As announced this morning on NBC's "TODAY" show, Danny Kaye, a beloved American icon, humanitarian role model and legendary entertainer, will be celebrated during The Danny Kaye Centennial, a year-long tribute filled with activities and events highlighting this uniquely talented man who brought laughter and joy to generations. In addition to being UNICEF'S first Goodwill Ambassador, Kaye received countless accolades during his lifetime including Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, the French Legion of Honor, the Kennedy Center Honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Danny Kaye Centennial will culminate with UNICEF presenting the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award in 2013.
Singular among show business headliners, Danny Kaye was an actor, singer, dancer and comedian. He was inexhaustibly gifted. Best known for film performances in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Hans Christian Andersen, The Court Jester, and White Christmas, Kaye was equally as popular on Broadway, in productions like Lady in the Dark, and for his CBS television specials and variety hour. His one-man stage show wowed audiences in Las Vegas, New York and London, where his reception was described as "worshipful hysteria" by Life magazine.
In addition to his artistic accomplishments, Kaye was a Renaissance Man. He was a jet pilot, baseball team owner, master Chinese chef, and symphony orchestra conductor. He was one of the first celebrities ever to take on a full-scale role in support of a humanitarian effort when he became UNICEF's first Goodwill Ambassador in 1954. He circled the globe making speeches, performing, acting as master of ceremonies, and most importantly, rubbing noses, rolling on the floor, dancing and interacting with the children he made smile for perhaps the first time in their lives. The Centennial celebration honors not only his commitment as an entertainer, but also his trail-blazing and tireless humanitarian work. In recognition of his heartfelt dedication, in 1982 he was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
During the year, events around the country will invite the public to experience the talents that made Danny Kaye one of a kind. These include programs with UNICEF, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, the Paley Center for Media, Sirius XM Radio and the Museum of the Moving Image. Additional partnerships include Turner Classic Movies (TCM), special DVD package launches, Danny Kaye merchandise, Film Festival tributes and more.