Borge Rosenbaum was born on January 3, 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The pianist, composer, songwriter, entertainer and actor,was educated at Borgerdydskolen and the Conservatory of Copenhagen where he studied with Egon Petri and Frederic Lammond. His concert career began in 1922. On December 24, 1933 he married Elsie Chilton. He performed in a musical revue in 1934, and in films by 1937.
Borge publicly derided Hitler, and narrowly escaped to America in 1940 when the Germans invaded Denmark, acquiring an America visa since he was married to an American woman. He made his American radio debut on the Bing Crosby show. He was featured in his own one-man show "Comedy in Music", plus concert appearances throughout the USA and Europe.
Borge was host for the first US telecast of the 1952 Danny Kaye film, "Hans Christian Andersen".
Also in 1952, he wrote an article which appeared in the Fabulous Las Vegas magazine:
"With so many panel shows, everybody asks questions these days. Perhaps you might enjoy some that came my way in that last few weeks.
Question: What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you on television?
Answer: The funniest thing in TV happened on radio. Yes, a few months ago on Tallulah's show. I was leaning backwards from the piano. Some people say I do this because I hate music. That's wrong - I always exercise to music and like people to watch. Tallulah was sitting in an arm-chair about four feet back of me, probably entranced. But as my head went back, she grabbed it and held on. She's quick! Tallu held my head for two or three days, or so it seemed, because my back was almost broken, and Chopin was waiting. The audience howled. It was perfect TV but wasted on radio. When I got straightened up all I could say was "Man overboard, with broken back." On television that wrestling would have continued for some crazy ad-libs.
Question: How long have you lived in America?
Answer: 11 years if you count the first one when I died of starvation. Ever since then I have been allergic to no food.
Question: Does America still seem strange to you?
Answer: Only when I hear other comedians. Some other occasions too. For year I lived in the San Fernando Valley, next to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Swimming pools grow out there but I never had one. Now I am lord of a pheasant farm in Connecticut and I've got a pool. Who in the world ever heard of a swimming pool in Connecticut, except in America?
Question: What do you know about raising pheasants?
Answer: Nothing. Cut you would be surprised - the pheasants know plenty about that.
Question: Have you ever been hurt falling off the piano bench?
Answer: Only when I hit the floor. If you want to try it, train first as a wrestler. Any TV set will serve as a gymnasium. But recently, in the Philadelphia Municipal Stadium, on a show with TV people, I played the piano 20 fee in the air. My platform was on top of a truck - that's where I did an impression of Johnnie Ray. I fell to the floor and continued rolling right over the edge, 20 feet to the grass. The 92,000 people there thought it was in the act but I almost broke my neck. I remember someone yelling, "You fell for yourself that time."
Question: Do you think our TV sets will elect the next president?
Answer: Only if they are 21 years of age of older.
Question: Do you enjoy making a burlesque of music immortals?
Answer: Burlesque? What has Gypsy Rose Lee got to do with this?
Question: Why don't you play more "straight" music?
Answer: It's written crooked, isn't it? Why doesn't Durante Chop off the Schnozzola? Let's play a little game. You name one pianist, one violinist, one piccolo player, any instrumentalist, who was ever built up by radio or TV the way Crosby, Sinatra or Como were. Ask your favorite panel that one. When you get the answer send it to me, and I'll come to your house and play straight any day.
Question: Would you rather be a Horowitz or a musical satirist?
Answer: I have no choice - I am a Borge. A few days ago in New Orleans, TV critic Ed Brooks came to a pop concert and had a fine time. He wrote a nice notice and added, 'Borge is no Horowitz but who cares when he can do what no other concert pianist can do: Make an audience laugh like crazy.' That night I told the audience that according to the paper, 'I am no Horowitz. How grateful I am for that. Because it would have been extremely embarrassing for my father as well as for my mother if I had been a Horowitz!'"
In 1953, Borge married Sarabel Sanna Scraper and stayed married to her until her death in 2000. Also during this year he starred in the one-man Broadway production "Comedy in Music", in which he toured off and on, until his retirement. This was a show in which Borge often announced he was going to play a piece, but seldom actually got around to doing it because of his hilarious comments to the audience. The show went through several editions over the years, but always retained some of the same comic remarks.
Borge joining the ASCAP in 1961 and he composed "Blue Serenade".
He was the voiceover artist for the Heineken beer adverts in the UK during the 1970s. 'Heineken does this because it refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach.'
Recipient of 22nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contribution to arts and culture, presented by President Clinton in Wash DC, Dec. 5, 1999.
One of his famous skits involves "phonetic punctuation", in which he accents commas, question marks and periods with sound effects.
He is the founder of the Thanks to Scandinavia Foundation
Father of Rikke Borge, who played Sandra in Tattoo (1981), Heather Wilson in Still of the Night (1982); and Joyce in Amityville 3-D (1983).
Borge performed in the following: The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1999); Borge for Alvor (1998); Comic Relief VI (1994); Victor Borges Tivoli 150 år (1993) (TV); A Place of Dreams: Carnegie Hall at 100 (1991); Koncert med Victor Borge (1984); The King of Comedy (1983); The 36th Annual Tony Awards (1982); The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1981); Carpenters Very First Television Special (1976); "The Complete Victor Borge" (1974); An Evening with Victor Borge; "The Victor Borge Show" (1951); I folkets navn (1938) (as Børge Rosenbaum); Ed Sullivan All-Star Comedy Special (1995); "The Big Show" playing "Host" (1980); "The Muppet Show" playing "Himself" 1979; "Tyve femten" playing "Himself" (1971); "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" playing "Himself" (June & October 1971); "The Merv Griffin Show" playing "Himself" (1963 & 1970); "The Andy Williams Show" playing "Himself" (1969); "The Dean Martin Show" playing "Himself" (January & April 1969); "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" playing "Himself (1968); "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." playing "Dr. Rutter" (1967); "The Hollywood Palace" playing "Himself" (1966); "The Bell Telephone Hour" playing "Host" in episode: "Borge & Company" (1965); "What's My Line?" (1952, 1954, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965); "I've Got a Secret" (1960 & 1962); "Toast of the Town" playing "Himself" (1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957 & 1958); "Cavalcade of Stars" playing "Himself" (1950);
Borge died on December 23, 2000 at Greenwich, Connecticut, of heart failure.