Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Son of Goldwyn Helped Spread Kaye Stories

Producer Sam Goldwyn's son began producing shows himself not long after Kaye appeared in his sixth and final Goldwyn film, Hans Christian Andersen (1952).

Samuel Goldwyn Jr., son of the independent studio head who brought Danny Kaye to Hollywood and produced his first five films, died Jan. 9 at the age of 88.

His legendary father saw Kaye on Broadway in Lady in the Dark in 1940 and immediately began to pursue him for films. It took him until May 14, 1942, to sign Kaye and his songwriting wife, Sylvia Fine, to a five-picture deal, the first—the war comedy Up in Arms—to begin production a year later.

It was followed by Wonderman, The Kid from Brooklyn, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and A Song Is Born. After Danny left to “freelance,” he returned to Goldwyn one last time, for Hans Christian Andersen (1952).

Goldwyn Jr. became a respected producer in his own right, first in television in the 1950s and eventually in the movies starting in the 1980s. But I’ll always know him as the person who donated—and maintained strict control over—his father’s business papers to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s Margaret Herrick Library.

After several years of begging, I was finally able to get permission from Mr. Goldwyn to pore over scripts, treatments, production records, contracts and correspondence concerning the making of the six Kaye films—research that proved invaluable in the writing of my book Danny Kaye: King of Jesters.

Goldwyn Jr. also held on to the rights to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and over the last decade-plus of his life, he continuing searching for the right script and the right star to remake the Kaye classic. He finally settled on Ben Stiller, whose 2013 film would prove to be Goldwyn Jr.’s final screen credit.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Danny Kaye Returns to Mainstream!

Just spotted Danny Kaye at my local grocery store! RedBox is offering the new Blu-Ray of White Christmas.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Do You Want to Buy Danny Kaye’s Roadster?

Do you have a spare million to buy this beauty?

Next week, some lucky car collector will become the new owner of a treasured piece of Danny Kaye movie history:  the tricked-out sportscar Danny hijacks in Knock on Wood.

The car, a 1952 Woodill Wildfire roadster, is one of 142 cars from the Ron Pratte collection being sold at the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction Jan. 13-18, 2015, in Scottsdale, Az. The Discovery and Velocity cable TV channels will broadcast portions of the auction.

The Woodill Wildfire became famous for being the first car built all of fiberglass. For publicity, one of the first off the line in Downey, Ca., was sent to nearby Hollywood and affixed with plenty of gadgets that Kaye could play with as he pretends to be a British car salesman. Months later, the car was slightly restyled to make it look like a racing car, for the Tony Curtis movie Johnny Dark. A year later,
it was driven by Rock Hudson in Written on the Wind.

The company only produced about 15 cars and sold another 285 as kits. Fewer than 10 are known to exist today, the most recent one—a 1955 model—selling three years ago for $100,600. Kaye’s older, storied model will fetch a far higher price. No word on whether it still contains the original overhead, underslung, oscillating compression decravinator.

In Knock on Wood, Danny's character disguises himself as an English car salesman and bluffs his way through a demonstration of a new, gadget-laden vehicle.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The World of Danny Kaye Gets a Little Smaller

The late Eli Wallach joined Danny Kaye in the TV drama Skokie.

Every year, the direct connections to Danny Kaye become fewer and fewer, as we lose another batch of wonderfully talented folks who worked with him. Here are 10 who passed away over the last 12 months:

Stu Miller, 87, the San Francisco Giants pitcher immortalized in the tongue-twisting "Miller-Hiller-Haller" climax of Danny Kaye's "D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song" (1962), passed away Jan. 4, 2015.

Ernest Kinoy, 89, screenwriter of Kaye’s acclaimed TV movie Skokie (1981), died Nov. 10, 2014.

Richard Kiel, 74, most famous as the towering James Bond villain Jaws, also made a hilarious comic turn in the first Danny Kaye Show episode ever taped in color (episode 65, taped 1965, aired 1966). The sketch stars orchestra leader Paul Weston, who wants to sing “I’m Telling You Now” with his troupe, Paul Weston & the Weston Brothers—played by two midgets and a young, 7-foot-tall Kiel. He passed away Sept. 10.

Paul Mazursky, 84, the Academy Award-winning director and writer who got his first break as a sketchwriter on The Danny Kaye Show (1963-67), died June 30. Mazursky and his writing partner Larry Tucker were the only writers to work on the show all four years, and they later considered Kaye for the lead in their movie Harry and Tonto (instead opting for multi-appearance Kaye Show guest Art Carney).

Johnny Mann, 85, the first composer and choral arranger on The Danny Kaye Show (1963), passed away June 24.

Eli Wallach, 98, the legendary actor who co-starred in Skokie, left us the same day.

Martha Hyer, 89, Danny’s sweet love interest Lucy in The Man from the Diners Club (1963), died May 31.

Bern Bennett, 92, the staff CBS announcer whose work included intros for The Danny Kaye Show in the 1960s, died May 29.

Sid Caesar, 91, who succeeded Kaye as revue producer Max Liebman’s lead comedian in the 1940s and whose seminal variety show Your Show of Shows provided the template—and the majority of the writing staff—for The Danny Kaye Show, died Feb. 12.

Arthur Rankin, 89, stop motion puppet TV animation auteur, who with partner Jules Bass turned Danny into the puppet host of Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971), died Jan. 30, 2014.