The Liberty Gazette
February 26, 2019Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Although David Daniel Kaminsky was the class clown, important things mattered. Since he quit school, he had to find another venue for his love of entertaining. He held a few misfit jobs on his way to the stage, like watching over a dentist’s office during the lunch hour. He was fired when his employer returned to find him using his drill on office woodwork.
But the real calling he felt ever since he was just a boy was to make people laugh, to calm their fears, to give them an escape to happiness, if only for a little while. He would change his Jewish name to Danny Kaye, but he refused to get the nose job the studio asked him to have.
The success of Danny Kaye is too long a list for this space. Besides being an Academy Award winner, he was a chef, a spokesman for UNICEF, a huge baseball fan, and an avid golfer. That is, until he learned to fly. From that moment on, golf didn’t rank. You can see what made the cut by the carvings on the bench at his grave: a baseball and bat, a piano, a flower pot, musical notes, a chef’s hat, and an airplane.
Bill Lear, maker of the infamous Learjet, gave Danny the honorary title of Vice President of Learjet, but told him not to worry about any job responsibilities, like building jets or anything. Maybe Danny’s wife had warned him about what happened to the dentist’s office in Danny’s younger days. She knew. That dentist was her dad.
Danny had become a millionaire making people laugh. To calm a nervous, captive crowd after a typhoon hit the hotel he was staying at in Osaka, Japan, he went on stage with a flashlight lighting his face and sang every song he could recall.
He gave his best and expected the same out of others—especially his fellow pilots.
An old friend of mine was flying for TWA as a first officer on the Boeing 727. On a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the plane was no sooner airborne, gear pulled up into the gear wells, when the captain picked up the mic, and proceeded to give a “tour” of San Francisco from the air. The captain didn’t put the plane on autopilot but was hand-flying it as he pointed out the sights. My old friend kept asking, “Do you want me to fly while you’re doing this?” No, the captain replied. After they arrived in Los Angeles, taxied in and parked at gate, as soon as parking brake on, the captain hopped out of his seat, opened the door and stood at the exit, expecting accolades from his passengers.
Instead, Danny Kaye walked up and chewed him out. “That was the most unprofessional thing I have ever heard! You weren’t even barely off the ground when you started talking. You should have been flying, not talking!”
Good job, Danny. Bloated egos make people do stupid things.