When Arts columnist Brian Brennan asked the then 66-year-old Victor Borge why he continued to maintain a heavy touring schedule despite a health problem that had forced him to temporarily stop performing, the Danish-born entertainer had a simple answer: “I travel because people don’t come to me.” An excerpt of Brennan’s Brief Encounters column, The clown prince of music: Victor Borge:
Victor Borge had been a child prodigy on his way to becoming a concert pianist when he discovered a flair for comedy that sent him off in another direction and brought him international fame. When I met him 40 years ago, in 1975, he had been on the road for 40 years, mixing classical music with satire and impressing audiences with his talent for both. At age 66, he was still performing 150 shows a year despite having been forced to stop playing temporarily due to paralysis in his left arm.
I asked him if he was thinking of retiring. “Retiring from what?” he replied. “Retiring from life? Performing is my life. A lot of people retire because they’re forced to, and then keep regretting it for the rest of their lives.”
The problem with his left arm had been a shocker, Borge said, because for three weeks in the hospital he wasn’t able to move it. “It scared the hell out of me. I had to cancel a concert for the first time in my life. The newspaper in Wichita didn’t like it, but what did they expect?” Log in to continue reading The clown prince of music: Victor Borge (subscription*)
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