110 years ago today, Danny Kaye, the actor, comedian, singer, dancer, and humanitarian was born in Brooklyn, New York. His physical comedy, childlike pantomimes, and rapid-fire novelty songs set him apart and fueled his rise in films, like White Christmas, co-starring Bing Crosby, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and The Court Jester.
He was the first ambassador for UNICEF in 1954 and received the French Legion of Honour for his decades of work traveling the globe for children. The experience of trying to entertain audiences who did not speak English inspired him to do the pantomime gestures and facial expressions that became his signature style.
In 1950, I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, became a chart-topping hit. Two songs from his film Hans Christian Andersen—The Ugly Duckling and Wonderful Copenhagen—reached the top five on the UK pop charts. His wife, writer/lyricist Sylvia Fine, wrote many tongue-twisting songs for which Kaye became famous. But Danny was also highly improvisational, making things up on the spot, especially while hosting The Danny Kaye Show from 1963 to 1967, which won four Emmys and a Peabody award. He also won two Golden Globes for Best Actor. WATCH a 1987 BBC obituary… (1911)
MORE Good News on this Date:
- A.A. Milne, the English author of the famous Winnie-the-Pooh children’s books was born (1882)
- Eugene Ely landed an aircraft on a ship, the first time in history [used a tail hook] (1911)
- The Paris Peace Conference opened in Versailles following the end of World War I, where diplomats from 32 countries and nationalities created the League of Nations, as well as the five peace treaties with Germany and her allies (1919)
- Liberation of the Budapest ghetto by the Russian Army (1945)
- The Beatles made their US chart debut when I Want To Hold Your Hand became the fastest-breaking single in Capitol Records history, and spent seven weeks at No.1 (1964)
- A cease fire pact with Israel and Egypt hastened an end to the Yom Kippur War (1974)
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was officially observed for the first time in all 50 states (1993)
- Boerge Ousland of Norway became the first person to cross Antarctica alone and unaided, a ski journey made with kite assistance, which also earned him the record for the fastest unsupported journey to the South Pole, taking just 34 days (1997)
- In Sierra Leone the civil war was finally declared over (2002)
- The Obama Administration banned US hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding from prohibiting visitation rights for unmarried or gay partners of patients who designate them as loved ones (2011)
And 38 years ago today, the International Olympic Committee posthumously restored Jim Thorpe‘s Olympic medals, seven decades after he trounced his opponents with performances that still earn him the title of “greatest athlete of all time.” The two gold medals that he won in the multi-event pentathlon and decathlon were taken from him because he earned some money playing semipro baseball.
A Native American from Oklahoma, Thorpe was unrivaled as a college athlete who competed in football, baseball, track, lacrosse, hockey, handball, tennis, boxing, and even ballroom dancing. At the start of the year of the Stockholm games, 1912, Thorpe had never thrown a javelin or pole-vaulted, yet he placed third and fourth in the events. In fact, during the 1,500-meter race he crushed the field with a time that no one would beat for six decades. (1983)
And, Happy Birthday to actor, director, producer, and musician Kevin Costner, who turns 66 today. His love of baseball has enriched us all, through stellar films like Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, and For Love of the Game.
He rose to prominence in Hollywood with his 1987 portrayal of Eliot Ness in The Untouchables, which was followed by a string of movie successes, like No Way Out, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, JFK, and The Bodyguard. His 1990 masterpiece, Dances with Wolves—which he directed, produced, and starred in—was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won 7, (two for Costner) including Best Picture, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay.
He also won three Golden Globes, an Emmy (for his portrayal in the TV miniseries Hatfields & McCoys), and a pair of Screen Actors Guild Awards—one in 2016 for playing the NASA director in Hidden Figures.
In 2018 he was cast as a rancher and family patriarch in the Paramount TV drama series Yellowstone. WATCH the trailer below…
Costner became a singer in Kevin Costner & Modern West, a country rock band, seen on YouTube, that he founded 14 years ago with the encouragement of his wife Christine. (1955)
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