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Copenhagen, Denmark
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Copenhagen, Denmark

Borge Rosenbaum, sometimes known as Victor Borge, was an American pianist, music conductor, and comedian who was reportedly referred to by the Washington Post as “the world’s funniest pianist.” His one-man show ‘Comedy in Music’ was the longest-running show in the history of theatre, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Borge was renowned for amusing his audience with a peculiar blend of comedy and music. He was born in Denmark to a family of musicians, who instilled in him an early appreciation for music. During World War II, he was forced to flee to America, where he had to swiftly adapt to the American way of life and the American sense of humor in order to establish his reputation in the entertainment industry. He became a television phenomenon with ‘The Victor Borge Show’ and his numerous television appearances on shows such as ‘Toast of the Town,’ ‘Sesame Street,’ etc. Borge remained in the entertainment industry for 75 years and continued traveling 60 times a year until the age of 90.

Childhood & Early Life

Victor Borge was born in Copenhagen, Denmark into a Jewish household to Bernhard and Frederikke Rosenbaum. Both his parents were musicians; his mother was a pianist and his father a violist in the Royal Danish Orchestra.

Growing up in a musically interested household meant that Borge was exposed to the notion of it from a very young age and he was given piano lessons from the age of two. By the time he was eight years old, he gave his first piano recital.

Being a prodigy in piano, just like his mother, he was offered a full scholarship at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in 1918. He was taught by Olivo Krause, Victor Schioler, Liszt’s disciple Fredric Lamond and Busoni’s student Egon Petri.

Victor Borge’s Career

In 1926, Borge played his first big concert at the Danish Concert hall’s The Old Fellow’s Lodge building. Within a few years, he started merging his comedy skills with music and started having ‘stand-up’ acts, which were a fusion of music and humor.

Borge came to America in 1940, owing to the Nazis’ control of Denmark during World War II. He did not know how to talk in English when he first got to America but rapidly acquired the language to adapt his gags to the American setting.

He became a part of Rudy Vallee’s radio show in 1941. Rudy Valle was an American singer, actor, bandleader, and performer. Soon thereafter Borge was hired by Bing Crosby—an American singer and actor—for his Kraft Music Hall.

In the years that followed, Borge was recognized for his talent and performances of music infused with humor. In 1942, he earned the award for Best New Radio Performer of the Year. He rose to prominence in the entertainment world and began receiving film offers.

In 1946, he began gaining increasing fame and reputation in the industry, mostly due to the success of his NBC show, The Victor Borge Show. During its run on television, Borge acquired several of his comic signatures.

Borge joined Ed Sullivan, an artist, writer, and television host, on Toast of the Town, one of the best TV variety shows of all time, on numerous occasions in 1948. In the same year, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Borge co-founded the American Pianists Association in 1979 along with Julius Bloom and Anthony P. Habig. The Association organizes two significant piano contests, the Classical Fellowship Awards, and the Jazz Fellowship Awards.

From that point forward, Borge became a massive entertainment phenomenon in the United States and was in demand everywhere; hence, he performed numerous tours and shows around the country. He has also conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Danish Orchestra, and others.

Borge stayed in touch with the television world by appearing on shows such as ‘The Electronic Company,’ ‘Sesame Street,’ ‘The Muppet Show,’ ‘What’s My Line?’ etc. His extraordinary blend of humor and song made him especially popular with small children.

Victor’s Major Effort

In 1953, at the John Golden Theatre in New York City, he debuted Comedy in Music, an original Broadway comedy that became the longest-running one-man show in theatre history. It performed a total of 849 times and was included in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Personal History and Legacy

Borge married Elsie Chilton in 1933 and adopted Ronald and Janet with her. However, the marriage did not survive long, and in 1953 he remarried Sarabel Scraper and had two children with her: Victor and Frederikke.

Borge died in his sleep at the age of 91 in Greenwich, Connecticut in the year 2000. The other half of his ashes are placed at the Western Jewish Cemetery in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Estimated Net Worth

Victor Borge was a pianist, conductor, and comedian from Denmark who was worth $10 million. Victor Borge was born in January 1909 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and he died in December 2000. Borge was very successful in both Europe and the United States.


In 1998, the Royal Danish Orchestra commemorated its 550th anniversary by naming Borge an honorary member.