Friday, November 7, 2014

Danny Kaye’s First Talk Show Appearance

What may have been Danny Kaye's first talk show appearance ever was just released this week on DVD.

First, a little background:  Early on, Danny was wary of television. Initially, he thought himself above the fledgling medium. He also saw that TV chewed up material at a ferocious pace, and was fearful it would quickly consume all the specialty numbers he had spent decades perfecting on stage.

In the 1950s, he appeared on a handful of TV specials, such as the Academy Awards, but it took until 1960 before a new agent convinced him to appear in three hour-long TV specials, one a year, to rejuvenate his sagging movie career.

To promote the first two specials on CBS, he made guest appearances on his favorite game show, What’s My Line. But the third special, co-starring Lucille Ball, would run on NBC, so he needed to find NBC shows on which to promote it. He consented to something he’d never done before: talk shows.

With the Lucy special set to air Nov. 11, 1962, he appeared for the first time on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson Nov. 8, The Andy Williams Show Nov. 8, and was interviewed on Here’s Hollywood Nov. 9. He also appeared on NBC’s brand-new Merv Griffin Show, taping the episode Nov. 8-9. The episode aired that second afternoon, so while it may have been the first talk show set Danny ever set foot on, it was his third broadcast.

And it's that hilarious appearance on the Merv Griffin Show that was released on DVD this week, as part of a 12-disc box set of the series.

After the Lucy special, Kaye started his own weekly variety show, which ran for four years, after which he’d sporadically return to talk shows, like David Frost and Dick Cavett, to promote other projects.

New Merv Griffin Show box set kicks off with an early appearance by Danny Kaye.


  1. Didn't know this! Merv Griffin was a real student of entertainment and got great interviews from his subjects. I will have to track this down! Thank you for alerting us!

  2. David: Danny Kaye fans everywhere love your fascinating historical posts about Danny's life and career. We can't read this stuff anywhere else,.. your website is ... please post more. We've been waiting 2 months since Nov 7 ..your work is read by many people, I'm sure, most of which don't leave comments, but they are out there...this website ties in with your Danny Kaye book, which we all love... so keep it going! Thanks!

  3. DKFF
    Thank you for the encouragement! I look forward to returning with many more new Danny Kaye tales in 2015. Enjoy the new year!

  4. Many rare Danny Kaye radio and television audio air checks are archived in Archival Television Audio, Inc. ( Currently the website displays half of the entire 20,000 titles in the collection.

  5. I met Danny Kaye August 2nd,
    1980 at the Hollywood Bowl..(seated in the box below mom dad me and bro) I was 13 and he suddenly appears out of nowher) and my bro were into the DK movie reruns that bro says would you like to sign this (autograph)to which he replies would I Like to sign wd I be happy to classic Danny Kaye...then midway thru the performance he turns in his seat-there is some tented booth above us-he is directly below me and he covers himself a bit and mouths It's cold..