Stubby Kaye

Sunny, lovable tenor Stubby Kaye with his butterball frame kept his real name a secret for his entire career. He was born Bernard Katzin in New York and started off in the world of entertainment in 1939 after winning a radio contest. Touring as a comedian in vaudeville for over a decade, he also appeared regularly with the USO during the war years. He finally hit it big on Broadway in 1950 when he created the role of Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the smash musical hit “Guys and Dolls” singing his rousing show-stoppers “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” and “Fugue for Tinhorns”. He solidified his status a few years later as Marryin’ Sam in “Li’l Abner” in 1956. He preserved both of these signature roles on film.

Other stage musicals sparked by his presence included “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Good News” and “Grind”. In the 60s Stubby had his own kiddie show and appeared to comical effect in other films as well, including The Cool Mikado (1963), Sex and the Single Girl (1964), Cat Ballou (1965), The Way West (1967) and Sweet Charity (1969). Nightclubs and TV were also an integral part of his career. He lived for a time in England, marrying Angela Bracewell, then a hostess on Val Parnell’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium (1955), and established a growing list of fans there as well. His last featured role was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). His final years were spent in ill health, dying in 1997 of lung cancer.

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