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Danny Kaye: Life is a Great Big Canvas

Updated on October 30, 2016
"Life is a Canvas, Thow All the Paint You Can at it"  ~ Danny Kaye
"Life is a Canvas, Thow All the Paint You Can at it" ~ Danny Kaye
"I became an entertainer not because I wanted to, but because I was meant to" ~Danny Kaye
"I became an entertainer not because I wanted to, but because I was meant to" ~Danny Kaye | Source

Hans Christian Andersen

The most celebrated actor, singer, dancer, and comedian in the history of entertainment is best known for his physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and rapid-fire nonsense songs.

I have been a huge fan of Danny Kaye ever since I watched him in the celebrated biography, “Hans Christen Anderson.”

I don’t ever recall watching an actor who could actually do it all; sing, dance, act, and play the comedian to its fullest until I saw Danny Kaye.

His perfect pitch allowed his voice to reach new directions every time he performed. He was always pushing his limits and accomplished what he set out to do.

His face and red hair was a definite icon of his era. You knew it was Kaye when you saw him on the big screen. That boisterous laugh that could take you to the top of the mountains could be heard for miles. His childish giggle was infectious and once he started, you were sucked up right along with him.

Kaye had a boyish charm that could melt your heart. Every role he played, from a storyteller to a court jester displayed his charm and talent through and through. He was perfect for the role of Hans Christian Anderson as he personified what the storyteller himself would be. He loved children and had the capability of the Pied Piper himself to lead them where he wanted.

Kaye and Ellen

My favorite Danny Kaye movie would be the iconic movie of the holiday season, “White Christmas.” Not because of the storyline itself, but because of the dance and song numbers that were carried throughout the movie by Kaye and Actress co-star Vera Ellen. The two of them were unstoppable. The dance sequence for “The Best Things happen while You’re Dancing” is unmatched even today. The chemistry between Kaye and Ellen were adorable.

The Court Jester

There is one more movie I have always loved watching when I needed a “feel good” movie, “The Court Jester”, which is about a hapless carnival performer who masquerades as the court jester as part of a plot against an evil ruler who has overthrown the rightful king.

The swordfight alone steals the show. The acrobatic flair in which Kaye was able to jump and leap from tables to pillars, etc. were amazing to watch. Keeping in mind that back in “those days”, the actors were actually dancing and 95% of the time did not have stunt doubles.

Kaye would fall in and out of hypnosis during the scene being a frighten little mouse with no clues how to hold a sword to the fearless Giacomo who could sword fight while drinking from his challis and never spilling a drop!

THe Danny Kaye Show
THe Danny Kaye Show

The Danny Kaye Show

Stepping away from the “big screen” and onto the small box of television reminds me of the time watching the “Danny Kaye Show” at the ripe old age of 7 and remembering how much I used to laugh with Kaye and one of his famous co-stars by the name of Lucille Ball. One of the musical sequences with Kaye and Ball was called “The Balloonist.” It is definitely as corny as they come, but the expressions of Kaye and Ball are priceless. It is another prime example of the unmatchable talent of Kaye.

The Legendary Danny Kaye
The Legendary Danny Kaye

A Lengedary Icon

Danny Kaye also had a very serious side to him as well as a generous heart. He dedicated his life off screen to the UNICEF foundation with unlimited fundraisers. As an accomplished pilot, Kaye flew his own Learjet 24 to 65 cities in 5 days to help raise money for UNICEF.

Before his death in 1987, Danny Kaye demonstrated his ability to conduct an orchestra during a series of comical concerts organized for UNICEF fundraising.

With touching only a minuscule of Danny Kaye’s life, this extraordinary man’s career was extensive in the industry. His legendary wit, comedic value, his perfect pitch, and his supreme dancing and acting abilities would be celebrated throughout his life, beyond his life and handed down from generation to generation through the example of what it means to be the “best of the best.”




March Challenge #5 of 30

What do you remember?

What is your favorite Danny Kaye film?

See results

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    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      Hi Wayne. It sounds really familiar. I have been searching for anything that may come up with Danny Kaye and a story regarding a little mouse, but I haven't found anything thus far. If you find any info, I would sure like to know myself. My brain wants me to believe it might have been a story from the movie, Hans Christian Andersen, but the only thing "small or little" is the "Little Mermaid and Inchworm." What a great question! Thanks!

    • profile image

      wayne 6 years ago

      can any body remember a danny kay story about a little mouse

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      I agree Audrey, I never see his movies anymore, with the exception of White Christmas during the holidays. He was truly an amazing man! :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 6 years ago from California

      I loved watching him when I was little--it is difficult to find his movies on tv these days--but what a funny, funny man with a huge heart--

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      Thank you Trish! you are correct about Kaye been a bit over the top, however, that was his main objective. His facial expressions and boistrous laugh and voice took him places where know one could touch! Thanks for the visit! Have a great day! :)

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      Very enjoyable hub!

      Danny Kaye was a big favourite in our home, so my memories of him go way back into my early childhood.

      I liked him and certainly recognised his talent ~ but sometimes I found that he could just be a bit too much.

      Loved 'White Christmas', though, and one of my Mum's favourite songs is 'Civilisation'. I don't suppose that it would be considered very pc nowadays. :)

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      Thank you vocalcoach! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for the support! :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Great tribute to a great entertainer. "Hans Christian Anderson" is one of my favorite Danny Kaye films. Thanks for a walk down memory lane, Rusticliving. Voted way up and sharing!

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      Thank you Debbie! White Christmas seems to be the trend. If you've never seen it, let me turn you on to "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", it's really good! Have a great day!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I always loved Danny Kaye what a great hub...I remember him in so many movies but my favorite is White Christmas..

      voted up

      Debbie

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      That's the perfect way to describe him HSB! How he could say so much without saying a word! Thanks so much. I'm happy you enjoyed it! :)

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      That's awesome Cogerson! I will definitely do the same. I hadn't seen yours, but will make a point to go read it! great minds, huh? :)

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      Oooo Walter Smitty was so good! It really shows off his talent of many expressions. I think this was one of his best films. Thanks for the support Susan!! :)

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      Thank you so much Susan. I watch White Christmas every year. It has become a tradition in our home. :)

    • Rusticliving profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      Thankyou Audra. He is one of my all time favorites because he was so multi-talented. I'm happy you enjoyed it!

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      What a great hub! so glad that I saw this one first thjng this morning. You made my day as I rush off into it. I think he was a wonderful actor and his face was so very expressive - he often said much without speaking a word.

    • Cogerson profile image

      UltimateMovieRankings 6 years ago from Virginia

      Excellent hub on one of the best performers ever...I am linking your Kaye hub to my Kaye hub as they go together very well....voted up and awesome.

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      I love THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY - all those daydreams/fantasies clearly seen in Kayes face when he switched roles. This is another GREAT HUB!! :-) Votes and shares!! :-)

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      White Christmas is my all time favorite holiday movie to watch. How can you go wrong with both Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby. Enjoyed your hub. Up and awesome!

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 6 years ago

      Wow! I never thought I would see a hub on Danny Kaye!!! I used to watch him in my childhood! Brings back good memories!

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