Born in Mile End Road in the East End of London to Jewish parents Koppel and Dora Kodeish, Kaye was so small at birth that he was not expected to live. As a schoolboy he appeared in amateur revues and shows at his school, making his professional debut at the Mile End Empire in 1935. On the outbreak of the Second World War Kaye tried to join up but was turned down due to his short stature. Instead, he spent the war years entertaining troops at RAF bases, munitions factories and Army camps as well as on BBC radio.
Following the war the 4' 11" tall Kaye toured in his own revues with his then agent Joe Collins, the father of Jackie and Joan Collins in a partnership which lasted for more than thirty years. He played Benny Southstreet in the original 1953 London production of Guys and Dolls at the London Coliseum, and played five different characters in the 1961 Wolf Mankowitz musical Belle (based on the case of Dr Crippen) at the Strand Theatre.
From 1954 to 1968 Kaye presented a new show each month at London's Embassy Club. He also starred in Androcles and the Lion and The Bishop's Bonfire at the Mermaid Theatre and appeared in many films including The Wrong Arm of the Law, The Biggest Bundle of Them All, The Pot Carriers, Crooks in Cloisters, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Alice in Wonderland, Carry On Cowboy, Carry on Regardless, Carry On at Your Convenience, A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square, The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins and many more. On television he appeared in Sapphire and Steel. He also appeared in pantomime. Kaye's last British television appearance was on the Barrymore Show where he performed his famous One Man Band act.
In 1985 the Variety Club of Great Britain gave a lunch for Kaye at London's Hilton Hotel in celebration of his 50 years in show business. Noted for his charity work, over the years Kaye raised more than one million pounds for a number of charities, including the Bud Flanagan Leukaemia Fund, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, the Prince Philip Trust Fund, the Nightingale House home for elderly Jews and the Ealing Jewish Youth Club.
He is the father of entertainers Kaplan Kaye and Melody Kaye.
- Kaye on the Grand Order of Water Rats website
- Kaye on the Internet Movie Database website
- Kaye on the DigiGuide Library
- Kaye on Yahoo! Movies