Turner Classic Movies
Kaye, Dena
Written by Diana Saenger   

dena_kaye_250.jpgParamount was home to Danny Kaye, one of Hollywood's best singers and dancers, and classic film favorite. Celebrating 60 years of the treasured musical classic Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Paramount Home Media Distribution recently released the Diamond Anniversary Edition arriving on Blu-ray Combo Pack. Eager to speak about the new Blu-ray and her father, Dena Kaye was gracious to do a phone interview all the way from Paris. Myself, I adored Danny Kaye, and wondered what it was like to grow up in their house.

"Even as his daughter I could take a step back and say there was no one ever really like him," Kaye said. "He could dance, sing, make you laugh and teary. His body awareness of physicality and spontaneity was amazing. He had so many interests; he conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, was a pilot and was the first UNICEF Ambassador."

This Blu-ray also stars legendary performers such as Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. It features unforgettable music by Irving Berlin, the beloved holiday film offers timeless entertainment for all ages. 

white_christmas_250.jpg"The movie White Christmas is one of my favorites because so many people say to me they watch it every year, and I find that extraordinary and wonderful. I love the dancing scenes. When I was a little girl I told my mother that I wouldn't take dancing lessons because my father didn't take dancing lessons; and as a result I don't know how to dance," Kaye said with lite humor.

The Blu-ray was just spectacular. I've seen White Christmas many times, but I enjoyed it again so much. I especially liked the veteran angle that your dad and Bing Crosby developed in the story. It was really poignant at this time in our culture.

"My dad was a unique artist and one of the things I really appreciate about the Blu-ray is that they have included Assignment Children, a documentary made when he first joined UNICEF as their first Goodwill ambassador," Kaye said. "He earned an Academy award for the documentary."

Even though your dad had a busy career he always seemed to make time for you. You did some early appearances on The Danny Kaye Show.  

dena_with_dad_270.jpg"Yes I did. UNICEF was his job outside of our family life. But he would bring me folk songs from his visits to other countries like Africa or Japan. Sometimes dolls also from those places. I really enjoyed the songs by Hans Christian Andersen when dad visited UNICEF in Odense, Denmark where Andersen was born. When I went with him one time, I was always astonished how wonderful he was with people and children. Even when I became a journalist dad started following my career and would watch me on television and makes suggestions. There was nothing fake about my father or put on to just look good; he was who he was."

The Blu-ray contains many comments from filmmakers, actors and colleagues. How did that affect you?

"I'm glad he's getting recognition," Kaye said. "He wasn't a networker; he didn't play the Hollywood game. He did his own thing and was a professional, which is what he was most proud of. So I was delighted to have the comments from his peers because it was a group of like-minded people who were also devoted to entertaining people."

One of Kaye's favorite scenes in White Christmas is the dance scenes with Vera-Ellen.  Kaye has high hopes for the Diamond Anniversary Edition.

"I hope that people who watch the new White Christmas Blu-ray or DVD will take the time to show it to their children. It's a lesson that Christmas is a time that's usually about me-me-me. I hope one might look for what they can do for others. My dad was a great example of that."

Dena Kaye has an amazing resume. She is president of the Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation. Her philosophy of philanthropy is highly personal, hands-on, oriented to the grantee's precise needs and ultimate self-sustainability.  Grants have included The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, New York; The Music Garden, a one-acre garden in Aspen, Colorado; Aspen Filmfest; The Baryshnikov Dance Foundation and the Baryshnikov Arts Center; a community park in Cairo with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture; Les Jardins de William Christie; The Arts Arena in Paris; a textile gallery in the Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, India, for the collection of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, and many more.

She's very appreciative of everyone who keeps classic films, its actors and filmmakers in the media.

"I'm so pleased that so many people like you who have worked with Robert Osborne at his classic film festival or elsewhere, for helping other people learn about these older actors," Kaye said. "It was also wonderful of Paramount to invest so much money in this Blu-ray. All the special features are just wonderful and exciting. We have worked with Paramount for about two years and it's just been wonderful. Paramount was dad's home studio. As a little girl I remember his bicycle, his bungalow and going to the commissary with him. He made a lot of movies there, and I'm just thankful for Paramount for doing this Diamond Anniversary edition."




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