The Danny Kaye Show

The Danny Kaye Show was an American variety show, hosted by the stage and screen star Danny Kaye, which aired on Wednesday nights from September 25, 1963, to June 7, 1967, on the CBS television network.[1] Directed by Robert Scheerer, it premiered in black-and-white switching to color broadcasts in the fall of 1965. At the time, Kaye was at the height of his popularity. He starred in a string of successful 1940s and 1950s musical comedy features, made numerous personal appearances at venues such as the London Palladium, and his rare selective visits to the small screen were considered major events. With his recent motion pictures considered disappointments, three triumphant early '60s television specials led the way to this series. Prior to his film and television career, Kaye had made a name for himself with his own radio show, also titled The Danny Kaye Show. He made numerous guest appearances on other comedy and variety radio shows and headlined in several major Broadway musical revues throughout the 1940s.

The Danny Kaye Show
Joyce Van Patten-Danny Kaye (1965).JPG
Joyce Van Patten & Danny Kaye in The Danny Kaye Show (1965)
GenreVariety show
Written byHerbert Baker
Billy Barnes
Presented byDanny Kaye
Theme music composerSylvia Fine
Sammy Cahn
Paul Weston
Nat Farber
Opening theme"Life Could Not Better Be"
Ending theme"Rendezvous In May"
ComposerPaul Weston
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes120
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time45–48 minutes
Production companiesColumbia Broadcasting System
Dena Pictures, Inc.
Original networkCBS
Picture formatBlack-and-white (1963–65)
Color (1965–67)
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 25, 1963 (1963-09-25) –
June 28, 1967 (1967-06-28)


With the start of the 1963–64 television season at hand, James T. Aubrey, then president and board head of the CBS network, firmly believed he had scored a major coup by signing Judy Garland and Danny Kaye to headline their own variety shows. Kaye's program was originally slated to air on Sunday nights at 9:00 pm (EST) following The Ed Sullivan Show. However, that particular time slot was swiftly becoming known as a graveyard slot with NBC's top-rated western Bonanza also shown at that hour. CBS offered Kaye the Sunday 9:00 pm slot and he flatly refused. As a result, the network placed Kaye's show on Wednesday nights at 10:00 pm (replacing the alternating The United States Steel Hour and Armstrong Circle Theatre drama anthologies), and gave the Sunday 9:00 pm slot to Garland.


The Danny Kaye Show followed the usual variety-show format, with an emphasis on comedy (Danny became the weekly equivalent of Sid Caesar and Carol Burnett), and was one of many variety shows that filled television schedules between 1948 and 1973, when the format had its heyday. Consultant Larry Gelbart worked with producer Perry Lafferty, a veteran of several recent Arthur Godfrey specials, in formulating the basic framework for the show months before it began production. They were also involved in the selection of talent with the program featuring many relative newcomers.[2]

Comedian Harvey Korman and actress Joyce Van Patten were featured performers on the show.[3] Tony Charmoli, formerly of The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, who would later go on to direct many television specials himself, including Mikhail Baryshnikov's staging of The Nutcracker (1977), was the choreographer for the musical numbers. The program's orchestra was conducted by gifted arranger-composer Paul Weston,[4] husband of vocalist and Capitol Records recording star Jo Stafford.

In the comedy elements of The Danny Kaye Show a recurring character was painfully shy guy "Jerome" (Kaye), getting into weekly scrapes through his shyness; the Jerome sketches were often introduced by Kaye doing a short monologue. As with many variety shows of the era, the final segment was "the sit-down", a less formal segment in which Kaye would have a light monologue or conversation summarizing the preceding program.

Ratings and popularityEdit

In the spring of 1964, The Danny Kaye Show ended its first season, winning an Emmy for best variety series though placing only 30th in the ratings. The Judy Garland Show was cancelled after its 26-week unsuccessful run against Bonanza. It did receive an Emmy nomination in the same category with Kaye.


In 1963, The Danny Kaye Show won a Peabody Award. The show was cited for having "added lustre and dimension to family-type comedy."[5] The citation added, "Through the inimitable style, wit, and charm of a master comedian in multiple roles, American televiewers have been treated to a season of delightful entertainment."[5]

The program won four Emmy Awards in 1964—for Outstanding Variety Music Or Comedy Series, Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series (Danny Kaye), Outstanding Directing For A Variety Series (Robert Scheerer), and Outstanding Achievement In Electronic Camera Work. Additionally, it was nominated for the following Emmy Awards: Outstanding Variety Music Or Comedy Series (1966), Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series (1966), Special Classifications Of Individual Achievements (1966), Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment Actors and Performers (1965), and Outstanding Art Direction For A Series (1964).[6]


After four years on CBS, The Danny Kaye Show ended its run in the spring of 1967. Increased competition from I Spy was a factor in the show's declining ratings that year. By this point, The Danny Kaye Show was in a time slot considered too late in the evening for variety shows of its type, but too family-friendly for late night (CBS did not program in the late-night slots at the time).

Show regular Harvey Korman quickly signed with another CBS variety series premiering in September - The Carol Burnett Show, where he remained as a cast member for 10 years. Tim Conway, a three-time Kaye guest star and also a future Burnett show series regular, first worked with Korman on a 1966 Kaye show. Following their years with Burnett, they continued as a duo in concert and television appearances until Korman's death in 2008. Danny Kaye remained a constant in the eyes of the public for the next two decades through his concert appearances, television work in both comical and highly praised dramatic roles, and as a tireless fundraiser for charities including UNICEF in which he spearheaded as an ambassador-at-large until his death in March 1987.

Home releasesEdit

On November 20, 2012, a "Christmas With Danny Kaye" DVD was released featuring two unedited holiday-themed episodes. Included are a 1963 hour with Nat King Cole and Mary Tyler Moore, a 1966 color show with Peggy Lee and Wayne Newton, and bonus material furnished by his daughter, Dena Kaye.

On October 7, 2014, MVD home video released a Best Of The Danny Kaye Show compilation on DVD. It contained six complete unedited episodes. Guests on these programs include Jack Benny, Gene Kelly, Art Carney, Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli, and Ella Fitzgerald. On October 16, 2015, an additional six-program collection was issued entitled Danny Kaye: Legends. Guests in this second volume include Lucille Ball, Tony Bennett, Shirley Jones, Louis Armstrong, George Burns, and Liberace.


On June 26, 2017, 50 years following its cancellation, selected unedited videotapes of The Danny Kaye Show returned to broadcast television on the Jewish Life Television network. The program was seen on weekday afternoons and Thursday evenings for the next 18 months; JLTV dropped the program at the end of 2018. INSP also aired the 1966 Christmas episode as part of a series of "Christmas Classics" variety show Christmas episodes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2017.


  1. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television (4th ed.). New York, New York: Penguin Books USA, Inc. p. 197. ISBN 0-14-02-4916-8.
  2. ^ Schumach, Murray. "A-Okay for Kaye / Writers Wield Scalpels Amid Pre-Show Bedlam" (The New York Times, January 19, 1964, Section 2, p.X 17)
  3. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (1979). he Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows: 1946-Present. New York, New York: Ballantine Books. p. 145. ISBN 0-345-25525-9.
  4. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7 p. 234.
  5. ^ a b "The Danny Kaye Show". Peabody. Retrieved 14 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Awards Search: Danny Kaye Show". Television Academy. Retrieved 14 May 2016.

External linksEdit