began a writing collaboration which lasts to this day. Then at the Sunday Night Theater of the Hotel Barbazon Plaza in New York she met Danny Kaye, who had trouped for 10 years in the Midwest and Orient, but meant nothing in Broadway’s life.

Recently, Sylvia, seated in their New York apartment, told the story of their acquaintanceship, marriage and climb. Told in a low voice with a curious quiet humility which never advanced herself.

“When I saw Danny first I didn’t like him one bit—his clothes, his demeanor—but I did recognize an amazing talent and versatility. So I called Max and said, ‘I’ve found a genius. He’s covered with circuit corn and cheap theatrical tricks, but there’s pure gold underneath.’ Max agreed with me when he saw him, We worked together, changed Danny’s clothes and his haircut, consulted about his technique. Gradually Danny came to have more and more faith in my judgment. And he was wonderful—never resented a criticism.”

In time the three worked together in “Straw Hat Revue,” which marked Danny’s first Broadway appearance. It closed and he went to Florida for a holiday with other members of the cast. But he had not been there long before he telephoned Sylvia “I never missed anyone so much in my life. Come down.” She did—and they were married on the $40 stake. Back in New York they went to their separate homes and told their families nothing.

Then Sylvia persuaded Danny to try night club work—from which he had shied, helped him get a contract, wrote some of his sketches and accompanied him at the club “La Martinique.” He proved a whopping success. So for the benefit of their families they were married all over again, “veil, flowers and striped pants.” Mrs. Kaye still coaches and advises Danny and (in collaboration with Liebman) writes a number of his sketches—two of which are hits in the current show.

She does a lot besides. Fusses over his food, admires his new suits, doesn’t wear veils or earrings because he doesn’t like them, tells him when he is good, and when his ties are terrible. Whenever she talks about him her conversation is peppered with references to “his wonderful talent,” “his amazing versatility,” “his great sense of comedy.”

Talking about her the other day a Broadwayite said wistfully, “I guess that’s one wife who thinks her husband’s funny.”

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