"Guys Who Try to Sing Like Danny Kaye Better Give Up"

The Washington Reporter – Sep. 11, 1948

By: Patricia Clary (United Press Hollywood Correspondent)

HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 11 (UP) – Guys who try to sing like Danny Kaye might well give up, for Kaye himself doesn’t know how to do it.

He gave us a demonstration of scat-singing today but couldn’t explain it. He just sort of gets up and opens his mouth and lets a flock of syllables fly.

“I have no more idea what I say than you do,” said Kaye when he sat down.

Nobody needs a lesson anyway, Kaye said. All it takes to rattle like Danny is clean enunciation, a nimble tongue and seven or eight interesting languages, like Russian, Yiddish and Czechoslovakian.

He suggested that a would-be imitator practice on the Russian composers.

“When he can spiel off Malichevsky, Rubinstein, Arensky, Tschiakovsky, Sapellnikoff, Dmitriff, Prokokief, Shostakovich,Cherpnin, Kryjanowski and 42 others without stopping for breath,” said Kaye, “he’ll be an addition to any party.”

A number of Gilbert and Sullivan singers, however, have been talking this fast for a century. Frankly, Kaye said, he doesn’t see what people think is so wonderful when he does it.

People who desire to be the Danny Kaye of Kenosha sometimes follow him with pad and pencil to get his triple-tongued delivery down in print.

“One man tried for months,” Kaye said, “and all he got was ‘git-gat-gittle-if.”

This is partly because Kaye never sings the same way twice.

“I can’t control how it comes out,” he said. “I got inspired and throw in things as I go. Once I tried to do it slow for somebody. It killed me.”

Not even Warner Bros. can get Kaye to do the same thing twice, a calamity which completely disorganized movie-making routine.

Singers are supposed to record first, then go through the motions in front of the cameras. Since Kaye never went through prescribed motions, the desperate Warners were forced to make “Happy Times” the simple way, taking the pictures while he sang.

They got a new uni-directional microphone to do the job. It doesn’t hear anything on the stage except Kaye.

How Kaye does his routine all depends on who’s listening. Sometimes he draws so inspiring a group that he makes up a whole new act.

“When I was in England,” he illustrated, “they asked me to do something with a cup of tea. I was uninspired. What can you do with a cup of tea?”

A week later, during his show, he suddenly said to the band leader:

“I haven’t had my cup of tea today.”

“I just said it,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about the tea. I didn’t think they’d laugh.

“Somebody, for a gag, brought me out a cup of tea. I said, ‘Have you got a sandwich? Have you got a chair?’

“I sat down with my cup and sandwich and did a seven-minute pantomime of two girls having tea and talking.”

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