David Novek presents
Danny Kaye and Hal Prince
Lecture series recap to continue on October 8 with Martin and Lewis
By Byron Toben
Updated October 6, 2020
Film publicist David Novek continues his lecture series on stage and film icons of the past (liberally sprinkled with film clips, some rare). Thus far, he has presented, via Zoom, the amazing life of actor/singer Danny Kaye and the tremendous accomplishments of director/producer Hal Prince. A recap of those appears below.
The series concludes with the comic duo of Martin and Lewis (October 8) and Barbra Streisand (October 29), both to be posted at 1:30 pm on the Cummings Centre site, cummingscentre.org
Recap of Danny Kaye
Born in New York City in 1911 as David Daniel Kaminsky, this high school dropout went on to appear in 17 movies, a bunch of radio and TV shows, and become the first ambassador-at-large for Unicef. He was especially famous for his rapid-fire patter songs.
He was fired from his part-time job at a dentist’s office for using the dentist drills to etch upon the woodwork. A few years later, he met and married that dentist’s daughter, pianist Sylvia Fine, who helped him write texts and compose music throughout his life.
Born in New York City in 1911 as David Daniel Kaminsky, this high school dropout went on to appear in 17 movies, a bunch of radio and TV shows, and become the first ambassador-at-large for Unicef.
After honing his skills in the Borscht Belt and on tours with a trio, he was discovered by legendary dramatist Moss Hart while appearing at a nightclub. That led to his starring opposite the leading actress of the day, Gertrude Lawrence, in the great Broadway show Lost in the Dark (music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin.)
Among his many films, I particularly enjoyed The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), based on James Thurber’s first short story in the New Yorker.
Audiences really loved Hans Christian Andersen (1952) and, of course, the perennial holiday favourite, White Christmas (1954) opposite Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney.
Danny Kaye also became a cooking enthusiast and a licensed pilot before passing away at age 76 in California. He was married only once to Sylvia, a rarity among show business types.
Recap of Hal Prince
This acclaimed director/producer was associated with many of the best-known musical productions of the 20th century. He acquired 21 Tony awards, the most of any individual.
Born in New York City in 1928 as Harold Smith Prince, he entered the theatre world by co-producing with the legendary George Abbott (who lived to 107) the 1955 Broadway hit, The Pajama Game, which won that year’s Tony.
In 1962, he set out on his own but mostly flopped. He was rescued in 1966 with Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret.
This was followed by many hits with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, including Company (1970), A Little Night Music (1973) and Sweeny Todd (1979).
He then directed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hits, Evita (1979) and The Phantom of the Opera (1986).
He is particularly noted for championing, along with Stephen Sondheim, the “concept musical”.
Hal Prince died in 2019 in Iceland at age 91. Like Danny Kaye, he was rare in show biz as sticking to one wife, Judith Chaplin, for life.
‘He is particularly noted for championing, along with Stephen Sondheim, the “concept musical”.’
To watch David Novek’s next two enlightening presentations on Zoom ($8 each) visit cummingscentre.org
You may have to become a member for $ 25, good until March 31, 2021, but this then entitles you to many free or low-cost shows and courses including music, painting, exercise, cooking, lectures, etc.
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.