Up in Arms (1944)

"...suffered a slipped disk in his spine while doing the hilarious theater lobby sequence. The injury that came dangerously close to crippling him for life." (March 19, 1954)

Wonder Man (1945)

In the number "Bali Boogie" Danny was supposed to jump through a big drum. Upon doing so, he landed off balance and sprained his knee, holding up production. (July 22, 1944, August 21, 1944)

[ In Nobody's Fool, pg 98, Martin Gottfried writes that Danny turned his ankle. Considering that Danny himself said it was his knee in this July 22, 1944 article, we'll trust Danny's word and not Gottfried's. ]

Another snippet about the incident: "Danny Kaye sustained such severe injuries in a fall while shooting scenes for 'The Wonder Man' that he will have to walk on crutches for several weeks, necessitating cessation of the picture." [From: “Our Film Folks” By: Helen Zigmond, The Canadian Jewish Chronicle, Aug. 11, 1944]

In playing twins, Danny said that on one particular day he changed clothes 21 times, going back and forth between Buzzy Bellew's costume and Edwin Dingle's! (July 22, 1944)

From this October 26, 1944 article: "There has to be a voice to match each, and to keep the twins from exchanging voices, Danny has made recordings of what he considers the ideal voice for each. Every time he switches characters, which he does quite often, Danny listens to the required recording. It’s foolproof."

Here's an interesting, brief article:

HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 30—California’s recent heat wave, in which the thermometer climbed to an official 104 despite the protests of Chambers of Commerce, found Danny Kaye the most miserable person in Hollywood.

Making midwinter scenes for “The Wonder Man” at Samuel Goldwyn Studios, Danny spent a whole day walking a treadmill for trick shots while wearing an overcoat, muffler, ear muffs, overshoes and gloves. It was supposed to be a cold New York day but actually the temperature inside the huge sound stage was close to 100.

To make matters worse, Danny was surrounded by mounds of snow and ice—all synthetic.
[From: “Heat Wave! And Kaye Sweats In an Overcoat!”, The Pittsburgh Press, Oct. 1, 1944]

**This particular scene seems to have been cut from the movie. As it stands, Wonder Man does not have snow scenes in it. Seems like all that hot work was for nothing. Poor Danny!

The Kid From Brooklyn (1946)

He spent many weeks with a boxing trainer, Johnny Indrisano, for The Kid From Brooklyn. According to the article, "[...] Danny had to learn to box well before he could do it with true awkwardness [...]" (August 18, 1945)

Danny was the one responsible for getting Eve Arden a role in the movie. He suggested her for the movie, and Danny got his wish. Eve Arden was signed on to play the role of Ann. (Aug. 15, 1945)

The scene of Burleigh's first fight cost as least $150,000. Not only was the regular cast and crew involved, but Samuel Goldwyn hired 700 extras (who were paid anywhere from $7.50 to $25 a day) to sit eight hours a day for eight days as audience members for the fight scene. (January 29, 1946)

There apparently was supposed to have been a scene in the movie where Danny's character, Burleigh Sullivan, enters a hotel lobby with a lion and the crowd runs away screaming in fright. However, on the day of filming, the lion broke loose from its chain. Naturally everybody's first reaction was to run screaming, but the trainer yelled, "Don't move!" When everybody froze, this subdued the lion and the situation was taken under control. However, Danny clearly had no desire to film with that lion, and the scene was never shot. When the director asked if Danny would like to try the scene, he replied, “No. I am not going to impose my attentions where they are obviously not welcome.” (September 23, 1945, January 14, 1946)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)

Danny had a practice golf-driving range installed on the set (April 1946)

After Boris Karloff remarked that his dressing room on set was too bare, Danny, during Karloff's absence, hung more than 50 portraits of Karloff in horror makeup (August 1946)

For the Southern gambler daydream sequence, the scene required a sleight-of-hand artist, someone who could be filmed stacking the deck in a close-up. The stand-in gambler that they got "fumbled with stage fright" each time the camera rolled. He "dropped the cards and went to pieces. From the sidelines, Danny casually walked over, picked up the deck and asked, 'Here, let me see if I can do it.' The cameras began to roll. Danny stacked the deck so expertly that no retake was necessary--and no one would play cards with him for weeks later." (The Danny Kaye Story pg 142)

A Song Is Born (1948)

The movie was originally going to be titled "That's Life" (June 6, 1947)

Danny chose Lionel Hampton to be in the movie: “Hampton is my choice after an exhaustive search for an orchestra leader who would best fit into my picture.” (June 14, 1947)

According to a July 6, 1947 article, Danny apparently tried to get Georgia Gibbs a role in the movie. [Obviously that didn't work out since she is not in the movie. - J.N. webmistress] ["Hollywood Gadabout," The Milwaukee Journal, July 6, 1947]

Apparently some people kept trying to break onto the set. When the studio investigated they discovered the people were song pluggers trying to get on set to see Benny Goodman, not Danny. (July 4, 1947)

The Inspector General (1949)

The scene where Georgi (pretending to be the Inspector General) sits down to his first meal in 2 days and "pigs out" was a complete improv on Danny's part:

From this March 1, 1951 article: "In 'The Inspector General' he persuaded director Henry Koster to let the cameras roll while he sat down and ate a whole meal, giving an impersonation of a single-minded glutton at work. It’s in the picture."

From November 15, 1948: “I’ve been entertaining my friends for years,” Kaye said, “with a satire on the busy eater. You know, the guy who concentrates like a hog on four different dishes at the same time and stuffs his face with food, never listening to the conversation. You’ve seen thousands of them in restaurants. So have I. Well, no one thought that four minutes of straight eating would be funny in a picture. But I talked them into letting the camera roll until I finished a whole meal – and it’s in the picture.”

From this September 11, 1948 article: "Not even Warner Bros. can get Kaye to do the same thing twice, a calamity which completely disorganized movie-making routine. Singers are supposed to record first, then go through the motions in front of the cameras. Since Kaye never went through prescribed motions, the desperate Warners were forced to make “Happy Times” the simple way, taking the pictures while he sang. They got a new uni-directional microphone to do the job. It doesn’t hear anything on the stage except Kaye."

The new uni-directional microphone (see above) allowed Danny to sing and film at the same time. And because the microphone doesn't pick up any background noise, it allowed his wife, Sylvia, to play the accompaniment on the set while Danny filmed. The orchestra later recorded the background music for the film. (see: December 20, 1948)

"The Gypsy Drinking Song" provides a classic example of how Danny would divide up an audience into 3 sections and give each section a sound to make -- zumms, schtuck-schtucks, and ha-ha-ha's. This is something he did at many of his live performances. (April 20, 1963)

Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

Hans Christian Andersen cost $4 million to produce. (August 1952, October 1952) Some of the costs are listed below:

Samuel Goldwyn spent $14,500 on ballet shoes. The reason: Each ballet dancer wore out at least one pair of dancing shoes per day. The company rehearsed more than 90 days, and the shoes cost $10 a pair. (August 1952)

Jeanmaire sprained her ankle and production was suspended for five days costing the studio $30,000. (August 1952)

Eight-year-old Peter Votrian, who played Lars, had to have his head shaved for the movie costing the studio $1,000. (August 1952)

The version of the script was written in 1937 and was improved upon by various writers over the years until Moss Hart wrote the final version in 1951. (August 1952)

Knock on Wood (1954)

"For a key comic ballet sequence in his latest, 'Knock on Wood,' he fell and sprained his left ankle, was kicked in the head by a ballerina and pulled a muscle in his right leg—all in one day!" (March 19, 1954)

Interesting snippet from the article "Filmdom Chatter Box," Toledo Blade, Nov. 12, 1953:

HOLLYWOOD, Nov. 12 – Danny Kaye, in checking his production records of his independent production of “Knock on Wood,” has come up with a total of 85 separate sets used while the picture was rolling before the cameras. The sets, ranging from the interior of an airliner to the huge lobby of a Swiss hotel, represented the largest number ever used in a film in Hollywood

The music for the chase scene near the end of the movie was also used in The Court Jester for the sword fight between Danny and Basil Rathbone.

Danny did the following line of dialogue perfectly in one take: “There’s Brodnik and Gromek and Brutchik and Shaslik. And Gromek got it from Brodnik and gave it to Shaslik, who brought it to Brutchik. The stuff was in Clarence, but also in Terence but they didn’t know Clarence from Terence, or Terence from Clarence, so Gromek killed Shaslik—the first Shaslik. The second Shaslik got Papinek.” (May 7, 1953)

White Christmas (1954)

Fred Astaire and Donald O'Connor were the first choices for the role of Phil Davis. When both of them were unable to do the role, Danny stepped in.

When Danny was given the proposition of replacing Donald O'Connor, he already had scheduled appearances, the cost, of which, to break would be too much money. When asked "how much" Danny requested $250,000 for the part and a 10% of the film's net profits. Both Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby gave up 5% of their earnings from the net profit in order to get Danny on board for "White Christmas." (September 15, 1953)

During the filming of Danny and Bing parodying the song "Sisters," Bing actually did break out in laughter at Danny's antics. Michael Curtiz, the director, wisely kept that take in the film as it was such a wonderful moment between Danny and Bing. (Special features on the White Christmas DVD)

According to an October 22, 1953 article: Danny sang tenor "instead of his normal baritone" and Bing lowered "his singing for better voice separation."

Bing considered Danny "the world's greatest performer." (December 4, 1954)

The Court Jester (1956)

According to Life magazine, The Court Jester was the most expensive comedy at that time with a cost of $4 million. (January 30, 1956)

Norman Panama and Melvin Frank wrote and rewrote the screenplay for more than a year before they accomplished the finished product. Upon reading the finished product, Danny said it was one of the funniest scripts to come out of Hollywood. (December 10, 1954)

Several of Paramount's largest stages were used for the movie. (December 10, 1954)

Danny Kaye: "I trained with a man called Ralph Faulkner. And we got to do a routine at a speed that Basil Rathbone, who was supposed to fence with me, couldn't do it at that speed because Faulkner and I were just going like crazy. And finally I had to do it with Faulkner himself, who dressed up as the character of Basil Rathbone and we did that fencing bit." (Quote from A Legacy of Laughter)

"While he learned the ancient art of self-defense with agility and speed, there arose at the school a new slogan, 'Slash and Slay with Danny Kaye' [...]." Apparently he also acquired the nickname of "Fency Dan." (The Danny Kaye Story pg 187)

During the sword fight, Danny's injuries included: a slight concussion from a fall, a wrenched thumb, and a torn fingernail. (The Danny Kaye Story pg 187)

Quote from Michael Pate (Sir Locksley): “I remember Basil Rathbone having his whole wig cut right up the middle by Danny Kaye on The Court Jester [1956]; Danny did a couple of leaps forward unexpectedly and bounced the epee right off Basil’s forehead, right through to the back of his head. It cut straight through his wig and into his pate, as a matter of fact! I don’t remember whether there were stitches but there was quite a lot of blood where the epee grazed the top of his head.” [Weaver, Tom. It Came From Horrorwood. McFarland, 2004.](pg 197)

The suit of armor Danny wore weighed 175 pounds. (From December 24, 1955 and February 20, 1955)

Took an hour or two to get Danny into the suit of armor and about the same time to get him out of it. (From December 24, 1955 and February 20, 1955)

One particular day on set, the chief armorer, the man responsible for getting Danny into the suit of armor, was sent home sick. After the day's shooting was over and the rest of the cast and crew had gone home, Danny was stuck in the suit with no chief armorer to get him out. After an hour, a studio metal worker was finally found with some cold chisels to get Danny out. (From December 24, 1955 and February 20, 1955)

Danny almost decided not to do The Court Jester because he wanted a comfortable suit of armor. Edith Head, the costume designer, was not so sure a suit of armor could include "comfort," but she was able to entice Danny into wearing a suit made with flexible aluminum. (From September 18, 1959)

The music for the sword fight scene between Danny and Basil Rathbone was also used in Knock on Wood

Merry Andrew (1958)

Danny wore a costume made entirely of rubber and when it was inflated it expanded to three feet in circumference at the widest point (July 31, 1957)

The Five Pennies (1959)

According to a December 8, 1958 article: Danny said that his 11-year-old daughter, Dena, made a brief appearance in the movie, The Five Pennies. “'And she has only one line which will make her self-supporting for a couple of months,' the popular laugh-getter revealed."

On the Double (1961)

Danny wore 27 different costumes during the course of the movie (May 1961)

The Man From The Diner's Club (1963)

According to one article, nearly 70,000 cards flew out of the machine at Danny. Frank Tashlin, the director, wanted to get the scene in one take because he said, "It takes four men 12 hours to put all those cards back into place." (August 1962)

Movie Trivia

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