So what did Danny have to say about his personality?

Here is a compilation of quotes from the man himself...


(Danny Kaye on The Dick Cavett Show)

[From May 9, 1954]

“Heaven knows I have faults. Lots of them. But inner things are a person’s own private business. Yet, I can cite one article of faith to which I have always stuck: Never be salacious or in any way smutty, direct or indirect on the stage. That kind of stuff offends and embarrasses me as much as the most devout Puritan in any audience.”

[From March 23, 1958]

“Yeah, I’m happy most of the time. Oh, sure, I’ve got some emotional problems, but who hasn’t?”

“They say I’m tense and distraught. I guess people have a misconception of me. In films they see me flinging myself all over the screen. Actually, I can sit still almost longer than anyone I know.”

“When I go off to work, I wind up like a spring. If I were wound up like that all the time the men with white coats would come and take me away.”

“Sometimes I don’t have any fun at all but the audience doesn’t know this because I do a workmanlike job no matter how I feel. I never know when I’m not going to have any fun. I don’t say to myself ‘Tonight, no fun.’ Many nights I’m dead tired but five minutes after I go on all the weariness is gone. I guess I catch something from the audience. I’m giving the audience happiness and they are giving it right back to me by being happy.”

“I’m the kind of performer who doesn’t work as well in front of a blank wall, or a movie camera, as in front of people.”

[From May 1, 1959]

“I can’t be a madcap in every picture . . . I’m not one at heart.”

[From August 30, 1959]

"I can’t be strictly a madcap in every picture. I’m not a madcap at heart, really. I have my moods."

[From August 10, 1960]

“I knew from the start of my career that I wouldn’t do more than one picture a year. I would do more if I were an actor. But I’m not. I’m a very specialized kind of guy and it’s hard to find material for me."

[From November 3, 1961]

“No matter how hard you try there are always a few things you want to try again. There are times when I come off a stage at night completely disgusted with myself. Then a good night will keep me happy for a while.”

[From May 11, 1963, Billboard magazine]

Danny Kaye (on how he works): "People ask me, 'Why do you change your act each night? Isn't it dangerous?' Sure it is. But then, almost anything anyone does in this world has an element of danger. I'd rather take the chance of falling than not take any chance at all."

[From December 8, 1964]

[speaking to a reporter about a rehearsal for The Danny Kaye Show] “It was a lousy rehearsal. I was down, so everything was down. What I feel inside is always reflected in the show.”

[From September 22, 1965]

[in regards to his beloved LA Dodgers] “I never give up until the last pitch of the last inning.”

“People said I was a nut, a perfectionist who would last six weeks in television and then go quietly mad because of the way you have to work in TV. But I’m not a perfectionist. Anyone who says that he is a perfectionist is claiming that what he tries to do is perfect work. Perfect in whose eyes? His own? The public’s? All I try to do is the best I can. When you put together a complete show in five days – the equivalent of two-thirds of a movie – you can’t expect everything to be polished. Things can go wrong, but you capitalize on them in TV, and that gives an added quality."

[From Popular Science - Jan. 1967]

[In regards to mathematics and getting his piloting license.] "When I was a kid in school I just couldn’t get mathematics. Here I am in the midst of a course that requires mathematics, and I can’t even add. If I’ve got four sets of figures to sum up, I begin at the top and add down. Then I add from the bottom up. Then I separate the figures, two and two, add them, and take those sums and add them together, and if it comes out the same, I must be right."

[From Nov. 4, 1970]

“I don’t like making plans, which is one reason why they used to call me Joe Improviser. Once I get the germ of an idea, you better get out of my way.”

[From Dec. 13, 1970]

“I guess you’d call me an instinctive rather than intuitive performer. And all the energy people talk about—well, I do have a log, but I don’t use it indiscriminately, so when I need it I can draw on it.”

“I’m an overenthusiast. I start something, go at it with everything until I lose interest."

“I’ve got to find a new hobby that’s exciting and challenging. I’ve got an idea all this kind of food may be it.”

“I realize that deep inside anyone may have certain contradictory, possibly undesirable qualities. But you accept that, adjust and don’t let it hurt you.”

[From December 23, 1979]

“I’m sure there’s a secret part of me. If I ever find out what it is, I’ll reveal it.”

[From December 12, 1984]

"...I was eccentric almost all my life, meaning I never went by the book... Rules to me were always confining, especially in my profession."

“Everybody has ego needs.”

What are the worst things about Danny Kaye? “Impatience, irritability, and a short temper,” he says—three qualities that emerge under stress.

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