Victor Borge

Musical humorist Victor Borge was born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen, Denmark on January 3, 1909; the son of a violinist in the Danish Symphony Orchestra, he began playing piano at age three, and was quickly hailed as a child prodigy. On scholarship at the Royal Danish Music Conservatory, he studied under Olivo Krause and Victor Schiøler, later becoming a protégé of Frederic Lamond and Egon Petri; in 1926, Borge made his professional debut, and by the following decade ranked among the top stage and film stars in all of Scandinavia. His performances always maintained a satirical bent, adopting an increasingly acrid sensibility as the Nazis began sweeping through Europe; Borge, a Jew, regularly mocked Hitler from the stage, and when the German forces invaded Denmark in 1940 the pianist was briefly blacklisted before fleeing to the United States, escaping from Finland via the S. S. American Legion, the last American passenger ship to leave Northern Europe prior to World War II.