The Five Pennies (1959)

Academy Awards

Sylvia was nominated for the song “The Five Pennies”

Also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Music - Scoring of a Musical Picture

Golden Globes

Nominated for Best Motion Picture - Musical

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Movie Trivia

The Five Pennies is a biographical movie based on the life of Red Nichols. While there are some comical moments in the film, it is one of Danny's more dramatic roles and he does a superb job. Susan Gordon plays Dorothy Nichols as a child and is absolutely adorable! The scenes between Danny and Susan are some of the best in the movie, especially the poker game. This movie did, however, have a slightly different feel to it than I was used to. It isn't filled with constant comedy nor is it an action-packed, high-emotions film. It's starts off as a gentle, biographical story, but then the movie really picks up when Red Nichols makes the decision to put his daughter, Dorothy, into a boarding school. From there the pace and the emotions escalate. Overall, it was entertaining and quite a pleasure to see Danny in something different. His moments with Susan Gordon are simply wonderful as are his appearances with Louis Armstrong.

Film Information

Filmed: Oct. 7 - Dec. 12, 1958

Released: June 18, 1959
(Koenig, David.
Danny Kaye: King of Jesters, pg 189)

According to a December 1958 article, Danny’s daughter, Dena, had a small one-line role in this movie.

This is the second movie that Louis Armstrong appeared in with Danny, the first being A Song Is Born (1948).

This movie was produced by Danny and Sylvia’s production company, Dena Productions, in collaboration with Paramount.

The real Red Nichols did the music for Danny’s trumpet solos in the movie.

Bob Crosby, who has a minor role in this movie, is the younger brother of Bing Crosby.


“Making Clothes For Danny Kaye” - article on Danny Kaye and costumes; Sept. 1959

“Kaye’s Talents Get Workout in Movie” - article about Danny and The Five Pennies; Aug. 1959

“Danny Kaye Likes Excitement of ‘First’ Experiences” - interview about The Five Pennies; May 1959

“Daughter of Danny Kaye Has Role in Pop’s Picture” - small interview with Danny regarding The Five Pennies; Dec. 1958

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