Tag Archives: Grand Central Hotel

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.


Gene Kelly, Glasgow, 1953

13 Feb

Gene Kelly, Gordon Street, Glasgow, April 21 1953 (c) Herald & Times Group

Gene Kelly may have been at the peak of his fame and popularity in 1953, but when he stepped out of Glasgow’s Central Hotel and into the morning sunshine on Gordon Street in his tweed coat and bunnet, he went virtually unnoticed by passers-by.

The 40-year-old Singing in the Rain star had motored up overnight from London with the celebrated MGM producer Arthur Freed for a brief visit to Scotland. After a quick chat with Evening Times film critic Tom Goldie, the Americans set off for a tour of Burns country and the Trossachs to soak up the atmosphere and seek out inspiration for their next collaboration – a movie version of the Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon, a fantasy set in Scotland.

Following their reccie, Kelly said: “I had looked forward to making Brigadoon in Scotland. Now that I’ve seen even a little bit of your country I’m sorrier than ever that plans have had to be changed. But a picture like this has to be made in the new big-screen Cinemascope system that gives an impression of depth, and it has to be done in Hollywood.”

He did at least promise that backgrounds would be photographed in Scotland – and that they had been sussing out ideas for these during their trip which would continue with a visit to Edinburgh and a tour of the Highlands.

And for entertainment on his night on the town in Glasgow? Dance-mad Kelly went to the Theatre Royal, where he parked his bunnet in a box, to see the Celtic Ballet featuring Andrew Rolla, who danced the principal part in the touring stage production of Brigadoon. Promising to return during the summer, Kelly said: “You know, this Scotland of yours is quite the loveliest country I’ve seen. This is my first visit – but,” he added with a wink, “it won’t be my last.”

(c) Alison Kerr, 2012

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