Friday, October 12, 2012

I'm Hans Christian Andersen

I've always been a lover of fairy tales. I inhaled them as a child, and now as an adult, I'm drawn to television shows and films based on those familiar stories. While the Grimm Brothers fairy tales were king in many households including mine, we also loved Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish author of such tales as "The Little Mermaid," "The Snow Queen," and my favorite of his tales, "The Ugly Duckling."

To be honest, my love of Anderson's stories is due to my love of another person -- the actor, singer, dancer and comedian Danny Kaye. My sister and I watched any movie starring Danny Kaye. We just loved his silliness and effervescence. Watching him perform always made us feel happier and more joyful.

Kaye starred with Bing Crosby in our Christmas favorite, "White Christmas," but it was his turn as Hans Christian Anderson in the 1952 fairy tale musical of Andersen's stories that stayed with me. Whenever I think of Andersen's story of "The Ugly Duckling," I always hear Kaye singing the song of that story from the film in my head. Decades later, I can still here the melody, lyrics and Kaye's voice in my memory. It's remarkable.

So when my sister and I came across this sculpture of Andersen and the Ugly Duckling in Central Park,  I needed to stop. As I photographed the statue, I reminisced about the author and his imaginative tales, but also replayed my childhood friend, Danny Kaye, singing that beloved song to a self-conscious little boy. "There once was an ugly duckling ..."

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