“Twenty-five years ago last Thursday night at 9 o’clock ‘The World’s Finest Theater,’ the B.F. Keith’s Palace Theater, presented its initial program to a house packed with Clevelanders, plus state officials and a trainload of prominent New Yorkers,” wrote The Plain Dealer critic W. Ward Marsh on Nov. 9, 1947. “Since then there has been no ‘theater night’ in Cleveland to equal it.”
But they tried their hardest while celebrating the theater’s 25th anniversary, even postponing festivities an extra week for the arrival of Danny Kaye.
Kaye, the son of Ukrainian immigrants, had aspired to medicine but was unable to afford higher education. He started performing in resorts in New York’s Catskill Mountains and later appeared on stage and in nightclubs, his pratfalls and physical comedy reducing audiences to tears of laughter. In 1945, Kaye launched a radio show on CBS, and his arrival in Cleveland was just a week before his latest movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, would debut at the Allen Theatre.
Kaye made an “unintentional prima donna entrance into Cleveland,” Marsh wrote, a day later than scheduled. (He’d been forced by bad weather to make the trip by train, not plane.)
“It was unquestionably the most amusing and certainly the most intimate and most informal show the Palace has offered in the 25 years of its existence,” Marsh wrote in a review. “Kaye pulled out all stops and gave everything he had to the crowd. What a show!”
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