Kaye's daughter Dena seeks to spread his legacy

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NEW YORK — Dena Kaye frequently hears from people who have vivid stories about how her legendary father, Danny Kaye, affected their lives.

Whether it was through his movie performances, which ranged from slapstick to dramatic, or his crooning voice, his effortless dancing or his charitable works, for many, Kaye provided indelible memories that continue to be cherished to this day.

But as Dena Kaye explains, those comments are usually from those of a “certain generation” — translation, an older generation. Those fans were around when classics like “White Christmas” or his television shows and specials or his music were in the public consciousness.

Now, in the 100th year of his birth, Dena Kaye is determined to help a new generation discover the genius, and the generosity, of her father, who died in 1987 at age 74.

“That’s one of the reasons why I am putting my heart into this centennial,” said Kaye, her father’s only child, during an interview. “My goal is the centennial is a springboard. And that if parents knew him, the fact that there’s going to be more interest in him, that they’ll take their children, their grandchildren.”

So, Danny Kaye is now on Facebook with an official page. His website has been relaunched with plenty of multimedia. The Library of Congress unveiled its new Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Collection, where countless documents, including video, audio and photographs from Dena’s parents’ own collection, are available for examination on the Internet.

There are also numerous concerts, tributes, and film screenings planned throughout the yearlong celebration, which officially kicked off last December (and included a Los Angeles-area screening of the classic “White Christmas,” complete with man-made snow).

“Ultimately what’s going to make this centennial successful in my mind is that the movies are out, the DVDs are out — that people see him,” said Dena, a journalist. “You know, it’s one thing to be honored at a dinner, but really, the point is for people to experience (him),” she said.

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