Sunday marked the 32nd anniversary of the death of Danny Kaye, who had a series of leading Hollywood roles in the 1940s and 50s, in addition to a successful career onstage and on television. In 1956, he made the first of many visits to Israel, a country he supported staunchly throughout his life. Meirav Kaminsky—the granddaughter of Kaye’s Israeli cousin—describes Kaye’s commitment to the Jewish people and the Jewish state:
[Kaye] is fondly remembered for having conducted the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at a number of benefit performances for Israel, which he . . . unconditionally supported during difficult periods, including wartime. . . .
In the . . . television drama Skokie (1981), based on a true story, Kaye played the role of Max Feldman, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who was one of the leaders of the protest against the proposed neo-Nazi march through the suburb of Skokie, Illinois, home to many Jewish Holocaust survivors. The elderly Kaye was already suffering from heart disease, but he insisted on playing the part despite his declining health. . . .
On leaving Israel after his first visit, he said:
As the moment of my leaving this country approaches, I am filled with more and more sadness. I want you to know that I leave Israel a different man than when I arrived. My visit to Israel was the greatest experience of my life. I was given a new perspective. My faith is renewed. . . . I plan to return to Israel soon, maybe even sooner than you think. But then I won’t come as a representative of the UN or as an American “star,” or even as a tourist—I will come as a simple Jew.