Danny Kaye (born David Daniel Kaminsky; Yiddish: דאַװיד דאַניעל קאַמינסקי; January 18, 1911 – March 3, 1987) was an American actor, singer, dancer, comedian, musician, and philanthropist. His performances featured physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and rapid-fire novelty songs. His films were popular, especially for his performances of patter songs and favorites such as “Inchworm” and “The Ugly Duckling”. He was the first ambassador-at-large of UNICEF in 1954 and received the French Legion of Honour in 1986 for his years of work with the organization.
Kaye most popular films include H. Bruce Humberstone’s Wonder Man (1945), with Virginia Mayo; Norman Z. McLeod’s The Kid from Brooklyn (1946), with Mayo, Vera-Ellen, Steve Cochran, Walter Abel, Eve Arden, and Fay Bainter; McLleod’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), with Mayo, Boris Karloff, Fay Bainter, and Ann Rutherford; Henry Koster‘s The Inspector General (1949), with Walter Slezak, Barbara Bates, and Elsa Lanchester; Charles Vidor‘s Hans Christian Andersen (1952), with Farley Granger and Zizi Jeanmaire; Michael Curtiz‘s White Christmas (1954), with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen; and The Court Jester (1955), with Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury and Cecil Parker.
Other notable films include Walter Lang’s On the Riviera (1951), with Gene Tierney, Corinne Calvet, Marcel Dalio, Henri Letondal, and Sig Ruman; Knock on Wood (1954), with Mai Zetterling, Torin Thatcher, David Burns, and Leon Askin; Michael Kidd’s Merry Andrew (1958), with Pier Angeli, Salvatore Baccaloni, Patricia Cutts, Noel Purcell, and Robert Coote; Peter Glenville’s Me and the Colonel (1958), with Curt Jürgens and Nicole Maurey; Melville Shavelson’s The Five Pennies (1959), with Barbara Bel Geddes, Louis Armstrong, Harry Guardino, Bob Crosby, Bobby Troup, Susan Gordon, and Tuesday Weld; Shavelson’s On the Double (1961), with Dana Wynter, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Margaret Rutherford, and Diana Dors; Frank Tashlin’s The Man from the Diner’s Club (1963), with Cara Williams, Martha Hyer, and Telly Savalas; and Bryan Forbes’s The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969), with Katharine Hepburn, Paul Henreid, Oskar Homolka, Yul Brynner, Richard Chamberlain, Edith Evans, and Donald Pleasence.
Later in Kaye’s career he mainly acted on television, including such TV movies as Pinnochio (1976), with Sandy Duncan and Clive Revill; Peter Pan (1976), with Mia Farrow; and Stokie (1981), with Eli Wallach, Carl Reiner, George Dzundza, Brian Dennehy, and Ed Flanders. He also lent his voice to such animated specials as Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971), with Casey Kasem, Vincent Price, Joan Gardner, Paul Frees, and Iris Rainer; and The Emperor’s New Clothes (1972), with Cyril Ritchard, Imogene Coca, Allen Swift, and Bob McFadden.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Dime a Dance (1937) – directed by Al Christie – short
- Getting an Eyeful (1938) – directed by Al Christie – short
- Cupid Takes a Holiday (1938) – directed by William Watson – short
- Money on Your Life (1938) – directed by William Watson – short
- Autumn Laughter (1938) – directed by Cecil Madden – TV short
- Up in Arms (1944) – directed by Elliott Nugent
- I Am an American (1944) – directed by Crane Wilbur – short – uncredited cameo as himself
- Wonder Man (1945) – directed by H. Bruce Humberstone
- The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) – directed by Norman Z. McLeod
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) – directed by Norman Z. McLeod
- A Song Is Born (1948) – directed by Howard Hawks
- It’s a Great Feeling (1949) – directed by David Butler – uncredited cameo as himself
- Task Force (1949) – directed by Delmar Daves – uncredited
- The Inspector General (1949) – directed by Henry Koster
- On the Riviera (1951) – directed by Walter Lang
- Hans Christian Andersen (1952) – directed by Charles Vidor
- Knock on Wood (1954) – directed by Melvin Frank
- White Christmas (1954)** – directed by Michael Curtiz
- The Court Jester (1956) – directed by Melvin Frank
- Merry Andrew (1958) – directed by Michael Kidd
- Me and the Colonel (1958) – directed by Peter Glenville
- The Five Pennies (1959) – directed by Melville Shavelson
- On the Double (1961) – directed by Melville Shavelson
- The Man from the Diners’ Club (1963) – directed by Frank Tashlin
- The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) – directed by Bryan Forbes
- Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971) – directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. & Jules Bass – TV movie
- The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye: The Emperor’s New Clothes (1972) – directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. & Jules Bass – TV movie
- Peter Pan (1976) – directed by Dwight Hemion – TV movie
- Pinnochio (1976) – directed by Ron Field & Sid Smith – TV movie
- Skokie (1981) – directed by Herbert Wise – TV movie