“Danny Kaye Is Frustrated Surgeon”

The News and Courier – Oct. 12, 1952

By: James Bacon (Associated Press Staff Writer)

HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 11 (AP)—Danny Kaye is a frustrated surgeon. He also is a fellow who will do anything a photographer asks to make a good news picture.

And that, he explains, is the reason for his recent European episodes which left a trail of unstuffed shirts and wounded dignitaries in Denmark and England.

The Brooklyn-born comedian, whose European popularity usually is rated with that of Charlie Chaplin’s, first got himself in dutch with the Danes when he was chosen to portray Hans Christian Andersen in a four million dollar Samuel Goldwyn movie. The Danish Foreign Office protested the casting of a comic in the part of Denmark’s national hero.

That was softened somewhat when prominent Danish-Americans viewed the rushes of the film and found that Kaye was playing the role fairly straight – no git-gat-gittle or any other of the Kaye comic tricks.

When the picture was finished, Kaye announced he was going to visit Denmark to “be forgiveness” of the people.

“After all,” he told reporters, “we only intended to be whimsical, not historical.”

Visiting Copenhagen, Danny was met by huge mobs. He laid a floral wreath on the statue of the famed story teller. Later he presented a bound copy of the “Hans Christian Andersen” script to Prime Minister Erik Eriksen. Eriksen presented Kaye to the Danish Parliament, an honor usually reserved for visiting statesmen.

“Everything was quite pleasant,” adds Danny. “I loved the Danes and they seemed to love me.”

But then Danny made one visit too many. He went to the Andersen Museum, where the writer’s belongings are preserved. After the visit, the Hans Christian Andersen Society accused Danny of making funny faces in Andersen’s bed and other “scandalous” conduct.

Danny doesn’t deny the charges. He even brought back the pictures to prove them. However, he insists his side of the story never has been told.

“I visited the museum as respectfully as any other visitor,” he says, “except that half of the news photographers in Denmark accompanied me.

“Photographers in Denmark are like good photographers here or any place else. They can’t go back to the city editor with a shot of an American comic just walking through a museum.

“So they urged me to sit and lie on Andersen’s bed, to try on his boots and other poses that would make good pictures. I hesitated and looked at the curator of the museum. He smiled approval. So I went ahead.”

In England, where he is the prime U. S. favorite, Danny got himself in more hot water. The funny man’s visit – masked and gowned – to a hospital operating room in Newcastle brought official protest in the House of Commons.

A Laborite member demanded that this “particular method of entertaining music hall comedians does not spread.” Health Minister Iain MacLeod told protesting M.P.’s there would be an official investigation.

What is not generally known is that the medical profession lost a member when Kaye became a comic. He is greatly interested in surgery and has watched hundreds of operations in this country.

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