Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kaye & Shaw

London's latest sensation, Danny Kaye, met celebrated George Bernard Shaw in 1949.

On May 3, 1949, a week after beginning his second triumphant run at the London Palladium, Danny Kaye took a Tuesday morning trip to Ayot St. Lawrence, to visit a group of friends who were hosting a tea party for their neighbor, acclaimed playwright George Bernard Shaw. Not long after Danny at the home, the 92-year-old Shaw came walking through the door, asking, “Anybody here I know?”

The neighbors introduced their two guests, after which Shaw remarked, “Seems to me I’ve read of you somewhere.” Kaye was a bit apprehensive before meeting the literary legend, but the two warmed up to each other immediately.

“How long are you staying, Danny?” Shaw asked.

“As long as Britain can take it, sir.”

“Well, they’re still taking me, Danny.”

Shaw later complimented him: “Young man, you don’t need make up. You’ve got it all in your face.”

The pair even made a short home movie, in which Shaw tiptoed out form a clump of bushes, tapped Kaye on the shoulder, and then flung his arms around him. “I shouldn’t like you,” Shaw said. “If you have your way, you’ll do away with authors. You do whatever comes into your head.”

“Now I know why you hate actors,” Danny replied. “You’re a better actor than all of us.”

After a long look, the elder admitted. “You’re probably right.”

The visit stretched into a pleasant two hours, but Kaye had to finally leave to do his two Palladium shows that evening. It was during his rushed drive back to the theater that disaster struck. Next week: the rest of the story...

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