Danny Kaye fans have had plenty to rejoice about this year. There haven’t been this many opportunities to enjoy the performer’s work since before he passed away in 1987.
Here were my Top 10 Danny Kaye highlights of 2013:
(1) DVD Bonanza.
Aside from dozens of low-budget releases of the public domain The Inspector General, Kaye’s movies have never been that accessible on home video. That all changed over the last few months, with the release on DVD of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the four-pack Danny Kaye: Goldwyn Years, a combo Court Jester/Five Pennies disc, and pristine Blu-Rays of Knock on Wood, On the Double, and On the Riviera.
That leaves just three Kaye features unavailable—the sadly neglected Me and the Colonel and the not-so-sadly-neglected Man from the Diners Club and Madwoman of Chaillot.
(2) Library of Congress Website.
Accessed at www.loc.gov/kayefine, the new Danny Kaye/Sylvia Fine collection website is a godsend for all Kaye fans and researchers. You’ll find recordings of songs, radio shows, short films, rare family photographs, Sylvia’s hand-drawn orchestral scores and typed lyric sheets, scripts, personal letters, and more—without having to make the trip to Washington, D.C.
(3) Dena Kaye’s Tireless Pounding of the Pavement.
Danny and Sylvia’s daughter Dena deserves much of the credit for not only funding the centennial celebration that inspired most of these products and tributes, but also for constantly making herself available for interviews and events. Her energy and her presence are what kept this event—and her dad—in the public eye for so long.
(4) TCM Moviethon.
Turner Classic Movies celebrated Kaye’s birthday with a day-long tribute that did as much as anything to shine a light on his finest work.
(5) The Danny Kaye Show on Sirius Radio.
The private-access radio network has been regularly airing dozens of episodes of Kaye’s old radio series. Many of the programs haven’t been heard since they first aired in the 1940s.
(6) The Traveling Library of Congress Display.
That a sampling of artifacts from the LoC collection was on display in their reading room’s foyer was neat, for the hundreds of visitors who came across it. Even better was when the collection was moved to Los Angeles, where it could be enjoyed by the thousands.
(7) Instant Downloads.
Kaye has definitely arrived in the here and right now. This year, several of his movies became available as instant downloads on iTunes.
(8) The New Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
In making his new film, Ben Stiller intentionally tried to steer clear of Danny’s version, but—considering the movie’s high profile—its mere existence should send thousands of fans clamoring to check out the original.
(9) Danny Kaye Film Festival.
Attendance may have been small, but the love for Danny in that conference center was palpable. And they booked a great speaker with a terrific slide show!
(10) The Clicks Keep Coming.