My Theories:
Low Self-Esteem?


There are times when it becomes easy to pick up an underlying tone or feeling from a person's statements. As I've read through all the articles and books in my research for this website, there were certain statements made by or about Danny that caused me to think that he might not have thought too highly of himself at times. "Haven't you been talking about ego on this website?" you might ask. The answer is: yes. We have been dealing with the subject of ego, as well. However, if you've already read Theory #1 you will remember that one of the possibilities for that ego might have been the possible manic-depression or bipolar that I believe Danny dealt with. I suppose there could also be a sort of "reverse psychology," if you will... Perhaps the ego was an over-compensation for the low self-esteem that he felt? A sort-of "cover up," to hide from others how he truly felt?

In any case... It does seem apparent that Danny did not always have a high opinion of himself, his appearance, and his talents. Even in Martin Gottfried's book, Nobody's Fool, at least two people made mention along these lines:

"'He never knew how wonderful he was,' [Broyna Galef] said." (Nobody's Fool, p. 317)

"[...] Dr. Rosenfeld's reading of Kaye's depressions. ('He was successful--he was worshipped--but I don't think he ever felt he deserved it.')" (Nobody's Fool, p. 317)

Where is the proof?

This theory first started percolating in my brain after seeing the beginning portion a YouTube clip, which is unfortunately no longer available. Having read Gottfried's book, Nobody's Fool, I knew he made mention early on of Danny's bright red hair as a child and the difference he must have felt from the other children because of it. This particular YouTube clip featured Danny and Lucille Ball on The Danny Kaye Show. He greets her warmly and affectionately says, "Hi redhead." Lucy smiles and returns the same warm greeting: "Hello, redhead." It was Danny's reaction that caught my attention . . . ducking of the head and what looked like an embarrassed smile as he picked at a piece of lint on his pant leg. Danny had dyed his hair blonde periodically throughout his life. Originally, it was because Goldwyn made him to do it for the Technicolor cameras. However, after he stopped making movies with Goldwyn, there was nothing demanding him from continuing to dye his hair blonde, was there? I started to wonder if he did it because he preferred it that way at times? Could it have had anything to do with trying to hide his red hair, I wondered.

Then I read Kurt Singer's book, The Danny Kaye Story, and started finding other information and quotes that seemed to relate to this theory of low self-esteem:

About his hair and appearance:

"The girls made fun of his red mop of hair and gangling arms. [...] Danny was not popular. He could fight--as a matter of protection--but he basically didn't like roughness and was often licked by the more rugged boys his own age. Then, too, Danny as a child was skinny, disjointed, topped by a wad of pinkish-orange hair. It took him some time to grow to fit his long, dangling arms, his oversized white ears, long nose and kangaroo feet." (The Danny Kaye Story, pg 34)

About his hands:

I found this particular information interesting in regards to his hands... Apparently that was another image issue Danny dealt with as a child.

“[…] since his early school days, when his fists had dangled, large and limp, out of his brother’s coat, they had been a source of annoyance. They seemed to flop, to get in the way, to be too long, and too flexible.” (The Danny Kaye Story, pg 57)

A “talent scout for the Shubert Theater in New York had told him paternally, ‘Young man, you will never get anywhere in the entertainment world until you keep those cockeyed fingers under control.’” (The Danny Kaye Story, pg 57)

Years later when critics praised his elegant hand movements, Danny was unimpressed:

Danny Kaye: “I remember when my hands were my handicap. Now everyone suddenly admires my hands—even ballet dancers and famous surgeons have complimentary comments to make. But I have been conscious of them all my life, and they still seem like two large chunks of meat dangling from my wrists.” (The Danny Kaye Story, pg 57)

About his fast singing:

[From September 11, 1948] "A number of Gilbert and Sullivan singers, however, have been talking this fast for a century. Frankly, Kaye said, he doesn’t see what people think is so wonderful when he does it."

Other related info:

[From March 23, 1958] "Kaye has been known to walk out on an interview altogether. His wife has been quoted as saying that he does this because he is self-conscious. He has been quoted as saying that he does it because the questions have become unbearably silly."

The Conclusion

Each one of us is self-conscious about something, whether it be something related to our appearance or a particular action or habit we possess. Some have lower self-esteem than others. It is a human trait, and something that affects each of us. Sometimes we have a tendency to forget that our favorite entertainers and celebrities are human, too. For some reason, there is a strange action that occurs within our brains that makes us view these people as being on a higher pedestal than us. We forget that these people we admire so much have fallacies and low opinions just like we do. It can be comforting to know that deep down our favorite entertainers experience some of the same problems that we deal with. And, if we had ever been given the chance, perhaps we would have discovered that we can all relate to each other a lot more than we ever thought.

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