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Dance Heritage Coalition

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Kaye (Danny) and Sylvia Fine Collection

- Biography


1913 Jan 18 David Daniel Kaminiski is born in Brooklyn, New York. He is the first native-born American and the youngest of three sons born to Clara and Jacob Kaminiski, both of whom were originally from the Ukraine.
1913 Aug 29 Sylvia Fine is born in Brooklyn, New York. One of three children born to Bessie and Dr. Samuel Fine, a dentist, who coincidentally employed twelve year old David Daniel Kaminiski for a short period. David and Sylvia met briefly during this period.
1928 Fine, an excellent student, graduates from Thomas Jefferson High School at the age of fifteen. She enrolls in Hunter College (later known as Brooklyn College) to study music. Her musical skills were exhibited early on when at the age of three she discovered the piano. She began piano lessons at six years old and the study of harmony and musical theory at the age of ten. At that time, she also developed a fear of performing in front of large audiences and developed an interest for writing and composing.
1929 David Kaminiski takes on the stage name of "Danny Kaye" for his first performance as a tummler at the White Roe Lake summer resort in the Catskill Mountains in New York. As a tummler his performance was comparable to that of a jester, filling the time between acts of a show with comedy, singing, or a combination of entertainment.
1933 On a tour that included the Far East, Kaye performs a dance rountine as one of the Three Terpischoreans. During this period, Kaye began to craft his double-talk, babbling, and dialect routines. He had no formal training as a actor, dancer, comedian, or singer. He merely enhanced his natural abilities as a performer and entertainer.
1937 Kaye is signed by Educational Pictures to be featured in two-reel comedies. He consequently appeared in three of these short films which were shown between feature films.
1939 Kaye and Fine meet again while working on a Max Liebman production which proved to be unsuccessful. Liebman hires Fine to write specialty material for Tamiment, a summer camp located in Pennsylvania. Kaye was also hired due to Fine's influence. During this period, Fine writes the yiddish version of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado," "The Wolf of Wall Street," "Stanislavsky," and "Pavlowa," along with other material for Kaye which later was featured in Liebman's Broadway show, The Straw Hat Revue."
1940 Jan 13 Kaye and Fine are married in a civil ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
1940 Feb 22 Kaye and Fine are married again in a formal wedding ceremony with family present. During this year, the couple is a feature act at a Manhattan nightclub, La Martinique, with Kaye performing material such as Fine's "Anatole of Paris".
1941 Jan 23 Kaye has a role in Moss Hart's Lady in the Dark, performing "Tschaikowsky," which was written by Ira Gershwin and Moss Hart.
1941 Oct 29 Kaye has a role in Cole Porter's Let's Face It, performing "A Melody in 4F" by Fine and Liebman.
1943 Mar 1 Fine helps negotiate a five-year movie contract for Kaye with Samuel Goldwyn. Kaye legally changes his name to Danny Kaye.
1944 Feb Kaye stars in his first feature film, Up in Arms, which includes Fine and Liebman's, "The Lobby Number," and "Melody in 4F."
1945 Kaye appears in his second feature film, Wonder Man. He exhibits his natural dance abilities while performing Fine's number, "Bali Boogie." The Danny Kaye Show, a CBS radio program subtitled "Pabst Blue Ribbon Time," airs.
1946 The Kid from Brooklyn is released. In the film, Kaye performs "Pavlowa" by Fine. He begins a performance tour in the United States between filming movies.
1946 Dec 17 Dena, the only child of Kaye and Fine, is born.
1947 Apr Kaye stars in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which features musical numbers by Fine including "Anatole of Paris" and "A New Symphony for Unstrung Tongue". Kaye begins his recording career. His first album includes songs such as "Deenah," and "Minnie the Moocher". Only one of Fine's songs, "Anatole of Paris," is included on the album.
1948 A Song is Born featuring Kaye with Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Lionel Hampton is released. This film was not considered a success at the box office and it should be noted that this was the first film that Kaye did not perform Fine's material. Kaye becomes popular in Europe and with its royalty while on tour there.
1949 Kaye stars in his first Warner Brothers film, Inspector General. Fine's contributions to the film include "The Gypsy Drinking Song" and "Soliloquy for Three Heads". The movie was not very successful and the Kayes ended their contract with Warner Brothers and signed with 20th Century-Fox.
1950 On the Riviera, a 20th Century-Fox release, stars Kaye and includes four songs by Fine. Gwen Verdon is featured as a lead dancer and also serves as an assistant to Jack Cole, choreographer to the film.
1952 Kaye stars in the memorable Hans Christian Anderson, a Goldwyn Studios production.
1953 Kaye's popularity increases with his performance at the Palace Theatre on Broadway.
1954 Kaye is named Ambassador-at-Large for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). His visits to underprivileged children in other countries is documented in the UNICEF film, Assignment: Children. He also co- stars with Bing Crosby in the popular movie, White Christmas.
1955 Kaye is presented with a special Academy Award for his humanitarian efforts.
1956 Kaye performs Fine's material in the movie, The Court Jester. The Secret Life of Danny Kaye, a film documenting his work for UNICEF, airs on CBS.
1957 Kaye stars in Merry Andrew.
1958 Kaye's film, Me and The Colonel, is released by Columbia Pictures.
1959 The Five Pennies stars Kaye and features music by Fine, such as "Lullaby in Ragtime."
1960 Kaye performs at The Desert Inn in Las Vegas. He stars in his first television special, An Evening with Danny Kaye, with Fine as the producer.
1961 Kaye films On the Double. He also stars in his second television special.
1962 Kaye stars in The Man from the Diner's Club and his third television special.
1963-67 The Danny Kaye Show, a weekly television series featuring special guests, airs on CBS.
1969 Kaye has a feature role in the film, The Madwoman of Chaillot.
1970 Kaye stars in the stage play titled Two by Two.
1971-73 Kaye co-stars in a few television musicals such as Peter Pan, Peter Cottontail, and Pinocchio. He also embarks on a UNICEF tour of the United States. Fine teaches musical comedy at the University of Southern California.
1974 Kaye's Look-In at the Metropolitan Opera is televised and consequently wins an Emmy award.
1975 Fine begins her lecture series on musical comedy at Yale University.
1979 Fine's Musical Comedy Tonight, based on her lecture series, is broadcast on PBS.
1981 Kaye appears in Fine's Musical Comedy Tonight II. He also stars in the television movie, Skokie.
1982 Kaye receives the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy Awards.
1984 Kaye is a recipient of a Kennedy Center honor, along with Lena Horne, Isaac Stern, Gian Carlo Menotti, and Arthur Miller.
1987 Mar 2 Kaye, 74 years old, dies of a heart attack caused by hepatitis in a California hospital.
1991 Oct 29 Fine, 78 years old, dies of emphysema at her home in Manhattan, New York.

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