“On the Glamour Scene: Writer Of Words, Music Says Youth Always Rebellious”

The Palm Beach Post – Dec. 3, 1967

By: Eleanor Lambert

There is at least one woman, wife and mother, who doesn’t wring her hands and beat her chest over today’s crazy kids. She can prove historically that they too will pass—to deplore the next generation of rebels.

Sylvia Kaye has made a close study of today’s rebellious young all over the world, and she has come up with comfort to sing about. The composer and lyricist (“just say I’m a writer of words and music”) of hits like “The Five Pennies” and “The Moon is Blue” is working on a Broadway musical on the subject. It is already named, “We’re a Whole New Thing,” and traces the blame-our-parents-they-don’t-understand pattern through several branches of a family tree.

Each branch, of course, believes it is an entirely new species.

“I ought to know. I come of a long line of rebels, and I certainly married one. The first time I brought Danny home, my father yelled, ‘Hey, aren’t you the kid who used my drilling machine all over our woodwork?’ He was. My father always hired a kid in the neighborhood to answer the phone when everybody was out, and Danny has an inquisitive nature.

“Both my grandfather and my father were socialists, anti-Communists, born agitators. When I was a kid in Brooklyn my father used to shout at me, ‘How can you lie there and read a book? Why aren’t you out making speeches?’”

With all that background, the play’s still taking a long time to tell. “Leonard Spiegelgass and I have been working on this thing three years. Kermit Bloomgarten will produce it. I guess, though I’m basically an assignment writer. I can turn anything out to meet a deadline, but it’s harder when you’ve given yourself time.”

I should have identified her before this as Sylvia Fine, her professional and maiden name. But she concentrates much more on being Mrs. Danny Kaye, and mother of 20-year-old Dena. It is hard to turn the conversation away from the family and onto her career.

The apartment the Kayes stay in when they’re in New York looks all over Central Park. It is all cool willow green and white chintz with lots of shining antique mahogany. We had lunch at an old English breakfast table against the windows. The chicken salad had that special fleck of herbs and curry you’d expect from a great cook.

“Oh yes, I’m good. I cooked magnificently until the day we got married. Then Danny took it up, and now Dena has. When those two specialist-types start in on something, I tell you it shrinks the field.

“Now I have to be content with being the party chef, and thinking up specialties for a crowd after 2 a.m. I keep a refrigerator stocked with things to enhance my reputation as a world champion at short orders. All Danny has to say is ‘Syl, we’re hungry,’ and I’m off.”

As she chose careful morsels of her famous food and purred along in her low voice, I kept thinking, “She looks like Cassius.” Cassius is my silver Persian cat. He started a lean and hungry little thing, jittery and combative. Now, like Sylvia Fine Kaye, he is lithe, sleek and serene. He too has wide grey-gold eyes which never dart sideways, but turn a deep gaze full on you.

The calm is plainly a deliberate insulation over coiled, supercharged nerves.

I’ve been a fan of Sylvia’s since one night, years ago, when I watched her quietly maneuver Danny out of one of those I-don’t-feel-like it moods into standing in the middle of a living room and running through his entire repertoire—enchantingly.

He has been put on the spot by the hostess, but the host was a man we all loved, and it would have been awkward to refuse. She accompanied him on the piano, playing mostly songs she had written for him.

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