BY HOWARD ARKIN
On Thursday, September 12, the North
Shore Towers Men’s Club was treated
to an informative discussion about comedian
Danny Kaye. Led by guest speaker Mr.
Sal St. George, we learned a great deal about
the life and times of one of the 20th century’s
most talented comedians.
Danny Kaye was born in Brooklyn in 1911,
the son of Russian immigrants Clara and Jacob
Kaminsky. His formal education was limited to
his attending Public School 149 and a limited
stay at Thomas Jefferson High School.
Danny’s path led him to the “borscht belt”
(the Catskills Mountains) where he honed his
natural talents. His brilliance in both comedy
as well as in singing and dancing made him one
of the most versatile entertainers of all time.
There are few entertainers even today that are
as multi-talented as he was.
1939 and 1940 would prove to be watershed
years in his career. In 1939, he made
his Broadway debut in the musical Straw
Hat Review. Moss Hart, one of the most
renowned Broadway producers of that era,
was so impressed with his performance that he
signed him to appear in his 1940 hit, Lady in
the Dark. It was also in 1940 that he married
Sylvia Fine, a woman he had known from his
childhood in Brooklyn. They would share a
forty-seven year marriage, and Sylvia would
have a great influence on Danny’s career. She
would serve as both a writer as well as a manager
for his many other business affairs.
In the early 1940s during a trip to New York,
Samuel Goldwyn’s wife saw Danny performing
at a night club. She was so impressed with his
act that she called her husband in Hollywood.
This would begin the most successful phase
of his career. Danny Kaye was going to make
movies, eventually filming seventeen of them
during his lifetime. The two films that stand
out most to me are The Court Jester and The
Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The Court Jester
contains what I believe to be one of Danny’s
funniest bits in the famous “pellet with the
poisons” routine. I don’t think that I can do
justice to it by trying to describe it. If available
to you, you can see it on YouTube. Just type in
“Danny Kaye Court Jester” and enjoy!
Samuel Goldwyn did, however, make two
requests of Danny before signing him to his
film contract. The first was to have his nose
fixed. The second was to have his hair dyed
blond. Danny agreed to the hair but not the
nose. As it turned out, they would both live
out the remainder of their lives, Danny with
what Goldwyn called his “Jewish nose,” and
Goldwyn with his heavy “Jewish accent.”
Danny even managed to get some notoriety
during the 1947 World Series in Brooklyn.
During the 1947 season there was an advertisement
for the movie The Secret Life of
Walter Mitty on the right field wall at Ebbets
Field. A Dodger player by the name of Cookie
Lavagetto hit a double off of that sign to win
the fourth game of the series for the Dodgers.
This brought untold joy to me, and probably to
Danny as well! Sadly, this joy would be short
lived as the Yankees would once again prevail
and take the series.
Danny’s later career was primarily in the
world of television. The Danny Kaye Show
ran from 1963 to 1967. Mr. St. George showed
us three clips from the show. One was with
Danny and Harry Belafonte performing a
hilarious calypso skit, another with Buddy
Ebsen, Howard Morris and Danny showing
off their superior dancing skills, and the third
the famous “pellet in the poisons” routine.
Danny Kaye was multifaceted in his personal
life as well. He was a true renaissance man: He
was a philanthropist and the winner of many
humanitarian awards through his work with
UNICEF. He flew planes as a hobby and was
an accomplished chef, Chinese cuisine being
his specialty. At one time he was even a part
owner of the Seattle Mariners baseball team.
Mr. St. George covered his subject very well
and we hope to have him back again soon.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
- OCTOBER 2019
• Breakfast at Buffy's every Tuesday,
Wednesday and Friday at 9am
• Wednesday, October 2, 9:30am - Events
Committee Meeting at Buffy's
• Thursday, October 10, 7:30pm - Men's
Club Meeting, Large Card Room, Building 2
'Karaoke Night' with host Russell Craig.
Guests are invited when accompanied by a
member for a fee of $5 payable at the door.
Coffee and cake will be available.
• Sunday, October 13, 11am - FREE buffet
brunch at the Towers Ballroom for members
who have paid their 2020 dues. $25 for guests
when accompanied by a member. Member
must be preregistered.
• Monday October 14, 10:30am - Current
Events in the Coleridge Lounge
• Tuesday, October 15, 12:15pm - Members
Only 'Hibachi Lunch' at Sushi Ya, 2311 Jericho
Turnpike, New Hyde Park. Watch the chef
prepare your lunch on the hibachi grill which
will include a choice of steak, shrimp, chicken,
salmon and scallops along with soup, salad,
rice and vegetables. $12-$21 per person
depending upon what you order. Individual
• Thursday, October 17, 7pm - Members
Club ‘Movie Night’ in the Coleridge Lounge
Movie TBD by Ron Levin
• Thursday, October 24, 7pm - Member/
Guest dinner at La Baraka, 255-09 Northern
Blvd., Great Neck. Outstanding menu including
choice of lamb chops, duck, steak and
fish for the main course as well as soup salad
coffee and dessert. Also unlimited wine and
soft drinks. Cost is $45 per person including
tax and tip.
• Sunday, October 27, 7:30pm – BINGO in
the Large Card Room in Building 2
• Monday, October 28, 10:30am - Current
Events Discussion in the Coleridge Lounge
Please call Jerry Siegel (347-235-4513) if you
have any questions.
Please call Jerry Siegel
if you have any questions.
The inimitable Danny Kaye
October 2019 ¢ NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER 33