The Library of Congress exhibit honoring comedian-actor-UNICEF ambassador Danny Kaye and his wife-collaborator-manager Sylvia Fine opens in Los Angeles at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Aug. 24.
“Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine: Two Kids from Brooklyn”, which closes July 27 at the Library, has about 60 items including recordings, photos, scripts, plus video clips from “The Danny Kaye Show”, “An Evening with Danny Kaye and the New York Philharmonic,” the UNICEF film “Assignment Children”, and a Kaye-related segment from one of Fine’s three PBS documentaries “Musical Comedy Tonight”.
Fine played a major role in Kaye’s success. She wrote the music and lyrics for more than 100 of his songs, and managed and produced his stage and TV engagements during their four-decade collaboration.
Kaye shows “nearly inhuman energy on screen, somewhere between child, machine, and rogue cuckoo clock,” according to “A Biographical Dictionary of Film” (Knopf) by David Thomson. The author terms Fine the “brains” behind Kaye’s success.
Kaye is best-known for his roles in “White Christmas” and “Hans Christian Andersen”, two of his 17 movies including “The Court Jester” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. His signature number was “Tchaikovsky”, in which Kaye rattles off names of about 50 Russian composers in 39 seconds. It was a show-stopper in “Lady in the Dark”.
The sandy haired, goofy comic Kaye was also the first goodwill ambassador for the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in 1954, a position he held during the rest of his life.
The Library of Congress is honoring Kaye and Fine not only for their contributions to entertainment, but also for their lifelong commitment to charities. It also put the exhibit online, drawn from the 2,000-item Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Collection.
As Kaye once said, “Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it.”
For more info: “Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine: Two Kids from Brooklyn”, Library of Congress, James Madison Building, Performing Arts Reading Room Gallery, First Floor, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. Free, through July 27. Walt Disney Concert Hall’s Library of Congress Ira Gershwin Gallery, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, Calif. Free, Aug. 24 through Feb. 15, 2014. The items are drawn from the Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Collection in the Music Division of the Library of Congress and the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. View the exhibit online at http://myloc.gov/exhibitions/danny-kaye-and-sylvia-fine/pages/default.aspx.