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On This Day in History, April 18: ‘The Kid From Brooklyn’ Comes to Astor

MANHATTAN — The Kid from Brooklyn premiered at the Astor Theatre in Manhattan on April 18, 1946. When producer Samuel Goldwyn (the “G” in “MGM”) signed up Brooklyn-born Danny Kaye to a contract for five movies at $150,000 each, he came up with a gold mine. Goldwyn knew a winner when he saw one.

The Kid from Brooklyn was the third in the set and grossed more than the first two, Up in Arms and Wonder Man. It cost Goldwyn $2 million to make and earned more than $5 million on the first time around. Kaye played a milquetoast-type as a milkman-turned-boxer from Brooklyn. The script of this remake followed very closely (almost scene-to-scene) the original, titled The Milky Way (1936) which starred Harold Lloyd. Both movies proved considerably more popular than the Broadway stage play The Milky Way, which lasted less than 50 performances.

The musical numbers in The Kid from Brooklyn were written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. One other number was written by Max Liebman and Kaye’s wife Sylvia Fine. It was for Kaye’s only musical performance in the film — “Pavlova” — a satire on ballet. The Goldwyn Girls were shown to good advantage as usual in Goldwyn productions, but none of this camp went on to greater glory as happened with Lucille Ball and many others.

Danny Kaye was born Danny Kominski in Brooklyn on January 18, 1913. Just out of high school Danny became a “Toomler” in the Catskills. “Toomle” is a Yiddish word meaning “ruckus.” Many of the Catskill resort hotels employed bright young men just to stir things up, entertain and keep the customers happy. That is what Danny was up to his entire career.

Kaye progressed to Broadway and was seen in The Straw Hat Revue (’39), Lady in the Dark (’41) and Let’s Face It (’41). Danny stole the show, before achieving phenomenal success in 1943 at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe nightclub in Manhattan.

April 18, 2012 - 11:30am


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