The Shorts (late ‘30s)

Watch all 4 Shorts online thanks to the Library of Congress!

Dime a Dance          Getting an Eyeful          Cupid Takes a Holiday          Money on Your Life

The below picture was found on this blog.

In the late 1930s Danny appeared in several two-reel comedies--otherwise known as "shorts"--from the production company, Educational Films. Educational Films (or Educational Pictures) was a production company which eventually went out of business not long after these shorts were released. Certainly they are not up to the caliber of more famous shorts from say the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy, but you get a rare glimpse at Danny's early comedic talent. You also get a glimpse at a young Danny in his mid-twenties with the longer hair that Sylvia referred to in various articles. These shorts, though, were pre-Sylvia, during a time in Danny's life when he was struggling to find work and to make a name for himself.

In Dime a Dance, Danny does not appear as much as he does in the others. This short is more focused on Imogene Coca's character. Danny plays a sailor named Eddie who ends up impersonating a Russian. I found this short mediocre, not overly funny nor even carrying an intriguing story. Of the three, this is the one that I more or less have to force myself to watch. I find myself skipping through it just to find Danny's scenes. He's amusing and you can see that his talent for mimicking accents started early on in his life. Other than that, there's not much I liked about this particular short, but that could just be my taste. Others might enjoy seeing Imogene Coca's early works. Getting An Eyeful is definitely a step-up in the right direction, but still not the best of the three I've seen. In this short we see the appearance of Danny's character, Nickolai Nikolaevich, the character they also used for the other two shorts (Cupid Takes A Holiday and Money On Your Life). Danny is paired with Charles Kemper who plays a man trying to find work so he can marry his sweetheart. He ends up trying to be an optician, but fails miserably and gives poor Danny quite a rough time. The two of them together were fairly amusing in this, and Danny is quite adorable with his Russian accent and desire to escape this man's abuse. The final short, Money On Your Life, is the best of them all. It again pairs Danny with Charles Kemper. This time Charles Kemper plays Charlie, an insurance man who ends up selling Danny's character a life insurance policy. However, Charlie was recently told to only sell policies to those that are healthy and safe, one more screw-up and he loses his job. Danny's character happens to be trying to escape from 2 men who are out to kill him. So the whole plot of this short is Charlie trying to keep Nickolai safe. It's a funny, cute short and again Danny and Charles Kemper work good together. Once again Danny uses his Russian accent. However, there are also moments in this short when I just have to cringe as Danny tends to get a beating--probably quite unintentionally at times. A large framed picture falls down on his head...staged, no doubt, but the way it falls makes it look quite realistic and you just have to wonder how hard it hit him. Another moment comes when a man is demonstrating his ability to use martial arts; he ends up demonstrating on Danny, flipping him over. Danny lands behind a wall so you can't see how he lands or what he lands on, but it looks quite realistic and definitely makes me cringe. The fact that these shorts were filmed on a cheap budget makes you wonder just how safe some of these stunts were. In any case, it's the most amusing of the shorts and definitely worth watching...if only to see a young, comedic Danny.

Dime a Dance - released: December 23, 1937 (according to Internet Movie Database)


Imogene Coca ... Esmerelda

Danny Kaye ... Eddie

June Allyson ... Harriet

Hank Henry ... Homer

Barry Sullivan ... Sailor

Getting An Eyeful - released: January 21, 1938 (according to Internet Movie Database)


Charles Kemper ... Henry Groper, Optician

Danny Kaye ... Nikolai Nikolaevich

Sally Star

Cupid Takes a Holiday - released: February 4, 1938 (according to Internet Movie Database)


Danny Kaye ... Nikolai Nikolaevich

Douglas Leavitt ... owner

Estelle Jayne ... Prospective Bride

Ruth Lockwood ... Prospective Bride

Paulene Myers ... Dianna, the maid

George Watts ... Jeeves, the butler

Money On Your Life - released: May 13, 1938 (according to Internet Movie Database)


Danny Kaye ... Nikolai Nikolaevich

Charles Kemper ... Charlie Kemp

Sally Star ... Alice

Harry Gribbon .... window cleaner

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