By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Comic actor Danny Kaye, who starred in movies like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “White Christmas,” would have turned 100 years old on Jan. 18.
In tribute to the versatile, Brooklyn-born performer, Bay Ridge singer Martin McQuade will be performing a show featuring many of the songs Kaye sang in movies an on television.
McQuade’s show celebrating Kaye’s centennial, will take place on Sunday, Jan. 13, at The Greenhouse Café, 7717 Third Ave., starting at 6 p.m.
“He was one of a kind,” McQuade told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. McQuade said he was looking forward to the show. “Pianist Pete Sokolow will accompany me for this special tribute to a beloved show business icon with numerous ties to our borough. In fact, one of his hit movies was ‘The Kid from Brooklyn,’” McQuade said.
Kaye was born in Brownsville on Jan. 18, 1913. He died of heart failure in 1987.
“To me he was one of the most versatile stars of the golden age of show business,” McQuade said. Among his famous Broadway shows were “Lady in the Dark,” “Two By Two,” and “Danny Kaye at The Palace.” His movies included “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “A Song is Born” and “The Inspector General.”
Kaye also hosted a television show, “The Danny Kaye Show,” from 1963 to 1967.
“He could sing, dance, and act with breathtaking, and breakneck, energy. In particular, Kaye was the master of the ‘tongue – twisting’ song, sketches of comical whimsy, mostly composed by his wife, Sylvia Fine, which no mere mortal would attempt,” McQuade said.
McQuade, whose favorite Kaye movie is “Hans Christian Anderson,” said he will be performing several songs from that film, including “Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen," “The Ugly Duckling," "Thumbelina," and "Anywhere I Wander."
McQuade first became aware of Kaye when he was a boy. “My mother took me in 1963 to see ‘The Man From the Diner's Club’ at the Harbor Theater in Bay Ridge. And my father, who was a motion picture projectionist, took me in 1964 to see a reissue of ‘The Five Pennies’ at the Park Theater in Sunset Park. A ritual was watching Kaye's CBS TV show every Wednesday night. How we would roar with laughter!” he said.
“Kaye's elasticity, his effortless pratfalls and his manic comic delivery, would leave me awe-struck. He was so authentic and, to put it simply, zany! Yet he could tug at your heartstrings in so many of his semi-dramatic roles,” McQuade said.
“Danny Kaye was also a tireless crusader on behalf of his beloved UNICEF. This further endeared him to kids of my generation, growing up in the sixties,” McQuade said.
McQuade, who specializes in popular songs from mid-20th Century, has been a regular performer at the Greenhouse Café since 2004. In recent years, he has been working with the estate of Bing Crosby on various musical tributes.
McQuade is a graduate of New York University, where he earned a degree in Cinema Studies.
From 2003 – 2008 he was Kathryn Crosby's special events coordinator, assisting Bing Crosby’s widow with the organization of tributes and retrospectives honoring her husband, including the 2004 New York Public Library series, “Celebrating the Crosbys.”