4 October 2014

Hello Character

Here is an amusing letter from Danny Kaye to fellow actor and friend Clifton Webb. At the time of writing, Kaye and his wife Sylvia had just moved from New York City to Beverly Hills. Although his new home wasn't as bad as he had thought it would be, Kaye was hit by occasional waves of nostalgia for New York and the people there. Thus, on 26 March 1943 --not wishing to neglect his New York connections-- Danny Kaye wrote Clifton Webb the following letter (or rather, as becomes clear in the final paragraph, dictated the letter to a girl named Jerry):

Source: heritage auctions/ image reproduced with permission


March 26, 1943

Mr. Clifton Webb
Booth Theatre
45th Between Broadway and Eight
New York City

Hello Character:

During this brief respite from my very heavy labors I'm stealing a moment to write you a brief note which I hope you appreciate. I haven't been able to write very much to anyone else because of the tremendous task involved in making a few million dollars for Mr. Goldwyn. But I said to him one morning, I said, "Sam, I simply can't go on this way without writing to Clifton. I feel that he will be terribly hurt and I must keep up my connections in New York, because who knows when I might have to go back to the theatre?" So I'm sending you photographs and a brief biography of myself so you can keep me in mind when you decide to turn producer and use me in one of your glittering successes.

Sylvia and I have a lovely house out here and we enjoy living in it. It would be nice if we had some friends from the East to make it more pleasant, but everyone has been wonderful to us out here, and except for the fact that I get up a couple of times a week with a terrific nostalgia for New York and the people I know and love, it's not as unpleasant as I thought it would be.

Jerry, that's the girl who is writing this letter, is starving. She's drooling from the mouth, her eyes are bulging out of her head, steam is whistling from her nose, and her seat is bouncing up and down with impatience. So before the telephone, the lamp and the typewriter are thrown at me, I'd better say goodbye and tell you that we think of you and miss you and hope we see you soon.

Sylvia and I send our best to you and Mabel.

Love and kisses,

Danny (signed)

917 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, Calif.

*Note: Mabel was Clifton Webb's mother, whom Webb lived with until she died at age 91 (he was 70 at the time himself). Webb was inseparable from his mother and never recovered from her death. 

left: Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine, who were married from 1940 until Kaye's death in 1987; right: Clifton Webb.

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