Danny Kaye has been one of my favorite people since I was a little girl. I don’t know exactly why that is except to say that some people just strike you as being good. There were other actors who were more handsome, or who had better singing voices, but I never felt the same affection for them as I did for Danny Kaye. As talented as he was, he may not have been the best singer or actor, but he always seemed to me to be the sweetest.
Maybe I thought he was so wonderful because when I was about five years old he starred in the film Hans Christian Andersen. I loved the stories and I loved that film. He portrayed a very sweet and gentle Hans Christian Andersen. My parents bought me the record which I listened to over and over again. I knew all the songs – still do. “Oh, Thumbelina, Thumbelina, tiny little thing. Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing. Oh Thumbelina what’s the difference if you’re very small? When your heart is full of love you’re nine feet tall.” The man who sang that looked to me to be full of love himself.
In addition to being an excellent actor, singer, dancer, and comedian, Kaye was the first ambassador-at-large for UNICEF, an organization he assisted for many years. Although he never won an Oscar for a performance, he did win the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. I have always thought of him as a humanitarian.
I hadn’t heard Kaye singing any of the songs from the film for probably 55 years when all of a sudden one day last week a TV commercial came on and I instantly recognized him singing The Ugly Duckling. I couldn’t believe it. That commercial has come on twice now but I couldn’t tell you what product it is advertising. Each time I’ve been totally wrapped up in Danny Kaye’s singing that short clip.
Now I wanted to hear more – the whole song at least, and others too. So I got on the internet and found a video of the performance and thought I’d share it with you. If you’re my age maybe you have the same fond memories of Danny Kaye that I have. If you’re much younger and are not familiar with him, here’s a chance to make the acquaintance of a fabulous entertainer and a wonderful human being.
Danny Kaye and The Ugly Duckling
Danny Kaye isn’t the only wonderful entertainer out there. Here’s a video of two of the greatest singing together. Both these men emanate warmth and kindness -- real gentlemen.
As far as I can tell, they don’t make them like that any more.
Photo from Wikipedia.