It has been said that everyone loves a clown. Those crazy characters do the silliest of things to make you laugh, often making themselves the butt of the joke to succeed in their quest. Clowns are always upbeat and spreading boundless cheer wherever they are which, in their own way, make the world a better place. They kick off the fun by livening up parties and other events, better than any DJ or celebrity host. In more serious situations, they regularly visit with ill and terminally sick children in hospitals to encourage youngsters who may have lost all hope. Their permanent smiles bring us joy as well as empathy; emotions that are universally felt and understood.
Hollywood always had a soft spot for clown-like performers. In the days of Silent Film, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton treated audiences to spectacular gags and stunts. When talkies came into fashion, entertainers like The Marx Brothers and Abbott & Costello made sarcasm an art with endless, side-splitting one-liners. They paved the way for Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Red Skelton, Jerry Lewis, and many other physical/slapstick comedians to make names for themselves in Tinseltown. The majority of these men had backgrounds in Vaudeville and were able to easily transfer their acts from the stage to the screen.
Such was the case with a certain fella named David Daniel Kaminsky. Born in New York City on 18 January 1911, Kaminsky was the son of Jewish immigrants who moved to the United States from the Russian Empire. He had an itch for entertaining from a very young age, which included dancing, singing, and telling jokes. When he left home before even finishing high school, these talents became the assets that would eventually make him a household name. In 1933, Kaminsky decided to adopt a stage name: Danny Kaye.
Mainstream success did not come immediately to the young Danny Kaye although he worked ardently throughout his 20s to make a name for himself. It was not until 1943, when he was 32 years old, that Danny was signed to a film contract with Samuel Goldwyn Productions. His first film was 1944’s Up In Arms opposite fellow Goldwyn player Dana Andrews. From the very beginning, it was clear to the public that Danny was not only hilariously funny but also a genuine all-around talent. Their reception of him was a far cry from Samuel Goldwyn’s initial feelings about his newfound protégé, as spoken by Danny himself:
The first three things Sam Goldwyn said about me in a group of people was: “We have to be very careful how we handle this boy because he’s not good-looking, he can’t act, and he has no sex appeal.”
Reading such a statement is hard to believe but Goldwyn, a known stickler, did not easily take chances. Luckily for him, “Goldfish” had a pretty fair sense of judgement when it came to spotting talent. I am forever grateful to him for introducing the world to one of the most lovable, endearing clowns to ever grace the silver screen.
The purpose of this blogathon is to celebrate the life and legacy of Danny Kaye. It is scheduled to take place from 3 – 5 March 2023, which will mark the 36th anniversary of Danny’s death on 3 March 1987.
You are invited to write about any number of things in Danny’s life:
- His feature films
- His television programme “The Danny Kaye Show”
- His guest appearances on other television shows
- His humanitarian work as UNICEF’s very first Goodwill Ambassador to children
- His impact on Hollywood, comedy … or even in your own life
- His partnership with wife Sylvia Fine
The possibilities are endless! 😊
Here are the rules of the blogathon:
- If you wish to participate, let me know the topic of your choice either on this page or by contacting me on Twitter.
- Duplicates are allowed but are limited to only 2 of the same film/topic.
- Previously published articles are more than welcome, as long as it is noted in the title or text or your work. (Example: “Revisiting White Christmas”, “Rewind Review: The Court Jester”, etc.)
- Submit your contribution any time you wish before, during, or even after the event, as it is most convenient for you.
- Have fun!
You are invited to take a banner and to spread the word about The Danny Kaye Blogathon!
Thank you in advance for your participation and support!
Film(s) already claimed twice:
The Kid from Brooklyn (1946)
Up In Arms (1944)
Poppity Talks Classic Film: The Kid from Brooklyn (1946)
Realweegiemidget Reviews: Peter Pan (TV, 1976)
Taking Up Room: Up in Arms (1944)
Classic Film and TV Corner: Tribute to Danny
The Stop Button: On the Riviera (1951)
Hamlette’s Soliloquy: A Song is Born (1948)
Whimsically Classic: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)
Musings of an Introvert: The Kid from Brooklyn (1946)
Thoughts All Sorts: Up in Arms (1944)
Guest posts by my 17-year-old twins:
Léonce: Hans Christian Andersen (1952)
Honorine: Danny in White Christmas (1954), my favourite Paramount film.