Spring 2013

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Snapshot by Valerie Yaros Danny Kaye performing at the USO in downtown Saigon, April 1, 1966. DANNY KAYE: TROUPING FOR THE TROOPS A pril 1, 1966. Saigon, South Vietnam: The heat and humidity were stifling, the sweat pouring off him, but dynamic Danny Kaye was the lucky one — providing entertainment and laughter for U.S. troops who risked their lives daily in South Vietnam. Just that morning, Kaye heard an explosion as a Viet Cong bomb destroyed an officers' billet a few miles away. An extremely popular comedian, his Danny Kaye Show, which ran from 1963-1967, was one of the few American television programs available to U.S. troops in South Vietnam. Three days after completing the season's final episode, he departed for Saigon to begin a threeweek tour of military bases, camps and hospitals with singer Vikki Carr, who had guest-starred on the show. The tour was arranged through the USO and the Hollywood Overseas Committee. Kaye was not just a beloved performer, but a man who gave his time, labor and love to uplift others. He became the first goodwill ambassador for UNICEF in 1954, remaining so until his death in 1987. When he received the union's 1982 Life Achievement Award, Screen Actors Guild's then-President Ed Asner lauded him: "The highest award that Screen Actors Guild gives is for 52 SAG-AFTRA 52-53_Snapshot_F1.indd 52 outstanding achievement in fostering the finest ideals of the acting profession. The award always seems to go to someone beyond that definition, someone bigger than life, almost an incarnation of what the public envisions as a 'star.' [Danny Kaye] is the personification of that image … he is multifaceted in the entertainment industry — Broadway, movies, TV, radio, records. He's conducted symphonies all over the world for charity, but he's not the martyr type, giving his all for the public and leaving nothing for himself. He does much for himself. He's a devoted father, he's a holder of France's top culinary award, he's a jet pilot, he can whip anybody at pingpong, he's a walking encyclopedia of baseball and he can rattle off the names of 50 Russian composers in 38 seconds … He's an inspiration to all of us, of the consummate life we can lead in the world if we have energy and love. Above all, a paragon for the actor." 2013 has been declared a "Danny Kaye Centennial," with honors from UNICEF and the Library of Congress, which is celebrating Kaye and his wife, Sylvia Fine, with an exhibit running until July 27, 2013, Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine: Two Kids from Brooklyn. | Spring 2013 | 4/23/13 7:36 PM

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