Borge’s daughter, Rikke Borge, said her father died peacefully in his sleep at his home as the family was gathering to celebrate Christmas. He had just returned from a trip to Copenhagen, the city of his birth. For decades, Borge delighted audiences by deflating the pomposity of classical music. He fell off his bench, played music upside down and repeatedly milked laughs from such classic routines as “phonetic punctuation” in which he used goofy sounds to indicate commas, periods and question marks in his monologue.

“I think he brought laughter to every person he came in contact with,” Rikke Borge said Saturday. “He had a long and happy life.”

Borge kept up a busy career into his 80s, touring and issuing videos, including his most popular, “The Best of Victor Borge,” which sold some 3 million copies. His longtime agent, Bernard Gurtman, said he had had concerts booked for the next two years.

Borge performed 100 or more nights a year, sometimes as pianist and sometimes as conductor, usually as a clown but sometimes in dead earnest. In his later years, he directed Mozart’s “Magic Flute” in Cleveland and prepared a concert version of “Carmen.”

In 1999, he was one of five performers selected for the Kennedy Center Honors.

“He was an incredible human being,” said Niels Joergen Kaiser, a close friend of Borge’s in Denmark who wrote the entertainer’s 1999 biography. “He was gifted. He was able to combine musicality and humor.”

Borge was born Jan. 3, 1909, as Boerge Rosenbaum to a family of musicians. He learned English by spending day after day in movie theaters and memorized some of his routines phonetically. Rudy Vallee later gave him a shot at radio, and he became a regular on Bing Crosby’s “Kraft Music Hall.”

He changed his name to Victor Borge when he came to America because it sounded more American and was easier to pronounce, his daughter said.

As a child, Borge spent hours at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen where his father, Berhard Rosenbaum, was a violinist. A few years ago, Borge returned to the theater to fulfill a longtime dream of conducting the Royal Theater’s symphony orchestra. He was scheduled to conduct there again in 2001.

Borge made his concert debut as a pianist at age 13, but his friends knew him as a parlor comedian. In 1931, a new career opened when he wrote the music for an amateur show and then substituted for the star.

Borge often made Adolf Hitler a butt of his jokes, and he was fortunate to be in Sweden when the Nazis invaded Denmark in 1940. Soon after, he and his American wife, Elsie, left for the United States, arriving with nothing but their Scottish terrier.

In an Associated Press interview when he was 80, Borge said “luck, good fortune and stamina” kept him performing.

“I never have to get `up’ for a performance,” he said. “The moment I walk on the stage, no matter what my mood, if I have any regrets or feel sick or in pain, all that disappears. That is when the climax of my day occurs.”

“We should remember him with a smile,” Kaiser said Saturday, adding a much-repeated quote of Borge’s and title of his biography: “The smile is the shortest way between people.”

Borge is survived by five children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His second wife, Sarabel, died in September at the age of 83.