DANNY KAYE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: David Daniel Kaminsky                                                               
Born: 18 January 1913 Brooklyn, New York, U.S.                                           
Died: 3 March 1987 Los Angeles, California, U.S.                                         
David Daniel Kaminsky, known as Danny Kaye (January 18, 1913 – March 3, 1987)           
was an American actor, singer and comedian who won Academy and Golden Globe               
Born in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, Kaye became one of the world's       
best-known comedians. He spent his early youth attending PS 149 in East New York,         
Brooklyn, before moving to Thomas Jefferson High School, but he never graduated.         
He learned his trade in his teen years in the Catskills as a tummler in the               
Borscht Belt.                                                                             
Danny Kaye made his film debut in a 1935 comedy short entitled Moon Over                 
Manhattan. In 1937 he signed with New York-based Educational Pictures for a               
series of two-reel comedies. Kaye usually played a manic, dark-haired, fast-talking       
Russian in these low-budget shorts, opposite young hopefuls June Allyson or               
Imogene Coca. The Kaye series ended abruptly when the studio shut down                   
permanently in 1938.                                                                     
Kaye scored a personal triumph in 1941, in the hit Broadway comedy Lady in the           
Dark. His show-stopping number was "Tchaikovsky," by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin,         
in which he sang the names of a whole string of Russian composers at breakneck           
speed, seemingly without taking a breath.                                                 
His feature film debut was in producer Samuel Goldwyn's Technicolor 1944 comedy           
Up in Arms, a remake of Goldwyn's Eddie Cantor comedy Whoopee! (1930). Goldwyn           
agonized over Kaye's ethnic, Borscht-belt looks and ordered him to undergo a             
nose job. Kaye refused, and Goldwyn found another way to brighten Kaye's dark             
features by lightening his hair, giving him his trademark redheaded locks. Kaye's         
rubber face and fast patter were an instant hit, and rival producer Robert M.             
Savini cashed in almost immediately by compiling three of Kaye's old Educational         
Pictures shorts into a makeshift feature, The Birth of a Star (1945).                     
Kaye starred in several movies with actress Virginia Mayo in the 1940s, and is           
well known for his roles in films such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947),         
The Inspector General (1949), On the Riviera (1951) co-starring Gene Tierney,             
White Christmas (1954, in a role originally intended for Fred Astaire, then               
Donald O'Connor), Knock on Wood (1954), The Court Jester (1956), and Merry               
Andrew (1958). Kaye starred in two pictures based on biographies, Hans Christian         
Andersen (1952) about the Danish story-teller, and The Five Pennies (1959) about         
jazz pioneer Red Nichols. His wife, Sylvia Fine, wrote many of the witty, tongue-twisting 
songs Danny Kaye became famous for. Some of Kaye's films included the theme of           
doubles, two people who look identical (both played by Danny Kaye) being                 
mistaken for each other, to comic effect.                                                 
According to a series of memos released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation           
under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI investigated a rumor that Kaye             
dodged the draft during World War II. Allegedly, Kaye faked a medical condition           
in order to gain 4-F status and exemption from military service. However, these           
accusations were never proven, and though the FBI maintained a file on Kaye's             
connections to supposed Communist groups, he was never prosecuted.