Celebrate Lucy’s Birthday… With Danny Kaye!

Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! In this week’s post, I’m observing the yearly tradition of celebrating the anniversary of Lucille Ball’s birth (August 6th) by sharing, with subscribers who comment below to let me know of their interest, one of the Queen’s heretofore unreleased television endeavors: The Danny Kaye Show With Lucille Ball. Although the two comedians would work together a few years later on each of their respective series, most diehard fans will tell you that their finest collaboration occurred during this rare television special, which was produced by I Love Lucy creator Jess Oppenheimer, broadcast by NBC on November 11, 1962, and commended by the Television Academy with three Emmy noms.

It’s a brisk hour with some really fine musical moments — including an opening (“Glory Hallelujah Twist”) for Danny, the ensemble, and a dancing Lucy; a parody of variety shows (where Lucy imitates Judy Garland, Carol Channing, and Marlene Dietrich, while Danny does a progressively drunker Dean Martin); and a rousing finale for Danny and the dancers to “Cotton Fields.” The main attraction for us Lucy fans, though, is an extended sketch sequence (by Ernest Chambers and Herbert Baker) in which the two leads have trouble at a Japanese teahouse (’cause of those darn chopsticks!), a French restaurant (where they get drunk on the salad dressing), and a Tahitian place (where the atmosphere is quite jungle-y). The drunk bit is the most amusing — it goes on for a while, but the leads sell it. And good news: for subscribers who comment below, I have the full 21-minute restaurant skit in color. (This is currently available to view online, but now’s your chance, you critics and scholars, to have a copy of it.)

I also have a copy of the FULL special — the bulk of which has never been made available. (Unlike the above excerpt, it’s in poor black-and-white quality. Sorry; until this starry delight sees a proper studio release, we beggars can’t be choosers.) And trust me, folks, this is a rip-roarin’ show that deserves to see the light of day… So, for critics and scholars of vintage entertainment — who have no commercial designs on this material — comment below (and subscribe, if you haven’t already) to see this spectacular treat. In the meantime, here’s a clip…



Come back next week for another Wildcard! And stay tuned Tuesday for more Friends!