Victor Borge

Comedian / Pianist
Date Of Birth:
3 January 1909
Date Of Death:
23 December 2000
heart failure
Place Of Birth:
Copenhagen, Denmark
Best Known As:
The witty pianist who created Comedy in Music

Name at birth: Børge Rosenbaum

Victor Borge was once called "the funniest pianist on Earth" by The Washington Post. He toured the world for decades with his popular one-man show, which mixed classical piano performance with quips, wordplay and pratfalls. Borge's dour Scandinavian face and formal dress set the stage for the sly hijinks to come: he would comically mangle classic tunes, make faces, or simply stop at the keyboard to tell jokes. Victor Borge was a child prodigy who trained at the Danish Royal Academy of Music. He performed first as a serious classical pianist, but his talent for whimsy overtook the music. By the time he fled Denmark for the United States at the start of World War II, Borge was known best as a comedian. In America he learned English, took the name Victor Borge, and became a popular radio star. His own one-man Broadway show followed: Comedy in Music ran for 849 performances from 1953-56. During the 1960s and '70s he was a familiar face on TV talk and variety shows, including The Dean Martin Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Besides musical jokes, Borge also created read-aloud gags like phonetic punctuation (with Borge reading each period aloud as "phwwt!") and the so-called "inflationary" language, in which "tomorrow" became "threemorrow" and "What for?" became "What five?" Borge never lost his classical chops, sometimes serving as a serious (or nearly serious) guest conductor for major orchestras, and he continued to tour the world until just before his death. Borge published the memoirs My Favorite Intermissions (1971) and My Favorite Comedies in Music (1980).
Extra Credit:

Victor Borge became a U.S. citizen in 1948… He was knighted by Denmark and each of the other four Scandinavian countries; he quipped, “After I was knighted five times, I became a weekend”… Victor Borge married American Elsie Chilton in 1933; that marriage ended in divorce and in 1953 he married his manager, Sanna Roach. They were married until her death, three months before Borge, in 2000.

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