|The Johnny Mann Singers left The Danny Kaye Show weeks before they would have recorded this promotional album.|
Composer Johnny Mann, who passed away last night at the age of 85, worked with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and even voiced Theodore the Chipmunk. But I’ll always think of Mann as the Wally Pipp of The Danny Kaye Show.
In 1963, Mann was signed as choral director for Kaye’s planned variety show. He would appear each week with his Johnny Mann Singers and, as a road test, also toured with Danny on stage during the summer leading up to the series.
It’s commonly believed that Mann left the series after completing the 32-episode first season. In truth, he appeared in only the first handful of episodes. (One of the shows he appeared in didn’t air until February 1964, so technically you could say that he was on the show from 1963-1964, even though he barely made it to October 1963.)
The producers decided to instead hire Earl Brown, who worked particularly well with Danny and could craft new and old material exactly for Kaye’s talents. Earl would become fast friends with Danny and one of the show's primary creative influences. He would end up writing specialty material for Danny for years after the series ended. And starting in November 1963, it was the Earl Brown Singers—not the Johnny Mann Singers—starring on The Danny Kaye Show.