Hans Christian Andersen, referred to using the initials H. C. Andersen in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia; April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875) was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children’s stories. These include “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” “The Snow Queen,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Match Girl,” and “The Ugly Duckling.”

During his lifetime he was acclaimed for having delighted children worldwide, and was feted by royalty. His poetry and stories have been translated into more than 150 languages. They have inspired motion pictures, plays, ballets, and animated films.

It was during 1835 that Andersen published the first installment of his immortal Fairy Tales (Danish: ‘´’Eventyr). More stories, completing the first volume, were published in 1836 and 1837. The quality of these stories was not immediately recognized, and they sold poorly. At the same time, Andersen enjoyed more success with two novels: O.T. (1836) and Only a Fiddler.

Popular entertainer Victor Borge reads a collection of classic stories by fellow Danish countryman and beloved children’s author Hans Christian Andersen. Colorful drawings and Borge’s lively narration and music bring Andersen’s tales to life. Stories include “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” “The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep” and “Father’s Always Right.”

Victor Borge 3 January 1909 – 23 December 2000, born Børge Rosenbaum, was a Danish comedian, conductor and pianist, affectionately known as The Clown Prince of Denmark, The Unmelancholy Dane, and The Great Dane.

Borge was born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen, Denmark, into a Jewish family. His parents, Bernhard and Frederikke Rosenbaum, were both musicians—his father a violist in the Royal Danish Orchestra and his mother a pianist. Like his mother, Borge began piano lessons at the age of two, and it was soon apparent that he was a prodigy. He gave his first piano recital when he was eight years old, and in 1918 was awarded a full scholarship at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, studying under Olivo Krause. Later on, he was taught by Victor Schiøler, Liszt’s student Frederic Lamond, and Busoni’s pupil Egon Petri.

Borge played his first major concert in 1926 at the Danish concert-hall Odd Fellow Palæet (The Odd Fellow’s Lodge building). After a few years as a classical concert pianist, he started his now famous “stand up” act, with the signature blend of piano music and jokes. He married American Elsie Chilton in 1933, the same year he debuted with his revue acts. Borge started touring extensively in Europe, where he began telling anti-Nazi jokes.

When the Nazis occupied Denmark during World War II, Borge was playing a concert in Sweden, and managed to escape to Finland. He traveled to America on the USS American Legion, the last neutral ship to make it out of Petsamo, Finland, and arrived 28 August 1940, with only 20 dollars (equal to $332 today), with $3 (equal to $49.77 today) going to the customs fee. Disguised as a sailor, Borge returned to Denmark once during the occupation to visit his dying mother.

Even though Borge did not speak a word of English upon arrival, he quickly managed to adapt his jokes to the American audience, learning English by watching movies. He took the name of Victor Borge, and, in 1941, he started on Rudy Vallee’s radio show, but was hired soon after by Bing Crosby for his Kraft Music Hall.

From then on, fame rose quickly for Borge, who won Best New Radio Performer of the Year in 1942. Soon after the award, he was offered film roles with stars such as Frank Sinatra (in Higher and Higher). While hosting The Victor Borge Show on NBC beginning in 1946, he developed many of his trademarks, including repeatedly announcing his intent to play a piece but getting “distracted” by something or other, making comments about the audience, or discussing the usefulness of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” as an egg timer. Or he would start out with some well-known classical piece like Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and suddenly move into a harmonically suitable pop or jazz tune like Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” or “Happy Birthday to You”.

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