Frequently Asked Questions
There are many common questions that people have regarding Danny. This page tries
to cover the basics.
Much of this information can, of course, be gathered from reading much of this site in its entirety.
However, if you're short on time and just want a simple answer, then this page is for you!
If you have a question not listed here, feel free to contact me.
F.A.Q.s About Danny
Does Danny have an official website? -
F.A.Q.s About This Site and Current Issues
Danny celebrated and disclosed his birthday as January 18, 1913, though he was most likely born on January 18, 1911 in Brooklyn, NY.
Some websites, as well as the Social Security Death Index, state that Danny was born on January 18, 1911. According to David Koenig (Danny Kaye: King of Jesters) January 28, 1911 is listed on Danny's birth certificate and passports. "[...] in his late 20s [Danny] shaved two years off his publicized age. But why he would add back an extra 10 days is mysterious and suggests that perhaps the date written on the certificate is in error," says Koenig.
Most sources, including articles, interviews, and biographies (Martin Gottfried's Nobody's Fool and Kurt Singer's The Danny Kaye Story, etc), state that Danny was born in 1913, not 1911. Danny himself said this in an article he wrote in . But according to , his correct birth year is 1911: "His actual year of birth was 1911, but the birthday he celebrated was 1913." In a recent interview with Dena Kaye, this issue was also mentioned: "Kaye was actually born Jan. 18, 1911, but he celebrated 1913 as the year of his birth. His daughter never discovered the explanation for the switch. 'He was not conventional,' she noted."
Yes. Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine eloped on January 3, 1940. They had a more official wedding on February 22, 1940 for the benefit of their families. (, , The Danny Kaye Story pg 73) They were married until his death on March 3, 1987.
Danny and Sylvia had one daughter, Dena, born on December 17, 1946. Dena is a freelance writer and has written many articles on travel. As far as anyone knows, Dena has not had any children of her own.
No. More often than not, Danny was not related to anyone with the last name of Kaye. Danny's real name was David Daniel Kominsky. (Various spellings of his last name have appeared including Kaminsky and Kaminski.) Danny was not related to Sammy Kaye, although during Danny's early career, many confused him with Sammy thinking he was an orchestra leader instead of an entertainer and comedian. Martin Gottfried in his book, Nobody's Fool, stated that Danny's older brother, Larry, had taken on the last name of Kaye. In fact, Gottfried claims that Danny got the idea for his stage name of Kaye from his older brother. If this is the case, then obviously there would be other people out there with the last name of Kaye (other than Danny's daughter, Dena) who would be related to him.
Red. Not blonde. Red. There are some out there that claim that Sam Goldwyn (producer
of Danny's first five movies) made Danny dye his hair red to make him look less Jewish.
This is NOT true. Goldwyn had Danny dye his hair blonde because of the Technicolor
cameras. Danny's first screen tests turned out horribly. As a result, his hair was
dyed blonde, makeup was used to soften his sharp features, and Goldwyn originally
wanted Danny to have a nose job. However, Danny refused and kept his nose intact,
despite what Goldwyn had suggested. In Danny's first three movies with Goldwyn, you'll
note that Danny's hair is blonde not red. It was not until Danny's fourth movie,
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, that he went back to his original hair color -
There are many sources that state that Danny's original hair color was red. All biographies point to this. One that is certainly noteworthy is Kurt Singer's The Danny Kaye Story which was written with the help of Danny and Sylvia. In Singer's biography, Danny's childhood is talked about...including his red hair. When speaking about his first role on stage, in a kindergarten production, Danny says, "I was somewhat dubious about the success of my role, for at that moment my hair was uncompromisingly red and my ears were snowy white." (The Danny Kaye Story pg 37)
Danny starred in 17 feature films. His first was Up in Arms; his last was The Madwoman of Chaillot.
No. Despite what you've seen in movies, Danny did not play any instruments, although he was certainly an excellent mimic! This was confirmed by his wife, Sylvia, in this article. It has also been said that he could not read music. In the article, Sylvia said, "Danny, as you know, is a genius. He was born with a middle ear, or whatever you call it. He also has a natural beat. I’ve offered to teach him to read music for 20 years. Danny has never had a lesson." Danny himself admitted he couldn't read music when he conducted the New York Philharmonic at the Lincoln Center in 1981 ("An Evening With Danny Kaye"). It is interesting to note, however, that in Kurt Singer's The Danny Kaye Story, Danny's accompanist, Sammy Prager, had this to say: "Many performers do not know one note of music from the next. Danny, although he denies it, can read music, but it should not be his responsibility to follow notes. He should be given room to expand and create on the spot. This is what I try to do for him." (pg 133) Sometimes a person's definition of "reading music" varies. It is possible that Danny could decipher various notes, but didn't feel he had enough knowledge to actually thoroughly read music the way most musicians and professional singers do. I myself can pick out a note here and there if I tried, but I certainly don't feel I could actually read music.
No, Danny did not fluently speak any foreign languages. He did, however, speak Yiddish. Since his parents were Jewish immigrants, Yiddish was the first language Danny learned. He didn't learn English until he started school. (The Danny Kaye Story pg 32) Aside from that, however, he did not fluently speak another language, though many assumed that he did. Danny explained, in an article, "This is not true. I know a few words, just enough to fool people temporarily. But, when they start talking to me in their language, I'm lost." Kurt Singer put it like this in his book, The Danny Kaye Story, "He has never thoroughly mastered any foreign language, although he knows a smattering of many." (pg 233)
March 3, 1987. Danny had been suffering from hepatitis C, which he contracted from a blood transfusion after having quadruple bypass surgery in February 1983. Articles have stated that when he was admitted to the hospital on March 1, 1987, he was suffering from hepatitis and internal bleeding. He passed away on March 3 from a heart attack or heart failure, depending on which article you read.
Me...a devoted Danny fan and a Midwestern girl, born in 1982. I was introduced to
The Court Jester by my father when I was eight-
No. This is a fan-
No. I have no contact information for Dena Kaye, nor have I ever contacted her myself regarding this site.
A lot of movies can be found on Amazon. You could also check Ebay.
Yes, but most are quite expensive. Some have been priced as high as $1500 (US dollars). Check places like Ebay for availability.
Very likely, if it is related in any way to Danny or Sylvia.