Danny's Depression, Moodiness, Ego, and Rudeness
The following is ONLY speculation and theory!
This is only one fan's thoughts after reading through two biographical books and over 120 articles.
It is only speculation and not fact!
It is with Martin Gottfried's book, Nobody's Fool, (and possibly Michael Freedland's book, The Secret Life of Danny Kaye, though I have not read it) that one gathers the most information regarding the darker side of Danny. Gottfried speaks about the dark, depressive moods Danny would experience (witnessed by Perry Lafferty, for example), and he quotes from a variety of acquaintances and associates who spoke of Danny's apparent ego and rudeness. It is mainly from this book that one gets a fuller view of the fact that Danny dealt with a lot of moodiness and depression.
There IS one mention of this topic in an article when describing Danny: "on top of the world one minute, miserable the next."
Did Danny Say Anything...?
The only quotes so far that might be related in any way to this topic are as follows:
“Heaven knows I have faults. Lots of them. But inner things are a person’s own private business.” [From ]
“Yeah, I’m happy most of the time. Oh, sure, I’ve got some emotional problems, but who hasn’t?” [From ]
“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 ]
[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 ]
And it is interesting to note that in Kurt Singer's The Danny Kaye Story Danny had
this to say about his behavior before performances: “[…] I am more relaxed when I
get away and am doing something. Before each performance I often have a sort of manic-
If Gottfried's book can be taken as truth, a person might be tempted to not like this man named Danny Kaye. Someone might be tempted to say, "Sure, he was a talented performer, but he was egotistical and moody. He could be callous and rude to others. Why would I want to like this man or watch his films if that's the way he acted?"
First of all, let's remember...we are all human. None of us are perfect. We all have
a dark side, qualities within us that are not good, qualities that we would rather
forget. Danny obviously had some bad qualities. He had his faults. He admitted as
much in a article: “Heaven knows I have faults. Lots of them." Does that
negate the fact that he was an excellent performer? Does that make his performances
less entertaining? No. His performances are what they are-
Second, I believe that everybody acts a certain way for a reason. Many things contribute to our personality and our current characteristics and actions. If Danny was egotistical and moody, dealing often with bouts of depression...why?
That is what this page is for... Let's try to answer the "Why?"
Egotism and Depression
Others have speculated and claimed that Danny was manic depressive or bipolar, and I, for one, agree with those people. Again, if Gottfried's book is to be believed then Danny had moments when he was way up and moments when he was completely down.
Gottfried, in his book, writes the following:
"Torre [a New York television columnist, "whose article appeared on February 11,
1957"] also referred to the 'spells of moodiness, which prompt him to shut himself
off from everybody and sit in gloomy meditation . . . he's been known to strike a
subacid pose within seconds after he'd been on a laughing binge.' If that suggested
the possibility of a manic-
First, as far as I know that is true...there has never been any documented source
saying that Danny did indeed have manic depression. There have been other sources
(other biographies of other people) where it is mentioned that Danny did visit with
If he was diagnosed, why was it never mentioned by anyone? -
If he was not diagnosed, why not? -
Either way, whether Danny was or was not diagnosed with manic depression, from what I've read, my guess is that he did suffer from it. So he suffered from depression. What has that to do with his ego or personality? Again...this is only my own opinion and speculation...but consider the list of symptoms of Bipolar disorder from :
Signs and symptoms of the Manic phase of bipolar:
(I have listed all the symptoms below as found on website. As with any condition, not all symptoms are necessarily present in all diagnosed individuals.)
*Agitation or irritation
*Increased physical activity
*Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
*Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
*Increased sex drive
*Decreased need for sleep
*Inability to concentrate
The manic symptoms listed on are: excessive happiness, excitement, irritability,
restlessness, increased energy, less need for sleep, racing thoughts, high sex drive,
and a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans. I will refrain from listing
the symptoms of depression, as I am sure most know and understand depression to some
degree. In any case, it was the symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar (aka manic
depression) that intrigued me. When I first read through the symptoms from , the first one that popped out at me was: inflated self-
I also found it interesting to note that one of the symptoms listed on was restlessness, something that has been mentioned before in regards to Danny. Such as this snippet from a article: "In Copenhagen to give a lift to the capital’s 800th anniversary celebrations, Kaye owned up to a restlessness that has kept him moving round the globe since making his last TV show in April. 'The restlessness built up during the four years I was doing the show,' he said. 'I just had to be in one place in California for months at a time. When I finished, I played in Vegas but cut that short, went to Israel for a month, went home for five days and then to the South Pacific for 16 days.'" Then, of course, there is the irritability: "What are the worst things about Danny Kaye? 'Impatience, irritability, and a short temper,' he says—three qualities that emerge under stress." ()
Please understand...this is only my theory...a fan's theory. It could all be merely coincidental. But what if it isn't? What if some of Danny's less desirable qualities were the result of a medical condition? When there is a chemical imbalance, some depression, even anxiety, going on within a person's body, that certainly does change the way you act, especially with others. When left untreated, one can seem to change into a completely different person, to act in ways that they might not have done in the past. Obviously there is no way to know for sure whether or not any of this is true; and if it were to be true, there is no way of knowing when the symptoms might have begun. However, I find all of this worth taking into consideration when on the topic of Danny's personality.
I came across a particular website on Bipolar Personality that I found most interesting. Here is one particular snip from that page:
"Most often, bipolar people most often exhibit a quiet, articulate, thoughtful and intelligent personality, which is what you generally see when you talk with them. However, they may react strangely in small ways, leading you to wonder what triggered this out of character behavior. People with bipolar disorder also tend to be able to hide their true feelings quite well. In fact, they may well be so practiced in keeping things under wraps, you may just write off the occasional strange overreaction to a bad hair day."
This particular page goes on to speak about how those with Bipolar will sometimes
simply stop taking their medication. I do not know the medical validity of this page,
but it claims that there are certainly surprising out-
One thought on the rudeness
Before concluding, I would like to bring this one bit of information into the light. This comes from a article. In the past, there has been talk of rudeness. And, while I am not going to bring forth any specific speculations on that, I would like to point out this information from an interview, which I thought was very interesting.
"He thrives on work and his powers of concentration are such that he blots out everything else, often seeming distant and even rude to the people who have not been around him long enough to understand that he simply hasn’t seen or heard them."
Below is a snippet from an article [“Bits of Show Business” The Milwaukee Journal, Dec. 23, 1964], which brings up the topic of loneliness.
"Ray Boyle, former Milwaukee producer – director who now is a frequent performer
in minor roles on Danny Kaye’s television show, describes Kaye as 'the loneliest
man I’ve ever met.'
Boyle is also a stand-
Boyle said Kaye was 'a loveable man who won’t let anyone get close to him. He lives in a penthouse atop the studio, and no one sees him, including his wife, Sylvia Fine.'”
Obviously all I can say is that if a person is experiencing depression, most of the time the last thing you want to do is be around people.
Before we become disappointed and critical of Danny's darker side, let's remember
that there might have been more going on than anyone else might have realized. If
Danny did suffer from manic depression . . . bipolar disorder . . . and not just
mere bouts of depression, than some of those less desirable qualities would be much
more understandable. His ego, and even other aspects, might have been a result of
bipolar. Some people might have a tendency to think that an egotistical person has
a large ego because they truly think they are the greatest thing that walked the
face of the earth...but why is that? What's the reason behind the ego? Some people
might have a tendency to think that a callous person is just acting out because they
have a chip on their shoulder, some deep-
There is always a reason for our actions, and perhaps this was Danny's reason.
In any case...it is something to bear in mind. Consider it food-