“Poker-Face General Joins In Singing With Danny Kaye”

St. Petersburg Times – Sep. 4, 1943

By: John Todd

HOLLYWOOD—(INS)—Danny Kaye, the Broadway comedian who is taking a fling at Hollywood in the Goldwyn musical, “Up in Arms,” is still in there pitching at every camp show he can manage—but nothing on the west coast has topped his experience on a camp show junket to Washington.

While swapping between scenes yarns, Danny told of going to the capital city at the USO’s request to entertain men at the Walter Reed hospital. He was told a pass awaited him at the hospital’s sentry box.

Introducing himself to the sentry, he was asked:

“Where’s your orchestra, Mr. Kaye?”

“Look,” said Danny. “I’m Danny Kaye, not Sammy Kaye. I don’t have an orchestra.”

“Then you’ll have to wait,” said the guard. “This pass is for Sammy Kaye, not Danny Kaye.”

After 15 minutes of telephoning, the soldier finally passed him through the gate. Danny dashed to the stage and started to give out with everything he had.

Sitting in front rows, as customary at camp shows, were the officers, including two generals, half a dozen colonels, and an assortment of captains and lieutenants.

The ranking general was a model of military austerity whose face muscles had locked at dead center when he left West Point, according to Danny. Every time Danny got off a hot number he looked at the officers, who all looked at the general. The general didn’t smile and neither did they.

Danny finally gave up the officer’s section and concentrated on the enlisted men, until it was time to close the show with the audience joining in a song. For the participation number this time, he picked “Minnie the Moocher.”

He was two-thirds through “Minnie” when the singing volume leaped up as though somebody had turned on the amplifiers full blast.

Danny, startled, stopped singing, looked around, and what he saw nearly passed him out.

The general was on his feet singing “Minnie the Moocher” at the top of his lungs and every other officer in the party was accompanying him, their faces wreathed in smiles.

When the song was over, the general mounted to the stage and called for three cheers for that “incomparable entertainer, that inimitable comedian, Mr. Sammy Kaye.”

Riding back to New York, Danny helped himself to the railroad’s stationary and wrote a note:

“It must be nice to have your own orchestra and be on the stage as a hobby.”

He addressed it to Sammy Kaye.

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