“All The World’s A Stage For Danny”

Toledo Blade – Oct. 30, 1960

By: Jack Leahy

From the Catskill hotel circuit to Broadway, from Brooklyn to Bangkok, Danny Kaye has played to a total audience that numbers in the millions. His git-gat-giddle double talk is a universal language that has brought laughs in dozens of foreign countries.

And yet, the slim star of several continents is aware there are many thousands more, right here at home, who have never seen him in action. Tonight at 8 p.m. on Chs 11 and 2, Danny expects to correct this situation with his first strictly-for-laughs television show.

Long a holdout from the home screen, Danny is a little apprehensive about his debut.

“I’m not exactly confident about the success of our show,” he says, “but neither am I afraid of television. I’m hoping we’ll have a good show and I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”

“Naturally, I’m a little bit nervous about it. When I stop being nervous about this business, I’ll quit. It would mean I had lost interest in it.”

To stimulate Danny’s interest his contract calls for a cool $3 million for three hour-long specs, one a year for the next three years.

Actually, Danny has appeared on television before, but it was in a filmed documentary he made for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. The show was first presented in 1956 and repeated the following year. Danny holds the rank of permanent ambassador at large for the U.N.

Because of the huge audience expected for his appearance tonight, the comedian will do some of the routines which have become identified with him, as well as new material.

“I feel there just has to be a lot of people that night who have never seen me perform,” he says. “Some of the estimates I’ve heard about the expected size of the audience are enormous.”

Born in Brooklyn, the 47-year-old star of stage, screen and night clubs was well grounded in his profession before getting the “big break.”

In 1939, Danny landed on Broadway in the “Straw Hat Revue” with Imogene Coca. The show lasted only 10 weeks but Danny met his future wife, Sylvia Fine, who had written some of the songs for the musical. They were married Jan. 3, 1940. Danny’s production company, Dena Pictures, derives its title from their 13-year-old daughter, Dena.

The names of 50 Russian composers opened the door to fame for Danny. He rattled them off in a Gerswhin tune, “Tchaikovsky,” and stopped the show, “Lady in the Dark,” in 1940.

Rejected for the service during World War II because of a bad back, Danny sold more than $1 billion worth of war bonds and toured bases and hospitals entertaining troops.

In 1943, he began a long movie career that has included such hits as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Hans Christian Andersen” and “The Five Pennies.”

In the last film, Danny played a jazz musician, Red Nichols. Though he can’t read a note of music, Danny has conducted, for charity, the New York Philharmonic and other long-hair orchestras in Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Israel.

“I like all kinds of good music,” he says. “A taste for music is something you’re born with. If you like music, then you like all kinds of it.”

Danny usually brings a mixture of pathos and humor to his roles. This helps strengthen the traditional view of the comedian as a kind of Pagliaccio or tragic clown—a view that Danny roundly denounces.

“This nonsense about all comedians being sad or mixed up in private life is one of the fallacies that have been passed along as truth for years,” he claims. “It’s just like saying all fat men are jolly. It’s just not true. Some fat men are the meanest guys you could meet.”

Of the 14 movies the 160-pound 6-footer has made, he picks “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” as his favorite.

“But there are some things from all my movies that I like and other things that I dislike,” he explains. “As far as popular appeal is concerned, there is just no way of knowing what the public will like. Sometimes they go for things I can’t see at all. And the routines I think are great, sometimes fall flat. You can’t figure it.”

Despite his success in filmdom, Danny isn’t completely satisfied with movie work. The lack of an audience irks him.

“Sometimes they turn you lose in a room full of cameras where nobody is even breathing, let alone laughing,” he complains. “There’s nothing that can compare with working on a stage before people. In the 17 years or so that I’ve been in Hollywood, I’ve always managed to make a stage appearance each year. You’ve got to keep your hand in, you know.”

With the object of “keeping his hand in,” Danny plans to continue his work in other entertainment media after breaking the TV barrier. He’ll start filming a new movie soon and will undoubtedly find some vehicle to satisfy his showman’s urge to perform before live audiences. It won’t matter where because to Danny as to another famous man of the theater, all the world’s a stage.

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