This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Danny Kaye (1913-87)

David Daniel Kaminski was born January 18, 1913, in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of Jacob Kaminsky (yes, the spelling was different) and his wife, the former Clara Nemerov. With their sons, Mack and Larry, they emigrated from the Ukraine to the United States in 1910. For school, he attended P.S. 149 in Brooklyn before going on to Thomas Jefferson High School also in Brooklyn, but he never even finished the first year, leaving at the age of 13.

At that time, Danny became a tummler, which is Yiddish for master of ceremonies at Jewish resorts in the Katskill Mountains of Pennsylvania. Danny would do many other things and, as it can be seen from the program on the right, he experimented with different names. He did many other jobs that had nothing to do with entertainment.

In 1935 he acted in some shorts for Educational Films, usually as a Russian musician acting with future stars June Allyson and Imogene Coca (his contract actually began in 1936). Sadly that division of 20th Century-Fox shut down in 1938 which meant the end of Danny's film career, at least for six years.

Danny premiered on Broadway in 1941 in a show called, Lady in the Dark. He stopped the show with a tongue twisting song called Tchaikovsky. It was written by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin.

He began doing some experimental radio programs in 1940. He starred in his own program beginning in 1945, about a year after his "big break" in motion pictures. Also in 1940, he married a young pianist by the name of Sylvia Fine (1913-91). They remained married until his death in 1987. They had a daughter, named Dena who was born in 1946.

Danny is best known for his movie career which included such films at The Court Jester, The Inspector General, and started out with Up in Arms.

In the 1950s, he wrote for Mad Magazine. In the 1960s he had his own variety show. Toward the end of his life, he appeared in a number of comedy shows and was lauded for a dramatic film called Skokie.
He was a life long Democrat and active with UNICEF and also owned a baseball team in Seattle.

Danny Kaye died March 3, 1987, at the age of 74 in Los Angeles of hepatitis.


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