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