VICTOR BORGE (b 1909 )
Victor Borge, often called ‘The Clown Prince of Denmark’, was born Victor Borge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen on 3 January 1909. Born into a musical family, his father was a professional violinist at the Royal Danish Philharmonic Orchestra, his mother a pianist, Borge began playing the piano at three. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music became a highly skilled pianist, but he left the serious classical world to become a comedian on stage and screen. When Germany invaded Denmark in 1940, Borge, a Jew who had publicly ridiculed the Nazis, escaped to America on the last passenger ship to sail from Europe in WWII.
Initially speaking no English, he taught himself the language by watching movies. He made his US debut on Rudy Vallee’s radio show, then was hired by Bing Crosby for his Kraft Music Hall. In 1943 he appeared with Frank Sinatra in the film Higher and Higher, and in 1946 launched The Victor Borge Show on NBC, later transferring to television with great success. His famous and clownesque Comedy in Music show ran 849 performances, becoming Broadway’s longest running one man show. For five decades Victor Borge continued performing around the world and had just completed a 60 date tour when he died peacefully at home in December 2000. He was 91.