Remembering Danny Kaye on His Centennial – CBS News


(CBS News) Even in the golden age of Hollywood, he stood out. Few performers captivated audiences the way actor, singer, dancer and comedian Danny Kaye did.

Throughout the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, he was everywhere — on stage and on the radio, in movies and on TV . . . and all around the world as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

What didn’t he do?

“He didn’t make himself bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches,” said his daughter, Dena Kaye. “I made that for him.”

Dena didn’t have to make much else for her father — he was also an avid chef.

“I used to say that his kitchen was like his private theater,” she told Miller, “and the things he cooked with were not just utensils, they were artist’s tools.”

Her father loved cooking so much, Dena donated his “artist’s tools” to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and funded a cooking “theater” in his name.

The only daughter of Danny Kaye and composer-lyricist Sylvia Fine, Dena Kaye is keeping her parents’ memory alive, 100 years after they were born.

At the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., a special exhibit honors the legendary couple.

“So, why should people of this generation know your father?” Miller asked.

“He was so much more than a performer,” Dena replied. “He was UNICEF’s first goodwill ambassador in 1954. So he’s a role model. I can’t say Angelina Jolie would say, ‘Oh, I’m doing this ’cause I know Danny Kaye did it,’ but nonetheless, he paved the way for Harry Belafonte, Audrey Hepburn, et cetera.”

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