Danny Kaye, Glasgow, 1949

18 Jan

Danny Kaye 1949No movie star enjoyed a welcome quite like the one accorded to Danny Kaye on his first visit to Glasgow, when he came to perform at the Empire Theatre June 1949. A record crowd of 10,000 people turned out to greet the flame-haired 36-year-old who was accompanied on his passage through Central Station by pipers while police stood shoulder-to-shoulder in front of crash barriers in an attempt to keep screaming teenage girls from rushing at the lanky star as he blew kisses to them and addressed them through a microphone.

No sooner was he safely inside the Central Hotel than Kaye climbed out on to a ledge on the second floor. He entertained the thousands packed into Hope Street with a little jig before sitting down, legs dangling over the side of the ledge, to thank them for their warm welcome. He then ran through to a back window, and repeated the performance for the benefit of the fans inside the station, telling them: “This is something I’ll never forget. If your golf courses are as easy as ours, I’ll move here for good.”

Kaye, it turned out, was golf-mad. Just hours before his sensational opening night at the Empire, he squeezed in a round at Douglas Park Golf Club in Bearsden, and the next day he visited John Letters where he was reported to have “come close to crooning a lullaby” to the driver of the new set of clubs he was buying. Three days later, he had the chance to give them a test run at Gleneagles.

Kaye interrupted that particular round, however, to read the now-historic report of the Californian State Un-American Activities Committee, quoted by Reuters, which named him as a communist sympathiser. “It sounds like a lot of hooey to me,” he commented.

But before going onstage that evening, he told a Bulletin reporter: “I’m very disturbed by the report. The whole thing is ridiculous. It’s getting so that everybody who voted for Roosevelt is a communist.”

Text (c) Alison Kerr

Photo (c) Herald and Times Group. To order a copy of this photo from The Herald’s photo sales website, click here.

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