David Daniel Kaminsky
January 18, 1911
New York City, U.S.
|Died||March 3, 1987 (aged 76)|
Danny Kaye (born David Daniel Kaminsky; Yiddish: דוד־דניאל קאַמינסקי; January 18, 1911 – March 3, 1987) was an American actor, singer, dancer, comedian, musician, philanthropist, and cook. His performances featured physical comedy, idiosyncratic pantomimes, and rapid-fire novelty songs.
Kaye starred in 17 films, notably Wonder Man (1945), The Kid from Brooklyn (1946), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), Hans Christian Andersen (1952), White Christmas (1954), and The Court Jester (1955). His films were popular, especially for his performances of patter songs and favorites such as "Inchworm" and "The Ugly Duckling".
David Daniel Kaminsky was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 18, 1911 (though he would later say 1913), to Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants Jacob and Clara (née Nemerovsky) Kaminsky. He was the youngest of three sons. His parents and older brothers Larry and Mac left Dnipropetrovsk two years before Danny's birth; he was their only son born in the United States.
He attended Public School 149 in East New York, Brooklyn; the school eventually was renamed to honor him—where he began entertaining his classmates with songs and jokes. He attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, but he did not graduate.
His mother died when he was in his early teens. Not long after, Kaye and his friend Louis ran away to Florida. Kaye sang while Louis played the guitar and the pair eked out a living for a while. When Kaye returned to New York, his father did not pressure him to return to school or work, giving his son the chance to mature and discover his own abilities. Kaye said that as a young boy, he had wanted to be a surgeon, but the family could not afford a medical education.
He held a succession of jobs after leaving school, as a soda jerk, auto insurance investigator, and office clerk. Most ended with him being fired. He lost the insurance job when he made an error that cost the insurance company $40,000 ($600,000 in 2019 adjusted for inflation). A dentist who hired him to look after his office over lunch and run errands fired him when he found Kaye using his dental drill on the office woodwork. In 1939, Kaye met the same dentist's daughter, Sylvia Fine, at an audition, and in 1940 they eloped. He learned his trade in his teenage years in the Catskills as a tummler in the Borscht Belt.
Kaye's first break came in 1933 when he joined the Three Terpsichoreans, a vaudeville dance act. They opened in Utica, New York, where he used the stage name Danny Kaye for the first time. The act toured the United States and in Asia with the show La Vie Paree. The troupe left for a six-month tour of Asia on February 8, 1934. During its stay in Osaka, Japan, a typhoon hit the city. The troupe's hotel suffered heavy damage. The strong wind hurled a piece of the hotel's cornice into Kaye's room; had he been hit, he might have been killed. By evening's performance time, the city was in the grip of the storm. With no power, the audience became restless and nervous. To calm them, Kaye went on stage holding a flashlight to illuminate his face and sang every song he could recall as loudly as he was able.
The experience of trying to entertain audiences who did not speak English inspired him to do the pantomime gestures, songs, and facial expressions that eventually made his reputation. Sometimes, he found them necessary when ordering a meal. Kaye's daughter Dena relates a story her father told about being in a restaurant in China and trying to order chicken. Kaye flapped his arms and clucked, giving the waiter an imitation of a chicken. The waiter nodded in understanding, bringing Kaye two eggs. His interest in cooking began on the tour.
Jobs were in short supply when Kaye returned to the United States, and he struggled for bookings. One job was working in a burlesque revue with fan dancer Sally Rand. After the dancer dropped a fan while trying to chase away a fly, Kaye was hired to watch the fans so they were always held in front of her.
In 1937, Kaye's film debut came from a contract with New York–based Educational Pictures for a series of two-reel comedies. He usually played a manic, dark-haired, fast-talking Russian in these low-budget shorts, opposite young hopefuls June Allyson and Imogene Coca. The Kaye series ended abruptly when the studio shut down in 1938. He was working in the Catskills in 1937 under the name Danny Kolbin.
His next venture was a short-lived Broadway show with Sylvia Fine as the pianist, lyricist, and composer. The Straw Hat Revue opened on September 29, 1939, and closed after 10 weeks, but critics took notice of Kaye's work. The reviews brought an offer for both Kaye and his bride Sylvia to work at La Martinique, a New York City nightclub. Kaye performed with Sylvia as his accompanist. At La Martinique, playwright Moss Hart saw Danny perform, and that led to Hart's casting him in his hit Broadway comedy Lady in the Dark.
In 1941, aged 30, Kaye scored a triumph playing Russell Paxton in Lady in the Dark, starring Gertrude Lawrence. His show-stopping number was "Tschaikowsky (and Other Russians)" by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin in which he sang the names of a string of Russian composers at breakneck speed, seemingly without taking a breath. In the next Broadway season, he was the star of a show about a young man who is drafted called Let's Face It!.
His feature film debut was in producer Samuel Goldwyn's Technicolor 1944 comedy Up in Arms, a remake of Goldwyn's Eddie Cantor comedy Whoopee! (1930). Rival producer Robert M. Savini cashed in by compiling three of Kaye's Educational Pictures shorts into a patchwork feature entitled The Birth of a Star (1945). Studio mogul Goldwyn wanted Kaye's prominent nose fixed to look less Jewish; Kaye refused, but he did allow his red hair to be dyed blond, apparently because it looked better in Technicolor.
Kaye starred in a radio program, The Danny Kaye Show, on CBS in 1945–46. The program's popularity rose quickly. Within a year he tied with Jimmy Durante for fifth place in the Radio Daily popularity poll. Kaye was asked to participate in a USO tour following the end of World War II. It meant that he would be absent from his radio show for nearly two months at the beginning of the season. Kaye's friends filled in, with a different guest host each week. Kaye was the first American actor to visit postwar Tokyo. He had toured there some ten years before with the vaudeville troupe. When Kaye asked to be released from his radio contract in mid-1946, he agreed not to accept a regular radio show for one year and only limited guest appearances on other radio programs. Many of the show's episodes survive today, notable for Kaye's opening signature patter ("Git gat gittle, giddle-di-ap, giddle-de-tommy, riddle de biddle de roop, da-reep, fa-san, skeedle de woo-da, fiddle de wada, reep!").
Kaye starred in several movies with actress Virginia Mayo in the 1940s and is known for films such as The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), The Inspector General (1949), On the Riviera (1951) co-starring Gene Tierney, Knock on Wood (1954), White Christmas (1954), The Court Jester (1956), and Merry Andrew (1958). Kaye starred in two pictures based on biographies, Hans Christian Andersen (1952) the Danish storyteller and The Five Pennies (1959) about jazz pioneer Red Nichols. His wife, writer/lyricist Sylvia Fine, wrote many tongue-twisting songs for which Kaye became famous. She was also an associate film producer. Some of Kaye's films included the theme of doubles, two people who look identical (both Danny Kaye) being mistaken for each other to comic effect.
While his wife wrote most of Kaye's material, he created much of it himself, often while performing. Kaye had one character he never shared with the public; Kaplan, the owner of a rubber company, came to life only for family and friends. His wife, Sylvia, described the Kaplan character:
He doesn't have any first name. Even his wife calls him just Kaplan. He's an illiterate, pompous character who advertises his philanthropies. Jack Benny or Dore Schary might say, "Kaplan, why do you hate unions so?" If Danny feels like doing Kaplan that night, he might be off on Kaplan for two hours.
When he appeared at the London Palladium in 1948, he "roused the Royal family to laughter and was the first of many performers who have turned British variety into an American preserve." Life magazine described his reception as "worshipful hysteria" and noted that the royal family, for the first time, left the royal box to watch from the front row of the orchestra. He related that he had no idea of the familial connections when the Marquess of Milford Haven introduced himself after a show and said he would like his cousins to see Kaye perform. Kaye stated he never returned to the venue because there was no way to recreate the magic of that time. Kaye had an invitation to return to London for a Royal Variety Performance in November of the same year. When the invitation arrived, Kaye was busy with The Inspector General (which had a working title of Happy Times). Warner Bros. stopped the film to allow their star to attend. When his Decca co-workers the Andrews Sisters began their engagement at the London Palladium on the heels of Kaye's successful 1948 appearance there, the trio was well received and David Lewin of the Daily Express declared: "The audience gave the Andrews Sisters the Danny Kaye roar!"
He hosted the 24th Academy Awards in 1952. The program was broadcast on radio; telecasts of the Oscar ceremony came later. During the 1950s, Kaye visited Australia, where he played Buttons in a production of Cinderella in Sydney. In 1953, Kaye started a production company, Dena Pictures, named for his daughter. Knock on Wood was the first film produced by his firm. The firm expanded into television in 1960 under the name Belmont Television.
Kaye entered television in 1956, on the CBS show See It Now with Edward R. Murrow. The Secret Life of Danny Kaye combined his 50,000-mile, ten-country tour as UNICEF ambassador with music and humor. His first solo effort was in 1960 with a one-hour special produced by Sylvia and sponsored by General Motors, with similar specials in 1961 and 1962.
Beginning in 1964, he acted as television host to the CBS telecasts of MGM's The Wizard of Oz. Kaye did a stint as a What's My Line? mystery guest on the Sunday-night CBS-TV quiz program. Kaye was later a guest panelist on that show. He also appeared on the interview program Here's Hollywood. In the 1970s, Kaye tore a ligament in his leg during the run of the Richard Rodgers musical Two by Two, but went on with the show, appearing with his leg in a cast and cavorting on stage in a wheelchair. He had done much the same on his television show in 1964, when his right leg and foot were burned from a cooking accident. Camera shots were planned so television viewers did not see Kaye in his wheelchair.
In 1976, he played Geppetto in a television musical adaptation of Pinocchio with Sandy Duncan in the title role. Kaye portrayed Captain Hook opposite Mia Farrow in a musical version of Peter Pan featuring songs by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. He later guest-starred in episodes of The Muppet Show and The Cosby Show, and in the 1980s revival The Twilight Zone.
In many films, as well as on stage, Kaye proved to be an able actor, singer, dancer, and comedian. He showed his serious side as ambassador for UNICEF and in his dramatic role in the memorable TV film Skokie, when he played a Holocaust survivor. Before his death in 1987, Kaye conducted an orchestra during a comical series of concerts organized for UNICEF fundraising. Kaye received two Academy Awards: an Academy Honorary Award in 1955 and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1982. That year he received the Screen Actors Guild Annual Award.
In 1980, Kaye hosted and sang in the 25th anniversary of Disneyland celebration and hosted the opening celebration for Epcot in 1982 (EPCOT Center at the time). Both were aired on primetime television in the U.S.
Career in music
While Kaye claimed he could not read music, he was said to have perfect pitch. A flamboyant performer with his own distinctive style, "easily adapting from outrageous novelty songs to tender ballads" (according to critic Jason Ankeny), in 1945 Kaye began hosting his own CBS radio program, launching a number of hit songs including "Dinah" and "Minnie the Moocher".
In 1947, Kaye teamed with the Andrews Sisters (Patty, Maxene, and LaVerne) on Decca Records, producing the number three Billboard hit "Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)". The success of the pairing prompted both acts to record through 1950, producing rhythmically comical fare as "The Woody Woodpecker Song" (based on the bird from the Walter Lantz cartoons and a Billboard hit for the quartet), "Put 'em in a Box, Tie 'em with a Ribbon (And Throw 'em in the Deep Blue Sea)", "The Big Brass Band from Brazil", "It's a Quiet Town (In Crossbone County)", "Amelia Cordelia McHugh (Mc Who?)", "Ching-a-ra-sa-sa", and a duet by Danny and Patty Andrews of "Orange Colored Sky". The acts teamed for two yuletide favorites: a frantic, harmonic rendition of "A Merry Christmas at Grandmother's House (Over the River and Through the Woods)" and a duet by Danny and Patty, "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth".
Kaye's debut album, Columbia Presents Danny Kaye, had been released in 1942 by Columbia Records with songs performed to the accompaniment of Maurice Abravanel and Johnny Green. The album was reissued as a Columbia LP in 1949 and is described by the critic Bruce Eder as "a bit tamer than some of the stuff that Kaye hit with later in the '40s and in the '50s and, for reasons best understood by the public, doesn't attract nearly the interest of his kids' records and overt comedy routines".
In 1950, a Decca single, "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts", was released, his sole big U.S. chart hit. His second Columbia LP album Danny Kaye Entertains (1953, Columbia) included five songs recorded in 1941 from his Broadway musical Lady in the Dark, most notably "Tschaikowsky (and Other Russians)".
Following the success of the film Hans Christian Andersen (1952), two of its songs written by Frank Loesser and sung by Kaye, "The Ugly Duckling" and "Wonderful Copenhagen", reached the top five on the UK singles chart. In 1953, Decca released Danny at the Palace, a live recording made at the New York Palace Theater, followed by Knock On Wood (Decca, 1954) a set of songs from the movie of the same name sung by Kaye, accompanied by Victor Young and His Singing Strings.
In 1956, Kaye signed a three-year recording contract with Capitol Records, which released his single "Love Me Do" in December of that year. The B-side, “"Ciu Ciu Bella", with lyrics written by Sylvia Fine, was inspired by an episode in Rome when Kaye, on a mission for UNICEF, befriended a 7-year-old polio victim in a children's hospital, who sang this song for him in Italian.
In 1958, Saul Chaplin and Johnny Mercer wrote songs for Merry Andrew, a film starring Kaye as a British teacher attracted to the circus. The score added up to six numbers, all sung by Kaye; conductor Billy May's 1950 composition "Bozo's Circus Band" (renamed "Music of the Big Top Circus Band") was deposited on the second side of the Merry Andrew soundtrack, released in 1958. A year later, another soundtrack came out, The Five Pennies (Kaye starred there as 1920s cornet player Loring Red Nichols), featuring Louis Armstrong.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Kaye regularly conducted world-famous orchestras, although he had to learn the scores by ear. Kaye's style, even if accompanied by unpredictable antics (he once traded the baton for a fly swatter to conduct "The Flight of the Bumblebee") was praised by the likes of Zubin Mehta, who once stated that Kaye "has a very efficient conducting style". His ability with an orchestra was mentioned by Dimitri Mitropoulos, then conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. After Kaye's appearance Mitropoulos remarked, "Here is a man who is not musically trained, who cannot even read music and he gets more out of my orchestra than I have." Kaye was invited to conduct symphonies as charity fundraisers and was the conductor of the all-city marching band at the season opener of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1984. Over his career, he raised over US$5 million in support of musician pension funds.
Kaye was sufficiently popular to inspire imitations:
- The 1946 Warner Bros. cartoon Book Revue had a sequence with Daffy Duck wearing a blond wig and impersonating Kaye.
- Satirical songwriter Tom Lehrer's 1953 song "Lobachevsky" was based on a number that Kaye had done, about the Russian director Constantin Stanislavski, with the affected Russian accent. Lehrer mentioned Kaye in an opening monologue, citing him as an "idol since childbirth".
- Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster fashioned a short-lived superhero title, Funnyman, taking inspiration from Kaye's persona.
In his later years, Kaye entertained at home as chef. He specialized in Chinese and Italian cooking. He had a custom-made Chinese restaurant installed at the rear of his house by its alley, then had a kitchen and dining area built around it. The stove that Kaye used for his Chinese dishes was fitted with metal rings for the burners to allow the heat to be highly concentrated, and a trough with circulating ice water cooled the area to keep the intense heat tolerable for those who were cooking. He learned "at Johnny Kan's restaurant in San Francisco and with Cecilia Chang at her Mandarin restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles". He taught Chinese cooking classes at a San Francisco Chinese restaurant in the 1970s. The theatre and demonstration kitchen under the library at the Hyde Park, New York campus of the Culinary Institute of America is named for him.
Kaye referred to his kitchen as "Ying's Thing". While filming The Madwoman of Chaillot in France, he phoned home to ask his family if they would like to eat at Ying's Thing that evening; Kaye flew home for dinner. Not all of his efforts in the kitchen went well. After flying to San Francisco for a recipe for sourdough bread, he came home and spent hours preparing loaves. When his daughter asked about the bread, Kaye hit the bread on the kitchen table; his bread was hard enough to chip it. Kaye approached kitchen work with enthusiasm, making sausages and other foods needed for his cuisine. Though it is often claimed that he was a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF), this is not true, as the MOF is restricted to French professionals. Rather, he had cooked for several famous French chefs at his house (all of them MOFs), and they signed an "honorary" Meilleur Ouvrier de France diploma for him.
Kaye was an aviation enthusiast and pilot. His interest was sparked by his longtime friend, choreographer Michael Kidd, who at the time had recently earned his private pilot's license. Kaye began studying for his own pilot's license in 1959. An enthusiastic and accomplished golfer, he gave up golf in favor of flying. The first plane Kaye owned was a Piper Aztec. Kaye received his first license as a private pilot of multi-engine aircraft, not being certified for operating a single-engine plane until six years later. He was an accomplished pilot, rated for aircraft ranging from single-engine light aircraft to multi-engine jets. Kaye held a commercial pilot's license and had flown every type of aircraft except military planes.
Kaye received a type rating in a Learjet, and he was named vice president of the Learjet company by Bill Lear as an honorary title (he had no line responsibility at the company). He supported many flying projects. In 1968, he was honorary chairman of the Las Vegas International Exposition of Flight, a show that utilized many facets of the city's entertainment industry while presenting an air show. The operational show chairman was well-known aviation figure Lynn Garrison. Kaye flew a Learjet to 65 cities in five days on a mission to help UNICEF.
In 1958, Kaye and partner Lester Smith formed Kaye–Smith Enterprises. The company owned a chain of radio stations, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. Other Kaye–Smith divisions included a concert promotion company, a video production company, and a recording studio. Kaye sold his share of the company to the Smith family in 1985.
A lifelong fan of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, Kaye recorded a song called "The D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song (Oh really? No, O'Malley!)", describing a fictitious encounter with the San Francisco Giants, a hit during the real-life pennant chase of 1962. That song is included on Baseball's Greatest Hits compact discs. A good friend of Leo Durocher, he often traveled with the team. He also possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the game and was an accomplished second baseman.
Kaye and his business partner Lester Smith also led an investment group which was awarded the American League's thirteenth franchise, which became the Seattle Mariners for US$6.2 million on February 7, 1976. The ownership percentages of Kaye, Smith and two other remaining original investors were reduced to 5 percent each when George Argyros purchased 80 percent of the Mariners for $10.4 million on January 30, 1981. Kaye sold all of his business interests to Smith's family in 1985.
Working alongside UNICEF's Halloween fundraiser founder, Ward Simon Kimball Jr., the actor educated the public on impoverished children in deplorable living conditions overseas and assisted in the distribution of donated goods and funds. His involvement with UNICEF came about in an unusual way. Kaye was flying home from London in 1949 when one of the plane's four engines lost its propeller and caught fire. The problem was initially thought serious enough that it might make an ocean landing; life jackets and life rafts were made ready. The plane was able to head back over 500 miles (804.67 km) to land at Shannon Airport, Ireland. On the way back to Shannon, the head of the Children's Fund, Maurice Pate, had the seat next to Danny Kaye and spoke at length about the need for recognition for the fund. Their discussion continued on the flight from Shannon to New York; it was the beginning of the actor's long association with UNICEF.
"For all of his success as a performer (...) his greatest legacy remains his tireless humanitarian work—so close were his ties to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) that when the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize, Kaye was tapped to accept it", according to music critic Jason Ankeny.
Sylvia discovered that Danny had worked for her father Samuel Fine, a dentist. Kaye, working in Florida, proposed on the telephone; the couple were married in Fort Lauderdale on January 3, 1940. The couple were married for life except for a separation in 1947 and 1948, when Kaye was involved with Eve Arden.
The couple's only child, daughter Dena, was born on December 17, 1946. When she was very young, Dena did not like seeing her father perform because she did not understand that people were supposed to laugh at what he did. Kaye said in a 1954 interview, "Whatever she wants to be she will be without interference from her mother nor from me." Dena grew up to become a journalist.
Donald Spoto, the author of Laurence Olivier (Harper Collins), made an unsubstantiated claim that Kaye had a 10-year secret affair with Laurence Olivier. Despite media rumor since that book's publication, no evidence has been published. The English journalist Terry Coleman, who spent four years studying Olivier's archive of letters and memorabilia, could not find evidence of such an affair between Kaye and Olivier. Coleman observed, "I did check it and talked to a number of people. In this mountain of material in the archives I could not find a hint of an affair with Danny Kaye."
On 18 January 2013, during a 24-hour salute to Kaye on Turner Classic Movies in celebration of what TCM thought was his 100th birthday, Kaye's daughter Dena revealed to TCM host Ben Mankiewicz that Kaye's stated birth year of 1913 was incorrect, and that he was actually born in 1911.
Kaye died of heart failure on March 3, 1987, aged 76, brought on by internal bleeding and complications of hepatitis C. Kaye had quadruple bypass heart surgery in February 1983 and he contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion.
Kaye was cremated and his ashes were interred in the foundation of a bench in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. His grave is adorned with a bench that contains friezes of a baseball and bat, an aircraft, a piano, a flower pot, musical notes, and a chef's toque. His name and birth and death dates are inscribed on the toque. The United Nations held a memorial tribute to him at their New York headquarters on the evening of October 21, 1987.
David Koenig reflects, "His legacy has dimmed with the passage of time. His greatest works (...) endure today only as memories in the minds of aging members of his audiences (...) much of his TV work has not aged particularly well. Whimsy was of another time." However, Koenig sees Kaye's film work in a different light, "History has smiled on individual pictures — in particular the holiday staple of White Christmas and The Court Jester... the medieval romp has steadily gained a reputation as one of the greatest comedies of all time."
- Kaye was knighted by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark on November 10, 1983. He was awarded the cross of the Knight of the Dannebrog, 1st Class, for his work with UNICEF and longstanding ties with Denmark. Kaye portrayed Hans Christian Andersen in the 1952 film of the same name.
- Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor on February 24, 1986, for his work for UNICEF.
- On June 23, 1987, Kaye was posthumously presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan. The award was received by his daughter Dena.
- In 1988, Kaye was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
- UNICEF created the Danny Kaye International Children's Award in his honor, a children's European singing competition shown every year between 1988 and 1992 hosted by Audrey Hepburn and Roger Moore.
Awards and other recognition
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy in 1951, for On the Riviera
- Received an honorary Academy Award Oscar in 1955 “for his unique talents, his service to the Academy, the motion picture industry, and the American people”.
- Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy in 1958, for Me and the Colonel
- Lions Clubs International The first recipient of the Lions Clubs International Foundation's Humanitarian Award. (1973–74)
- Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (1981)
- Asteroid 6546 Kaye
- Three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; for his work in music, radio, and films
- Kennedy Center Honor (1984)
- Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade (1984)
- The song “I Wish I Was Danny Kaye” on Miracle Legion’s 1996 album Portrait of a Damaged Family
- UNICEF’s New York Visitor’s Centre is named to honor Danny Kaye.
- In December 1996, the PBS series American Masters aired a special on Kaye’s life.
- A street in the San Antonio, Texas, neighborhood Oak Hills Terrace (located in the city’s northwest) is named after Danny Kaye. The neighborhood was established in the late 1960s.
- The careers of Kaye and Fine are immortalized in The Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Collection at the Library of Congress. The materials preserved in the collection include manuscripts, scores, scripts, photographs, sound recordings, and video clips.
- On June 9, 1986, Danny Kaye was crowned King of Brooklyn at the Back to Brooklyn Day Festival. Danny Kaye was there to accept his crown.
- Autumn Laughter (1938) (experimental telecast)
- The Secret Life of Danny Kaye (1956) (See It Now special)
- What's My Line? (1960) (celebrity mystery guest)
- An Hour With Danny Kaye (1960 and 1961) (specials)
- The Danny Kaye Show with Lucille Ball (1962) (special)
- The Danny Kaye Show (1963–1967) (series)
- The Lucy Show: “Lucy Meets Danny Kaye” (1964) (guest appearance)
- Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971) (voice)
- The Dick Cavett Show (1971) (interview guest)
- The Enchanted World of Danny Kaye: The Emperor's New Clothes (1972) (special)
- An Evening with John Denver (1975) (special)
- Pinocchio (1976) (CBS special); live action television musical adaptation starring Kaye as Gepetto and Sandy Duncan in the title role
- Peter Pan (1976) (NBC special); live action television musical adaptation starring Mia Farrow in the title role, and Kaye as Captain Hook
- The Muppet Show (1978) (guest appearance)
- Disneyland's 25th Anniversary (1980) (special guest appearance)
- An Evening with Danny Kaye (1981) (special)
- Skokie (1981) (television movie)
- "The Wonderful World of Disney" Official Opening of Epcot Center television special (1982) (host and conductor)
- The Twilight Zone: "Paladin of the Lost Hour" (1985) (guest appearance)
- The Cosby Show: "The Dentist" (1986) (guest appearance)
- Danny Kaye (Decca, 1949)
- Gilbert And Sullivan And Danny Kaye (Decca, 1949)
- Danny Kaye Entertains (Columbia, 1950)
- Mommy, Gimme a Drinka Water (Orchestration by Gordon Jenkins) (Capitol, 1958)
- The Five Pennies (with Louis Armstrong, London, 1959)
- Hans Christian Andersen (1952)
- Knock on Wood (Decca, 1954)
- Court Jester (Brunswick, 1956)
- Merry Andrew (1958)
- Danny Kaye for Children (Coral, 1959)
- Danny Kaye Tells 6 Stories from Faraway Places (Golden, 1960)
- Selections from Irving Berlin's White Christmas (1954)
- The Best of Danny Kaye (Decca, 1965)
- Two by Two (Columbia, 1970)
- The Very Best of Danny Kaye (20 Golden Greats) (MCA, 1987)
- Little Child (Daddy Dear) with Dena Kaye (Decca, 1956) US Cash Box # 25
- Ciu Ciu Bella (Capitol, 1956) US Music Vendor # 76
- Lullaby in Ragtime with Eileen Wilson (Dot, 1959) US Music Vendor # 116
- D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song (Oh, Really? No, O'Malley) (Reprise, 1962) US Cash Box # 113
- "French Honor Danny Kaye". The Modesto Bee. February 26, 1986.
- Kaye, Dena (January 18, 2013). "Interview". Turner Classic Movies. Her father was actually born in 1911, but for reasons unknown to her, changed it to 1913.CS1 maint: postscript (link)
- FBI records and SSDI show 1911.
- "Danny Kaye Biography". UNICEF. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
- "1980–1989 Obituaries [SSDI search]". Legacy.com/SSDI. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
- Adir, Karen, ed. (2001). The Great Clowns of American Television. McFarland & Company. p. 270. ISBN 0-7864-1303-4. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
- "Welcome P.S. 149 Danny Kaye". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- "World-renowned comedian dies". Eugene Register-Guard. March 4, 1987. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
- Goodman, Mark (December 23, 1979). "A Conversation With Danny Kaye". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
- Perry, Lawrence (May 9, 1954). "Danny Kaye Looks at Life". The Milwaukee Journal.
- Battelle, Phyllis (May 8, 1959). "Mrs. Danny Kaye Proves a Genius". The Milwaukee Sentinel.
- "Danny Kaye | Transcript". February 6, 1949. Archived from the original on July 25, 2019. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- "Bio – Danny Kaye". Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- "Git Gat Gittle". Time. March 11, 1946. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Kaye, Dena (January 19, 1969). "Life With My Zany Father – Danny Kaye". Tri City Herald. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- Many sources assert that Kaye's debut was in a 1935 comedy short Moon Over Manhattan, but he does not appear in the film: http://thedannykayeshow.blogspot.com/2013/02/danny-kayes-first-film-fraud.html
- ""Highlights and Shadows"-front of program". The President Players. July 4, 1937. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- ""Highlights and Shadows" – inside of program". The President Players. July 4, 1937. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- "Who Is Sylvia?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. October 30, 1960. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
- "Danny Kaye, comedian who loved children, dead at 74". Wilmington Morning Star. Wilmington, North Carolina. Associated Press. March 4, 1987. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
- Remington, Fred (January 12, 1964). "Danny Kaye: King of Comedy". The Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
- Edel, Leon (November 8, 1941). "Danny Kaye as Musical Draftee Brightens the Broadway Scene". Retrieved January 19, 2011.
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- Kanfer, Stefan (1989). A summer world: the attempt to build a Jewish Eden in the Catskills from the days of the ghetto to the rise and decline of the Borscht Belt (1st ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. p. 157. ISBN 978-0374271800.
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Danny Kaye, by the way, never owned a Learjet, though he did receive a type rating ... his friend Bill Lear made him a vice president this was strictly an honorary and symbolic title
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Danny Kaye|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Danny Kaye.|
- Danny Kaye at IMDb
- Danny Kaye at the Internet Broadway Database
- Danny Kaye discography at Discogs
- Royal Engineers Museum
- Literature on Danny Kaye
- "Danny Kaye". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
- FBI Records: The Vault – Danny Kaye, fbi.gov; accessed June 4, 2017.
- Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Collection and the Online Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Collection at the Library of Congress
- Danny Kaye recordings at the Discography of American Historical Recordings