Monday, January 21, 2013

Danny Kaye Connection

The team on Facebook behind "The Real Peter Tork (Official)" page posted this clip as

"This past week saw what would have been the centennial birthday of Danny Kaye, an amazing actor, singer, musician and humanitarian. Peter was once asked about some of his influences as a performer and he listed Danny Kaye high among them. His movie, The Court Jester, is a particular favorite of Peter's (check out the "Vessel with the Pestle" routine!). We found this clip below that really shows some of the comedic timing our boss learned from marvelous man. Stick with this clip to the end and also learn about what a sweet, gentle, caring soul he also possessed. RIP and thank you, Danny! ~ptfb team"


Danny Kaye (January 18, 1913 – March 3, 1987) reminded me of Gene Wilder ("Young Frankenstein", it must have been the hair).  My favorite songs of his is "Russian Composers" and "Tongue Twisters".  The "Vessel with the Pestle" routine is a direct forefather of "Grecian Goblets Guarantee Graves!"  There's also a great guest turn he does on "The Cosby Show" (the audience doesn't seem to recognize him when he first appears, but they warm up quickly, even if he is doing a silly German accent).

There's a story (often told by Jonathan Schwartz) about Kaye and an autograph seeker. Kaye was in the middle of a spaghetti dinner and after much careful business, managed to twirl a perfect forkful.  Just as  he opened his mouth, the eager fan shoved an autograph book onto the table and begged for him to sign it. He took one look at the fan and then one look at his spaghetti.  Without missing a beat, he then handed the fan his forkful and asked them to hold it while he signed.

MONKEE TV:
Peter was not the only one influenced by Kaye; his humor was big for the Developers of the show-Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker (the reporter and "Man on the Street" in the Pilot).  They had both worked on "The Danny Kaye Show" as writers in 1963.  After 2 years as "Developers" on the entire Monkees series, they went on to do movies together.  "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" (1968) and "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"(1969).

SIDE NOTE:
Alice B Toklas' name was borrowed on several occasions.  In literature circles, "The Autobiography of Alice B.Toklas" by Gertrude Stein (her lesbian partner), was Stein's bestselling book.  Even though Toklas was willed Stein's estate, including many paintings by their mutual friend Picasso, as a lesbian couple their partnership had no legal standing (even in Paris in the late 1940's!!).  To make money, Toklas eventually published "The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook", which contained a recipe for "Haschich Fudge", which is presumably why everyone (Tucker, Mazursky and even the star, Peter Sellars) is in love with her.


Full Links:

PTFB: Danny Kaye at the NYPhilharmonic, 1981, sincere speech about orchestras
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8P_5TG_DZpI

Danny Kaye's Radio Show, "Tschaikowsky (and other Russians)"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkJdmTrlTYk

"Vessel with the Pestle"
http://movieclips.com/F8HW2-the-court-jester-movie-the-pellet-with-the-poisons-in-the-vessel-with-the-pestle/

On the Cosby Show
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1GbKQuVP0I

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