Affectionately known as “The Great Dane,” Victor Borge was a unique combination of musician, humorist, and humanitarian. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, the American-Scandinavian Foundation presents Victor Borge: A Centennial Exhibition at Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America. On view through May 2, 2009, this significant exhibition explores his life and achievements through a collection of film clips, recordings, photographs and memorabilia from Borge’s personal archives.
In the nearly 70 years that he lived in the United States, Victor Borge performed on the radio, in films, on television, in opera houses, sports arenas, and the White House. In 1956, he secured a permanent place in Broadway history with his Comedy In Music, which still holds the record for the longest-running one-man show.
Distinctively Danish, his comedy encouraged audience interaction and found humor in the mundane. Mr. Borge effectively used physical and visual elements during his live and televised performances, maintaining a consistent, dynamic energy and high level of spontaneity, marked by impeccable timing and highly developed musicality.
Recognized as an ambassador of goodwill in both his native Denmark and his adopted America, Borge was knighted by the five Nordic countries and honored by both the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 1999 and was awarded the Medal of Honor by the Statue of Liberty Centennial Committee.
Born Børge Rosenbaum in Denmark on January 3, 1909, Mr. Borge trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and began his career in Denmark in the 1930s. While touring in Sweden, the Third Reich invaded Denmark, rendering it impossible for Borge to return and resume his career there. He left for the United States a few months later aboard the USS American Legion (the last passenger ship to leave Europe for America at the onset of World War II), arriving stateside on August 28, 1940.
Through his career and his humanitarian efforts, Victor Borge influenced the lives of countless Americans and Scandinavians alike. A strong proponent of Danish-American friendship, he opened the eyes of many Americans to Danish culture.