“Comedian Kaye Is Modest Despite Success in Film”
St. Petersburg Times – Mar. 26, 1944
By: Louella O. Parsons
HOLLYWOOD—(INS)—Money alone will never satisfy Danny Kaye and his music composing wife, Sylvia Fine, for neither of them are mercenary. They want above all a distinguished career for Danny and one that will live on even after the name Kaye becomes but a memory.
I have seldom met two such idealistic young people. To see blond Danny, who makes funny faces and sings eccentric songs, you get no idea of what goes on in that busy brain of his. You have to talk with him to realize how serious he is about his work and how much he wants to be a creative artist—which, of course, he is at this moment.
“I’ll never be able to thank Sam Goldwyn enough,” he told me, “for taking a chance on me and putting all that money in ‘Up in Arms.’ It was really a two million dollar gamble on an unknown, for he didn’t know whether my comedy would go in a motion picture.”
This from the comedian who turned Hollywood upside down in his first picture and who has won plaudits from critics, fans and actors alike.
Syliva, who accompanied Danny to my house for coffee, and it really was coffee for her and milk for him, since neither care for cocktails, said: “I feel Danny will do his best work when he is a little older and on the stage and has had more experience. No young actor ever achieved greatness, fame perhaps, but not such greatness as John Barrymore had when he was alive.”
John is their idol. I learned that Danny has looked at all the movies Barrymore appeared in during the last years of his life.
“Did you see him in ‘Grand Hotel’ and ‘Topaz,’” Danny asked. “Wasn’t he superb? So versatile and such a great actor!”
I thought it rather touching that this boy, whose comedy is the sensation of the day, should have looked at those old Barrymore prints to study them. Almost in the same breath Danny and Sylvia asked if I had ever seen John Barrymore on the stage in “Richard III” and “Hamlet.” I told them I had seen him in practically every one of his plays—“Peter Ibbetson,” “The Jest” and even some of his earlier light comedies.
Danny Kaye’s expressive hands have always fascinated me and when I mentioned them and what an important part they play in his routines he said: “I learned to use my hands and put over a song when I spent a year in China, Japan and the Philippines. I couldn’t speak the language and that’s the way I made them understand me. I sang, too, in the jargon you heard in ‘Melody in 4F.’”
Danny is our most traveled actor. He has been in nearly every country in the world. He made a tour with a revue and was paid $40 a week.
“What was your first real break?” I asked.
“‘Lady in the Dark,’” he said. “Moss Hart telephoned and asked me to do him a favor—play the Photographer. ‘Just a little part,’ he said. Imagine asking me to do him a favor. I was so excited it took me a week to recover.” Moss, who has been their house guest, is given credit by Danny for his stage success, just as Goldwyn is praised for his faith in him. A nice guy that Kaye. Simple, unspoiled and one person in this town called Hollywood who doesn’t forget.
I find he is very strong in his likes and preferences. Jack Benny, for instance, is to him one of the greatest comedians who ever lived. “What I wouldn’t give to be able to get up and ad lib the way he does.” He likes Benny personally, too, “because there isn’t a jealous hair in his head and he is always glad of the other fellow’s success.”
Danny, who looks Swedish, with his mane of blond hair, is really Russian. His real name is David Daniel Kuminsky.
He told me about when Sylvia took him home to meet her family. He had let his hair grow long because he thought he looked funnier for his stage parts that way.
“My family took one look at him,” said Sylvia, “and thought I had lost my mind.”
“Her father,” said Danny, “recognized me as the boy who had worked in his dental office and thought his daughter was making a terrible mistake.”
Danny and Sylvia have been married five years. He believes he owes most of his success to her. She writes his songs and it was she who had faith in him and encouraged him when it seemed as if no one wanted the Kaye brand of humor.