Individual 1981

Personal Award: Danny Kaye for “An Evening With Danny Kaye and the New York Philharmonic; Zubin Metha, Music Director” and “Skokie”

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, PBS, Titus Productions, CBS-TV

The very mention of the name Danny Kaye evokes smiles. He is internationally recognized for his humor and comedy. This Peabody Award recognizes Danny Kaye not only for being an outstanding comedian but for being a superb actor. His versatility is evident this year in two major television productions: An Evening With Danny Kaye and the New York Philharmonic (produced for PBS by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Zubin Mehta, musical director), and Skokie (a CBS-TV special produced by Titus Productions). As guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Kaye kept a white-tie audience in stitches with his hilarious antics. This program was entertainment of the highest order and proved that Kaye really can conduct an orchestra—and raise money in the bargain. There was nothing funny about “Skokie.” As a Jewish, Nazi-concentration camp survivor who was troubled by the planned march of the National Socialist Party of America through Skokie, Illinois, Kaye’s character had to deal with all the complexities of freedom of speech that cut across religious, legal, political and family lines. His performance was magnificent. The tragedy of the explosive situation gave full play to his acting abilities. He responded with unforgettable effectiveness. For virtuoso performances and versatility as a superb clown and as a sensitive dramatic actor, Danny Kaye is recognized once again with a Peabody Award.