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Al Jolson
Jolson
(born Asa Yoelson; May 26, 1886 – October 23, 1950) was an American singer, comedian, and stage and film actor. At the peak of his career, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer." His performing style was brash and extroverted, and he popularized a large number of songs that benefited from his "shamelessly sentimental, melodramatic approach."[1] Numerous well-known singers were influenced by his music, including Bing Crosby,[2] Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, David Bowie [3] and others. Dylan once referred to him as "somebody whose life I can feel."[4] Broadway critic Gilbert Seldes
Gilbert Seldes
compared him to the Greek god Pan, claiming that Jolson
Jolson
represented "the concentration of our national health and gaiety."[5] In the 1920s, Jolson
Jolson
was America's most famous and highest-paid entertainer.[6] Between 1911 and 1928, Jolson
Jolson
had nine sell-out Winter Garden shows in a row, more than 80 hit records, and 16 national and international tours. Although best remembered today as the star of the first talking picture, The Jazz
Jazz
Singer (1927), he later starred in a series of successful musical films throughout the 1930s. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was the first star to entertain troops overseas during World War II. After a period of inactivity, his stardom returned with The Jolson Story
The Jolson Story
(1946), for which Larry Parks
Larry Parks
played Jolson, with the singer dubbing for Parks. The formula was repeated in a sequel, Jolson Sings Again
Jolson Sings Again
(1949). In 1950, he again became the first star to entertain GIs on active service in the Korean War, performing 42 shows in 16 days. He died just weeks after returning to the U.S., partly owing to the physical exertion of performing. Defense Secretary George Marshall
George Marshall
posthumously awarded him the Medal of Merit.[7] According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, "Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
was to rock 'n' roll." Being the first popular singer to make a spectacular event out of singing a song, he became a rock star before the dawn of rock music. His specialty was performing on stage runways extending out into the audience. He would run up and down the runway, and across the stage, "teasing, cajoling, and thrilling the audience", often stopping to sing to individual members; all the while the "perspiration would be pouring from his face, and the entire audience would get caught up in the ecstasy of his performance". According to music historian Larry Stempel, "No one had heard anything quite like it before on Broadway." Author Stephen Banfield agreed, writing that Jolson's style was "arguably the single most important factor in defining the modern musical".[5] Jolson
Jolson
also enjoyed performing in blackface makeup, a theatrical convention since the mid-19th century. With his unique and dynamic style of singing black music, such as jazz and blues, he was later credited with single-handedly introducing African-American music
African-American music
to white American audiences. As early as 1911, he became known for fighting against black discrimination on Broadway.

Contents

1 Early life 2 Stage performer

2.1 Burlesque and vaudeville 2.2 Broadway playhouses

2.2.1 Winter Garden Theater 2.2.2 Jolson's own theater

3 Performing in blackface

3.1 As metaphor of mutual suffering 3.2 Relations with African-Americans

4 Movies

4.1 The Jazz
Jazz
Singer

4.1.1 The movie premiere 4.1.2 Introduction of sound 4.1.3 Jewish meanings

4.2 Other feature films

4.2.1 The Singing Fool
The Singing Fool
(1928) 4.2.2 Hallelujah, I'm a Bum/Hallelujah, I'm a Tramp 4.2.3 Wonder Bar
Wonder Bar
(1934) 4.2.4 The Singing Kid
The Singing Kid
(1936) 4.2.5 Rose of Washington Square
Rose of Washington Square
(1939)

4.3 The Jolson
Jolson
Story

4.3.1 Critical observations 4.3.2 Jolson Sings Again
Jolson Sings Again
(1949) 4.3.3 Radio shows 4.3.4 Television work

5 World War II
World War II
and Korean War
Korean War
tours

5.1 World War II 5.2 Korean War

6 Personal life

6.1 Politics 6.2 Married life

6.2.1 Ethel Delmar 6.2.2 Ruby Keeler 6.2.3 Erle Galbraith

6.3 Closeness with his brother Harry

7 Death and commemoration 8 Legacy and influence 9 Filmography 10 Theater 11 Famous songs (partial) 12 Discography 13 Footnotes 14 Further reading 15 External links

Early life[edit]

Al Jolson, circa 1916

Al Jolson
Jolson
was born as Asa Yoelson (Yiddish: אַסאַ יואלסאָן‎) in the Jewish village of Srednike (Yiddish: סרעדניק‎) now known as Seredžius, near Kaunas
Kaunas
in Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire. He was the fifth and youngest child of Moses
Moses
Rubin Yoelson (1858 – December 23, 1945) and Nechama "Naomi" Cantor (1858 – February 6, 1895); his four siblings were Rose, Etta, another sister who died in infancy, and Hirsch (Harry). Jolson
Jolson
claimed not to know when he was born, and later chose to claim he was born on May 26, 1886.[8] His one-time sister-in-law, Margaret Weatherwax (a sister of Ruby Keeler), claimed Jolson
Jolson
was the same age as their father, Ralph (who was born in 1881), and that Jolson
Jolson
was 46 when he married the 18-year-old Ruby in 1928.[citation needed] In 1891, his father, who was qualified as a rabbi and cantor, moved to New York to secure a better future for his family. By 1894, Moses Yoelson could afford to pay the fare to bring Naomi and their four children to the U.S. By the time they arrived, he had found work as a cantor at Talmud Torah Congregation in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood of Washington, D.C., where the family was reunited.[9] Hard times hit the family when his mother, Naomi, died at 37 in early 1895. Following his mother's death, young Asa was in a state of withdrawal for seven months. For a period of time, young Asa spent time at the St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a progressive reformatory/home for orphans run by the Xaverian Brothers in Baltimore (the same school which would later be attended by Babe Ruth). Upon being introduced to show business in 1895 by entertainer Al Reeves, Asa and Hirsch became fascinated by the industry, and by 1897 the brothers were singing for coins on local street corners, using the names "Al" and "Harry". They would usually use the money to buy tickets to shows at the National Theater.[10] Asa and Hirsch spent most of their days working different jobs as a team.[11] Stage performer[edit] Burlesque and vaudeville[edit] In the spring of 1902, he accepted a job with Walter L. Main's Circus. Although Main had hired Jolson
Jolson
as an usher, Main was impressed by Jolson's singing voice and gave him a position as a singer during the circus' Indian Medicine Side Show segment.[12] By the end of the year, the circus had folded and Jolson
Jolson
was again out of work. In May 1903, the head producer of the burlesque show Dainty Duchess Burlesquers agreed to give Jolson
Jolson
a part in one show. Asa gave a remarkable performance of "Be My Baby Bumble Bee" and the producer agreed to keep him for future shows. Unfortunately, the show closed by the end of the year. Asa was able to avoid financial troubles by forming a vaudeville partnership with his brother Hirsch, now a vaudeville performer known as Harry Yoelson. The brothers worked for the William Morris Agency.[13] Asa and Harry soon formed a team with Joe Palmer. During their time with Palmer, they were able to gain bookings in a nationwide tour. However, live performances were falling in popularity as nickelodeons captured audiences; by 1908, nickelodeon theaters were dominant throughout New York City
New York City
as well. While performing in a Brooklyn theater in 1904,[14] Al decided on a new approach and began wearing blackface makeup, which boosted his career. He began wearing blackface in all of his shows.[15] In late 1905, Harry left the trio following an argument with Al. Harry had refused Al's request to take care of Joe Palmer, who was in a wheelchair, while he was dating. After Harry's departure, Al and Joe Palmer worked as a duo but were not particularly successful. By 1906[14] the two agreed to separate, and Jolson
Jolson
was on his own.[16] Jolson
Jolson
became a regular at the Globe and Wigwam Theater in San Francisco, California, and remained successful nationwide as a vaudeville singer.[14] He took up residence in San Francisco, saying the earthquake-devastated people needed someone to cheer them up. In 1908 Jolson, needing money for himself and his new wife, Henrietta, returned to New York. In 1909, Al's singing caught the attention of Lew Dockstader, the producer and star of Dockstader's Minstrels. Al accepted Dockstader's offer and became a regular blackface performer.[17] Broadway playhouses[edit] Winter Garden Theater[edit] According to Esquire magazine, "J.J. Shubert, impressed by Jolson's overpowering display of energy, booked him for La Belle Paree, a musical comedy that opened at the Winter Garden in 1911. Within a month Jolson
Jolson
was a star. From then until 1926, when he retired from the stage, he could boast an unbroken series of smash hits."[18] On March 20, 1911, Jolson
Jolson
starred in his first musical revue at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City, La Belle Paree, greatly helping to launch his career as a singer. The opening night drew a huge crowd to the theater, and that evening Jolson
Jolson
gained audience popularity by singing old Stephen Foster
Stephen Foster
songs in blackface. In the wake of that opening night, Jolson
Jolson
was given a position in the show's cast. The show closed after 104 performances, and during its run Jolson's popularity grew greatly. Following La Belle Paree, he accepted an offer to perform in the musical Vera Violetta. The show opened on November 20, 1911 and, like La Belle Paree, was a phenomenal success. In the show, Jolson
Jolson
again sang in blackface and managed to become so popular that his weekly salary of $500 (based on his success in La Belle Paree) was increased to $750.[19] After Vera Violetta ran its course, Jolson
Jolson
starred in another musical, The Whirl of Society, propelling his career on Broadway to new heights. During his time at the Winter Garden, Jolson
Jolson
would tell the audience, "You ain't heard nothing yet" before performing additional songs. In the play, Jolson
Jolson
debuted his signature blackface character, "Gus."[14] The play was so successful that Winter Garden owner Lee Shubert agreed to sign Jolson
Jolson
to a seven-year contract with a salary of $1,000 a week. Jolson
Jolson
would reprise his role as "Gus" in future plays and by 1914 achieved so much popularity with the theater audience that his $1,000-a-week salary was doubled to $2,000 a week. In 1916, Robinson Crusoe, Jr.
Robinson Crusoe, Jr.
was the first musical in which he was featured as the star character. In 1918, Jolson's acting career would be pushed even further after he starred in the hit musical Sinbad.[20]

1919 "Swanee" sheet music with Jolson
Jolson
on the cover. For the full sheet music, see Wikisource.

Swanee

Al Jolson's hit 1920 recording of George Gershwin
George Gershwin
and Irving Caesar's 1919 "Swanee".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

It became the most successful Broadway musical of 1918 and 1919. A new song was later added to the show that would become composer George Gershwin's first hit recording—"Swanee". Jolson
Jolson
also added another song, "My Mammy," to the show. By 1920, Jolson
Jolson
had become the biggest star on Broadway.[21] Jolson's own theater[edit] His next play, Bombo, would also take his career to new heights and became so successful that it went beyond Broadway and held performances nationwide.[22] It also led Lee Shubert
Lee Shubert
to rename his newly built theater, which was across from Central Park, as Jolson's 59th Street Theatre. Aged 35, Jolson
Jolson
became the youngest man in American history to have a theatre named after him.[23] But on the opening night of Bombo, and the first performance at the new theatre, he suffered from extreme stage fright, walking up and down the streets for hours before showtime. Out of fear, he lost his voice backstage and begged the stagehands not to raise the curtains. But when the curtains went up, he "was [still] standing in the wings trembling and sweating." After being physically shoved onto the stage by his brother Harry, he performed and received an ovation that he would never forget: "For several minutes, the applause continued while Al stood and bowed after the first act." He refused to go back on stage for the second act, but the audience "just stamped its feet and chanted 'Jolson, Jolson', until he came back out." He took 37 curtain calls that night and told the audience, "I'm a happy man tonight."[24] In March 1922, he moved the production to the larger Century Theater for a special benefit performance to aid injured Jewish veterans of World War I.[25] After taking the show on the road for a season, he returned in May 1923, to perform Bombo at his "first love," the Winter Garden. The reviewer for The New York Times
The New York Times
wrote, "He returned like the circus, bigger and brighter and newer than ever. … Last night's audience was flatteringly unwilling to go home, and when the show proper was over, Jolson
Jolson
reappeared before the curtain and sang more songs, old and new."[26] "I don't mind going on record as saying that he is one of the few instinctively funny men on our stage," wrote reviewer Charles Darnton in the New York Evening World. "Everything he touches turns to fun. To watch him is to marvel at his humorous vitality. He is the old-time minstrel man turned to modern account. With a song, a word, or even a suggestion he calls forth spontaneous laughter. And here you have the definition of a born comedian."[27] Performing in blackface[edit]

The Jazz
Jazz
Singer, 1927

Performing in blackface makeup was a theatrical convention of many entertainers at the beginning of the 20th century, having its origin in the minstrel show.[28] Working behind a blackface mask gave the performer "a sense of freedom and spontaneity that he had never known".[14] According to film historian Eric Lott:

"For the white minstrel man to put on the cultural forms of 'blackness' was to engage in a complex affair of manly mimicry.... To wear or even enjoy blackface was literally, for a time, to become black, to inherit the cool, virility, humility, abandon, or gaité de coeur that were the prime components of white ideologies of black manhood."[29]

As metaphor of mutual suffering[edit] Jazz
Jazz
historians have described Jolson's blackface and singing style as metaphors for Jewish and black suffering throughout history. Jolson's first film, The Jazz
Jazz
Singer, for instance, is described by historian Michael Alexander as an expression of the liturgical music of Jews with the "imagined music of African Americans," noting that "prayer and jazz become metaphors for Jews and blacks." [30] Playwright Samson Raphaelson, after seeing Jolson
Jolson
perform his stage show Robinson Crusoe, stated that "he had an epiphany: 'My God, this isn't a jazz singer', he said. 'This is a cantor!'" The image of the blackfaced cantor remained in Raphaelson's mind when he conceived of the story which led to The Jazz
Jazz
Singer.[31] Upon the film's release, the first full-length sound picture, film reviewers saw the symbolism and metaphors portrayed by Jolson
Jolson
in his role as the son of a cantor wanting to become a "jazz singer":

Is there any incongruity in this Jewish boy with his face painted like a Southern Negro
Negro
singing in the Negro
Negro
dialect? No, there is not. Indeed, I detected again and again the minor key of Jewish music, the wail of the Chazan, the cry of anguish of a people who had suffered. The son of a line of rabbis well knows how to sing the songs of the most cruelly wronged people in the world's history.[31]

According to Alexander, Eastern European Jews were uniquely qualified to understand the music, noting how Jolson
Jolson
himself made the comparison of Jewish and African-American
African-American
suffering in a new land in his film Big Boy: In a blackface portrayal of a former slave, he leads a group of recently freed slaves, played by black actors, in verses of the classic slave spiritual "Go Down Moses". One reviewer of the film expressed how Jolson's blackface added significance to his role:

When one hears Jolson's jazz songs, one realizes that jazz is the new prayer of the American masses, and Al Jolson
Jolson
is their cantor. The Negro
Negro
makeup in which he expresses his misery is the appropriate talis [prayer shawl] for such a communal leader.[30]

Many in the black community welcomed The Jazz
Jazz
Singer, and saw it as a vehicle to gain access to the stage. Audiences at Harlem's Lafayette Theater cried during the film, and Harlem's newspaper, Amsterdam News, called it "one of the greatest pictures ever produced." For Jolson, it wrote: "Every colored performer is proud of him."[32] Relations with African-Americans[edit] See also: African-American
African-American
– Jewish relations Jolson
Jolson
first heard African-American
African-American
music, such as jazz, blues, and ragtime, played in the back alleys of New Orleans, Louisiana. He enjoyed singing the new jazz-style of music. Often performing in blackface, especially in the songs he made popular, such as "Swanee", "My Mammy", and "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody". Jolson's black stage persona, called "Gus" was a wily and wise-cracking servant who was always smarter than his white masters, frequently helping them out of problems they created for themselves. In this way, Jolson
Jolson
used comedy to poke fun at the prevalent idea of "white supremacy". In most of his movie roles, however, including a singing hobo in Hallelujah, I'm a Bum or a jailed convict in Say It With Songs, he chose to act without using blackface. In the film The Jazz
Jazz
Singer (1927), he performed only a few songs, including "My Mammy", in blackface, but the film is concerned in part with the experience of "donning a mask" that the young Jewish singer embraces in performing popular songs onstage.[citation needed] As a Jewish immigrant and America's most famous and highest-paid entertainer, he may have had the incentive and resources to help break down racial attitudes. For instance, the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
(KKK) during its peak in the early 1920s, was estimated to include about 15% of the nation's eligible voting population, 4–5 million men, though probably much smaller.[33] While The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation
glorified white supremacy and the KKK, Jolson
Jolson
chose to star in The Jazz
Jazz
Singer, which defied racial bigotry by introducing American black music to audiences worldwide.[10] While growing up, Jolson
Jolson
had many black friends, including Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who later became a prominent tap dancer.[18] As early as 1911, at the age of 25, Jolson
Jolson
was already noted for fighting discrimination on the Broadway stage and later in his movies:[34]

"at a time when black people were banned from starring on the Broadway stage,"[35] he promoted the play by black playwright Garland Anderson,[36] which became the first production with an all-black cast ever produced on Broadway; he brought an all-black dance team from San Francisco
San Francisco
that he tried to feature in his Broadway show;[34] he demanded equal treatment for Cab Calloway, with whom he performed a number of duets in his movie The Singing Kid; he was "the only white man allowed into an all black nightclub in Harlem".[34]

Al Jolson
Jolson
once read in the newspaper that songwriters Eubie Blake
Eubie Blake
and Noble Sissle, neither of whom he had ever heard of, were refused service at a Connecticut
Connecticut
restaurant because of their race. He immediately tracked them down and took them out to dinner, "insisting he'd punch anyone in the nose who tried to kick us out!"[37] Subsequent to their meeting, according to biographer Al Rose, Jolson and Blake became friends. Rose writes:

This didn't have anything to do with the theater, because they never worked together. Rather, they both had a love of prize fighting and used to go to boxing matches together, engaging in jocose discussion of the relative merits of Negro
Negro
with Jewish pugilists. They would occasionally wager a bottle of whisky on these bouts.[38]

Film historian Charles Musser notes that "African Americans' embrace of Jolson
Jolson
was not a spontaneous reaction to his appearance in talking pictures. In an era when African Americans did not have to go looking for enemies, Jolson
Jolson
was perceived a friend."[39] Jeni LeGon, a black female tap dance star,[40] recalls her life as a film dancer: "But of course, in those times it was a 'black-and-white world.' You didn't associate too much socially with any of the stars. You saw them at the studio, you know, nice—but they didn't invite. The only ones that ever invited us home for a visit was Al Jolson
Jolson
and Ruby Keeler."[41] British performer Brian Conley, former star of the 1995 British play Jolson, stated during an interview, "I found out Jolson
Jolson
was actually a hero to the black people of America. At his funeral, black actors lined the way, they really appreciated what he'd done for them."[42] Noble Sissle, then president of the Negro
Negro
Actors Guild, represented that organization at his funeral.[43] Jolson's physical expressiveness also affected the music styles of some black performers. Music historian Bob Gulla writes that "the most critical influence in Jackie Wilson's young life was Al Jolson." He points out that Wilson's ideas of what a stage performer could do to keep their act an "exciting" and "thrilling performance" was shaped by Jolson's acts, "full of wild writhing and excessive theatrics". Wilson felt that Jolson
Jolson
"should be considered the stylistic forefathers of rock and roll."[44] According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture: "Almost single-handedly, Jolson
Jolson
helped to introduce African-American
African-American
musical innovations like jazz, ragtime, and the blues to white audiences.... [and] paved the way for African-American
African-American
performers like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Ethel Waters.... to bridge the cultural gap between black and white America."[10] Jazz
Jazz
historian Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka
wrote, "the entrance of the white man into jazz...did at least bring him much closer to the Negro." He points out that "the acceptance of jazz by whites marks a crucial moment when an aspect of black culture had become an essential part of American culture."[45] During an interview[when?] Clarence 'Frogman' Henry, one of the most popular and respected jazz singers of New Orleans, said: "Jolson? I loved him. I think he did wonders for the blacks and glorified entertainment."[46] Movies[edit] The Jazz
Jazz
Singer[edit] Main article: The Jazz
Jazz
Singer

Movie poster, 1927

Jolson
Jolson
had starred in a talking film before The Jazz
Jazz
Singer: a 1926 short subject entitled A Plantation Act. This simulation of a stage performance by Jolson
Jolson
was originally presented in a program of musical shorts, demonstrating the Vitaphone
Vitaphone
sound-film process. The soundtrack for A Plantation Act was considered lost in 1933, but was found in 1995 and restored by The Vitaphone
Vitaphone
Project.[47] The short was included in Warner's 80th Anniversary release of The Jazz
Jazz
Singer on DVD.[citation needed] Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
had originally picked George Jessel for the role, as he had starred in the Broadway play. When Sam Warner
Sam Warner
decided to make The Jazz
Jazz
Singer a musical with the Vitaphone, he knew that Jolson
Jolson
was the star he needed to put it over. He told Jessel that he would have to sing in the movie, and Jessel balked, allowing Warner to replace him with Jolson. Jessel never got over it and often said that Warner gave the role to Jolson
Jolson
because he agreed to help finance the film.[48] The movie premiere[edit] Harry Warner's daughter, Doris, remembered the opening night, and said that when the picture started she was still crying over the loss of her beloved uncle Sam. He was planning to be at the performance but died suddenly at the age of 40, the day before. But halfway through the 89-minute movie she began to be overtaken by a sense that something remarkable was happening. Jolson's "Wait a minute" line provoked shouts of pleasure and applause from the audience, who were dumbfounded by seeing, hearing, someone speak on a film for the first time. So much so that the double-entendre was missed at first. After each Jolson
Jolson
song, the audience applauded. Excitement mounted as the film progressed, and when Jolson
Jolson
began his scene with Eugenie Besserer, "the audience became hysterical."[49] According to film historian Scott Eyman, "by the film's end, the Warner brothers had shown an audience something they had never known, moved them in a way they hadn't expected. The tumultuous ovation at curtain proved that Jolson
Jolson
was not merely the right man for the part of Jackie Rabinowitz, alias Jack Robin; he was the right man for the entire transition from silent fantasy to talking realism. The audience, transformed into what one critic called, 'a milling, battling mob' stood, stamped, and cheered 'Jolson, Jolson, Jolson!'"[50] At the end of the film, Jolson
Jolson
rose from his seat and ran down to the stage. "God, I think you're really on the level about it. I feel good" he cried to the audience. Stanley Watkins would always remember Jolson signing autographs after the show, tears streaming down his face. May McAvoy, Jolson's costar remembered that "[the] police were there to control the crowds. It was a very big thing, like The Birth of a Nation."[citation needed] Introduction of sound[edit] The film was produced by Warner Bros., using its new Vitaphone
Vitaphone
sound process. Vitaphone
Vitaphone
was originally intended for musical renditions, and The Jazz
Jazz
Singer follows this principle, with only the musical sequences using live sound recording. The moviegoers were electrified when the silent actions were interrupted periodically for a song sequence with real singing and sound. Jolson's dynamic voice, physical mannerisms, and charisma held the audience spellbound. Costar May McAvoy, according to author A. Scott Berg, could not help sneaking into theaters day after day as the film was being run. "She pinned herself against a wall in the dark and watched the faces in the crowd. In that moment just before 'Toot, Toot, Tootsie,' she remembered, 'A miracle occurred. Moving pictures really came alive. To see the expressions on their faces, when Joley spoke to them ... you'd have thought they were listening to the voice of God.'"[51] "Everybody was mad for the talkies," said movie star Gregory Peck
Gregory Peck
in a Newsweek interview. "I remember 'The Jazz
Jazz
Singer,' when Al Jolson
Jolson
just burst into song, and there was a little bit of dialogue. And when he came out with 'Mammy,' and went down on his knees to his Mammy, it was just dynamite."[52] This opinion is shared by Mast and Kawin:

...this moment of informal patter at the piano is the most exciting and vital part of the entire movie...when Jolson
Jolson
acquires a voice, the warmth, the excitement, the vibrations of it, the way its rambling spontaneity lays bare the imagination of the mind that is making up the sounds ...[and] the addition of a Vitaphone
Vitaphone
voice revealed the particular qualities of Al Jolson
Jolson
that made him a star. Not only the eyes are a window on the soul.[53]

Jewish meanings[edit] Cultural historian Linda Williams notes that "The Jazz
Jazz
Singer represents the triumphs of the assimilating son over the old-world father … and present impediments to an assimilating show-biz success....[and] when Jakie's father says, 'Stop', the flow of "jazz" music (and spontaneous speech) freezes. But the Jewish mother recognizes the virtue of the old world in the new and the music flows again."[54] According to film historian Robert Carringer, even the father eventually comes to understand that his son's jazz singing is "fundamentally an ancient religious impulse seeking expression in a modern, popular form." Or as the film itself states in its first title card, "perhaps this plaintive, wailing song of jazz is, after all, the misunderstood utterance of a prayer."[55] Film historian Scott Eyman also describes the cultural perspective of the film:

[It] marks one of the few times Hollywood
Hollywood
Jews allowed themselves to contemplate their own central cultural myth, and the conundrums that go with it... The Jazz
Jazz
Singer implicitly celebrates the ambition and drive needed to escape the shtetls of Europe
Europe
and the ghettos of New York, and the attendant hunger for recognition. Jack, Sam, and Harry let Jack Robin have it all: the satisfaction of taking his father's place and of conquering the Winter Garden. They were, perhaps unwittingly, dramatizing some of their own ambivalence about the debt first-generation Americans owed their parents.[56]

Other feature films[edit]

Poster for Hallelujah, I'm a Bum with unused title

The Singing Fool
The Singing Fool
(1928)[edit] With Warner Bros., Al Jolson
Jolson
made his first "all-talking" picture, The Singing Fool (1928) – the story of a driven entertainer who insisted upon going on with the show even as his small son lay dying, and its signature tune, "Sonny Boy", was the first American record to sell one million copies. The film was even more popular than The Jazz
Jazz
Singer, and even though there was still a relatively small number of theaters across the country capable of showing the picture with sound, it held the record for box-office attendance for 11 years, until broken by Gone With the Wind a decade later.[citation needed] Jolson
Jolson
continued to make features for Warner Bros., very similar in style to The Singing Fool, Say It with Songs
Say It with Songs
(1929), Mammy (1930), and Big Boy (1930). A restored version of Mammy, which includes Jolson
Jolson
in some Technicolor
Technicolor
sequences, was first screened in 2002.[57] (Jolson's first Technicolor
Technicolor
appearance was in a cameo in the musical Show Girl in Hollywood
Hollywood
(1930) from First National Pictures, a Warner Bros. subsidiary.) However, these films gradually proved a cycle of diminishing returns due to their comparative sameness, the regal salary that Jolson
Jolson
demanded, and a general shift in public tastes away from the vaudeville-style musical as the 1930s began. As a result of this, Jolson
Jolson
decided to return to Broadway, and starred in a new show, Wonder Bar, which was not very successful.[58] Hallelujah, I'm a Bum/Hallelujah, I'm a Tramp[edit] Despite these new troubles, Jolson
Jolson
was able to make a comeback after performing a concert in New Orleans
New Orleans
after "Wonderbar" closed in 1931. Warners allowed him to make one film with United Artists, Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, in 1933 (the film had to be retitled Hallelujah, I'm a Tramp in the UK and other English-speaking countries where "bum" means "bottom" and where the slang word for a vagrant is "tramp" rather than "bum"). It was directed by Lewis Milestone
Lewis Milestone
and written by screenwriter Ben Hecht. Hecht was also active in the promotion of civil rights: "Hecht film stories featuring black characters included Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, co-starring Edgar Connor as Al Jolson's sidekick, in a politically savvy rhymed dialogue over Richard Rodgers
Richard Rodgers
music."[59] A direct response to the Great Depression, it contains messages to his vagabond friends equivalent to "there's more to life than money" and "the best things in life are free". The New York Times
The New York Times
reviewer wrote, "The picture, some persons may be glad to hear, has no Mammy song. It is Mr. Jolson's best film and well it might be, for that clever director, Lewis Milestone, guided its destiny.... a combination of fun, melody and romance, with a dash of satire..."[60] Another review added, "A film to welcome back, especially for what it tries to do for the progress of the American musical..."[61] Wonder Bar
Wonder Bar
(1934)[edit] In 1934, he starred in a movie version of his earlier stage play Wonder Bar, co-starring Kay Francis, Dolores del Río, Ricardo Cortez, and Dick Powell. The movie is a "musical Grand Hotel, set in the Parisian nightclub owned by Al Wonder (Jolson). Wonder entertains and banters with his international clientele."[62] Reviews were generally positive: " Wonder Bar
Wonder Bar
has got about everything. Romance, flash, dash, class, color, songs, star-studded talent and almost every known requisite to assure sturdy attention and attendance... It's Jolson's comeback picture in every respect.";[63] and, "Those who like Jolson should see Wonder Bar
Wonder Bar
for it is mainly Jolson; singing the old reliables; cracking jokes which would have impressed Noah as depressingly ancient; and moving about with characteristic energy."[64] Returning to Warners, Jolson
Jolson
bowed to new production ideas, focusing less on the star and more on elaborately cinematic numbers staged by Busby Berkeley
Busby Berkeley
and Bobby Connolly. This new approach worked, sustaining Jolson's movie career until the Warner contract lapsed in 1935. Jolson
Jolson
co-starred with his actress-dancer wife, Ruby Keeler, only once, in Go Into Your Dance. The Singing Kid
The Singing Kid
(1936)[edit] Jolson's last Warner vehicle was The Singing Kid
The Singing Kid
(1936), a parody of Jolson's stage persona (he plays a character named Al Jackson) in which he mocks his stage histrionics and taste for "mammy" songs—the latter via a number by E. Y. Harburg
E. Y. Harburg
and Harold Arlen
Harold Arlen
titled "I Love to Singa", and a comedy sequence with Jolson
Jolson
doggedly trying to sing "Mammy" while The Yacht Club Boys keep telling him such songs are outdated.[65] According to jazz historian Michael Alexander, Jolson
Jolson
had once griped that "People have been making fun of Mammy songs, and I don't really think that it's right that they should, for after all, Mammy songs are the fundamental songs of our country." (He said this, in character, in his 1926 short A Plantation Act.) In this film, he notes, " Jolson
Jolson
had the confidence to rhyme 'Mammy' with 'Uncle Sammy'", adding "Mammy songs, along with the vocation 'Mammy singer', were inventions of the Jewish Jazz
Jazz
Age."[66] The film also gave a boost to the career of black singer and bandleader Cab Calloway, who performed a number of songs alongside Jolson. In his autobiography, Calloway writes about this episode:

I'd heard Al Jolson
Jolson
was doing a new film on the Coast, and since Duke Ellington and his band had done a film, wasn't it possible for me and the band to do this one with Jolson. Frenchy got on the phone to California, spoke to someone connected with the film and the next thing I knew the band and I were booked into Chicago on our way to California for the film, The Singing Kid. We had a hell of a time, although I had some pretty rough arguments with Harold Arlen, who had written the music. Arlen was the songwriter for many of the finest Cotton Club
Cotton Club
revues, but he had done some interpretations for The Singing Kid that I just couldn't go along with. He was trying to change my style and I was fighting it. Finally, Jolson
Jolson
stepped in and said to Arlen, 'Look, Cab knows what he wants to do; let him do it his way.' After that, Arlen left me alone. And talk about integration: Hell, when the band and I got out to Hollywood, we were treated like pure royalty. Here were Jolson
Jolson
and I living in adjacent penthouses in a very plush hotel. We were costars in the film so we received equal treatment, no question about it.[67]

The Singing Kid
The Singing Kid
was not one of the studio's major attractions (it was released by the First National subsidiary), and Jolson
Jolson
did not even rate star billing. The song "I Love to Singa" later appeared in Tex Avery's cartoon of the same name. The movie also became the first important role for future child star Sybil Jason in a scene directed by Busby Berkeley. Jason remembers that Berkeley worked on the film although he is not credited.[68] Rose of Washington Square
Rose of Washington Square
(1939)[edit] His next movie—his first with Twentieth Century-Fox—was Rose of Washington Square (1939). It stars Jolson, Alice Faye
Alice Faye
and Tyrone Power, and included many of Jolson's best known songs, although several songs were cut to shorten the movie's length, including "April Showers" and "Avalon". Reviewers wrote, "Mr Jolson's singing of Mammy, California, Here I Come and others is something for the memory book"[69] and "Of the three co-stars this is Jolson's picture … because it's a pretty good catalog in anybody's hit parade."[70] The movie was released on DVD in October 2008. 20th Century Fox hired him to recreate a scene from The Jazz
Jazz
Singer in the Alice Faye-Don Ameche film Hollywood
Hollywood
Cavalcade.[citation needed] Guest appearances in two more Fox films followed that same year, but Jolson
Jolson
never starred in a full-length feature film again.[citation needed] The Jolson
Jolson
Story[edit]

original movie poster, 1946

After the George M. Cohan
George M. Cohan
film biography, Yankee Doodle Dandy
Yankee Doodle Dandy
(1942), Hollywood
Hollywood
columnist Sidney Skolsky believed that a similar film could be made about Al Jolson. Skolsky pitched the idea of an Al Jolson biopic and Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
agreed. It was directed by Alfred E. Green, best remembered for the pre-Code Baby Face (1933), with musical numbers staged by Joseph H. Lewis. With Jolson
Jolson
providing almost all the vocals, and Columbia contract player Larry Parks
Larry Parks
playing Jolson, The Jolson Story
The Jolson Story
(1946) became one of the biggest box-office hits of the year.[71] Larry Parks
Larry Parks
wrote, in a personal tribute to Jolson:

Stepping into his shoes was, for me, a matter of endless study, observation, energetic concentration to obtain, perfectly if possible, a simulation of the kind of man he was. It is not surprising, therefore, that while making The Jolson
Jolson
Story, I spent 107 days before the cameras and lost eighteen pounds in weight.[72]

From a review in Variety:

But the real star of the production is that Jolson
Jolson
voice and that Jolson
Jolson
medley. It was good showmanship to cast this film with lesser people, particularly Larry Parks
Larry Parks
as the mammy kid... As for Jolson's voice, it has never been better. Thus the magic of science has produced a composite whole to eclipse the original at his most youthful best.[73]

Parks received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Although the 60-year-old Jolson
Jolson
was too old to play a younger version of himself in the movie, he persuaded the studio to let him appear in one musical sequence, "Swanee", shot entirely in long shot, with Jolson
Jolson
in blackface singing and dancing onto the runway leading into the middle of the theater. In the wake of the film's success and his World War II tours, Jolson
Jolson
became a top singer among the American public once more.[2][74] Decca Records
Decca Records
signed Jolson
Jolson
and he recorded for Decca until his death. Critical observations[edit] According to film historian Krin Gabbard, The Jolson Story
The Jolson Story
goes further than any of the earlier films in exploring the significance of blackface and the relationships that whites have developed with blacks in the area of music. To him, the film seems to imply an inclination of white performers, like Jolson, who are possessed with "the joy of life and enough sensitivity, to appreciate the musical accomplishments of blacks".[75] To support his view he describes a significant part of the movie:

While wandering around New Orleans
New Orleans
before a show with Dockstader's Minstrels, he enters a small club where a group of black jazz musicians are performing. Jolson
Jolson
has a revelation, that the staid repertoire of the minstrel troupe can be transformed by actually playing black music in blackface. He tells Dockstader that he wants to sing what he has just experienced: 'I heard some music tonight, something they call jazz. Some fellows just make it up as they go along. They pick it up out of the air.' After Dockstader refuses to accommodate Jolson's revolutionary concept, the narrative chronicles his climb to stardom as he allegedly injects jazz into his blackface performances … Jolson's success is built on anticipating what Americans really want. Dockstader performs the inevitable function of the guardian of the status quo, whose hidebound commitment to what is about to become obsolete reinforces the audience's sympathy with the forward-looking hero.[76]

This has been a theme which was traditionally "dear to the hearts of the men who made the movies."[76] Film historian George Custen describes this "common scenario, in which the hero is vindicated for innovations that are initially greeted with resistance … [T]he struggle of the heroic protagonist who anticipates changes in cultural attitudes is central to other white jazz biopics such as The Glenn Miller Story (1954) and The Benny Goodman Story
The Benny Goodman Story
(1955)".[77] "Once we accept a semantic change from singing to playing the clarinet, The Benny Goodman Story becomes an almost transparent reworking of The Jazz
Jazz
Singer … and The Jolson
Jolson
Story."[76] Jolson Sings Again
Jolson Sings Again
(1949)[edit] A sequel, Jolson Sings Again
Jolson Sings Again
(1949), opened at Loew's State Theatre in New York and received positive reviews: "Mr. Jolson's name is up in lights again and Broadway is wreathed in smiles", wrote Thomas Pryor in The New York Times. "That's as it should be, for Jolson
Jolson
Sings Again is an occasion which warrants some lusty cheering...".[78] Jolson
Jolson
did a tour of New York film theaters to plug the movie, traveling with a police convoy to make timetables for all showings, often ad libbing jokes and performing songs for the audience. Extra police were on duty as crowds jammed the streets and sidewalks at each theater Jolson visited.[79] In Chicago, a few weeks later, he sang to 100,000 people at Soldier Field, and later that night appeared at the Oriental Theatre with George Jessel where 10,000 people had to be turned away.[78] In Baltimore, Maryland, he took his wife Erle to St Mary's Industrial School in Baltimore, where he had been confined for a while as a boy and treated for tuberculosis. He introduced her to the same Xaverian Brother, Brother Benjamin, who watched over him. That night, Jolson took over two hundred of the church's kids to see Jolson
Jolson
Sings Again at the Hippodrome Theatre. A few weeks later, the Jolsons were received by President Harry Truman
Harry Truman
at the White House.[citation needed] Radio shows[edit] Jolson
Jolson
had been a popular guest star on radio since its earliest days, including on NBC's The Dodge Victory Hour
The Dodge Victory Hour
(January 1928), singing from a New Orleans
New Orleans
hotel to an audience of 35 million via 47 radio stations. His own 1930s shows included Presenting Al Jolson
Jolson
(1932) and Shell Chateau
Shell Chateau
(1935), and he was the host of the Kraft Music Hall
Kraft Music Hall
from 1947 to 1949, with Oscar Levant
Oscar Levant
as a sardonic, piano-playing sidekick. Jolson's 1940s career revival was nothing short of a success despite the competition of younger performers such as Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
and Frank Sinatra, and he was voted the "Most Popular Male Vocalist" in 1948 by a poll in Variety. The next year, Jolson
Jolson
was named "Personality of the Year" by the Variety Clubs of America. When Jolson
Jolson
appeared on Bing Crosby's radio show, he attributed his receiving the award to his being the only singer of any importance not to make a record of "Mule Train", which had been a widely covered hit of that year (four different versions, one of them by Crosby, had made the top ten on the charts). Jolson
Jolson
joked about how his voice had deepened with age, saying "I got the clippetys all right, but I can't clop like I used to."[citation needed] Television work[edit] When Jolson
Jolson
appeared on Steve Allen's KNX Los Angeles radio show in 1949 to promote Jolson
Jolson
Sings Again, he offered his curt opinion of the burgeoning television industry: "I call it smell-evision." Writer Hal Kanter recalled that Jolson's own idea of his television debut would be a corporate-sponsored, extra-length spectacular that would feature him as the only performer, and would be telecast without interruption. Even though he had several TV offers at the time, Jolson
Jolson
was apprehensive about how his larger than life performances would come across in a medium as intimate as television. He finally relented in 1950, when it was announced that Jolson
Jolson
had signed an agreement to appear on the CBS
CBS
television network, presumably in a series of specials. However, he died suddenly before production began.[80] World War II
World War II
and Korean War
Korean War
tours[edit] World War II[edit] Japanese bombs on Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
shook Jolson
Jolson
out of continuing moods of lethargy due to years of little activity and "... he dedicated himself to a new mission in life.... Even before the U.S.O.
U.S.O.
began to set up a formal program overseas, Jolson
Jolson
was deluging War and Navy Department brass with phone calls and wires. He requested permission to go anywhere in the world where there was an American serviceman who wouldn't mind listening to 'Sonny Boy' or 'Mammy'.... [and] early in 1942, Jolson
Jolson
became the first star to perform at a GI base in World War II".[81] From a New York Times
New York Times
interview in 1942: "When the war started... [I] felt that it was up to me to do something, and the only thing I know is show business. I went around during the last war and I saw that the boys needed something besides chow and drills. I knew the same was true today, so I told the people in Washington that I would go anywhere and do an act for the Army."[82] Shortly after the war began, he wrote a letter to Steven Early, press secretary to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, volunteering "to head a committee for the entertainment of soldiers and said that he "would work without pay... [and] would gladly assist in the organization to be set up for this purpose". A few weeks later, he received his first tour schedule from the newly formed United Services Organization
United Services Organization
(USO), "the group his letter to Early had helped create".[83] He did as many as four shows a day in the jungle outposts of Central America and covered the string of U.S. Naval bases. He paid for part of the transportation out of his own pocket. Upon doing his first, and unannounced, show in England in 1942, the reporter for the Hartford Courant wrote, "... it was a panic. And pandemonium... when he was done the applause that shook that soldier-packed room was like bombs falling again in Shaftsbury Avenue."[84] From an article in The New York Times:

He [Jolson] has been to more Army camps and played to more soldiers than any other entertainer. He has crossed the Atlantic by plane to take song and cheer to the troops in Britain and Northern Ireland. He has flown to the cold wastes of Alaska and the steaming forests of Trinidad. He has called at Dutch‑like Curaçao. Nearly every camp in this country has heard him sing and tell funny stories.[82]

Some of the unusual hardships of performing to active troops were described in an article he wrote for Variety, in 1942:

In order to entertain all the boys ... it became necessary for us to give shows in foxholes, gun emplacements, dugouts, to construction groups on military roads; in fact, any place where two or more soldiers were gathered together, it automatically became a Winter Garden for me and I would give a show.[85]

After returning from a tour of overseas bases, the Regimental Hostess at one camp wrote to Jolson,

Allow me to say on behalf of all the soldiers of the 33rd Infantry that you coming here is quite the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to us, and we think you're tops, not only as a performer, but as a person. We unanimously elect you Public Morale Lifter No. 1 of the U.S Army.[86]

Jolson
Jolson
was officially enlisted in the United Service Organizations (USO), the organization which provided entertainment for American troops who served in combat overseas.[87] Because he was over the age of 45, he received a "Specialist" rating that permitted him to wear a uniform and be given the standing of an officer. While touring in the Pacific, Jolson
Jolson
contracted malaria and had to have his left lung surgically removed. In 1946, during a nationally broadcast testimonial dinner in New York City, given on his behalf, he received a special tribute from the American Veterans Committee in honor of his volunteer services during World War II.[2] In 1949, the movie Jolson
Jolson
Sings Again recreated some scenes showing Jolson
Jolson
during his war tours.[88] Korean War[edit] In 1950, according to Jolson's biographer Michael Freedland,[89] "the United States answered the call of the United Nations Security Council … and had gone to fight the North Koreans. … [Jolson] rang the White House
White House
again. 'I'm gonna go to Korea,' he told a startled official on the phone. 'No one seems to know anything about the USO, and it's up to President Truman to get me there.' He was promised that President Truman and General MacArthur, who had taken command of the Korean front, would get to hear of his offer. But for four weeks there was nothing. … Finally, Louis A. Johnson, Secretary of Defense, sent Jolson
Jolson
a telegram. 'Sorry for delay but regret no funds for entertainment – STOP; USO disbanded – STOP.' The message was as much an assault on the Jolson
Jolson
sense of patriotism as the actual crossing of the 38th Parallel had been. 'What are they talkin' about', he thundered. 'Funds? Who needs funds? I got funds! I'll pay myself!'"[90]

Performing in Korea

On September 17, 1950, a dispatch from 8th Army Headquarters, Korea, announced, "Al Jolson, the first top-flight entertainer to reach the war-front, landed here today by plane from Los Angeles..." Jolson traveled to Korea at his own expense. "[A]nd a lean, smiling Jolson drove himself without letup through 42 shows in 16 days."[91] Before returning to the U.S., General Douglas MacArthur, leader of UN forces, gave him a medallion inscribed "To Al Jolson
Jolson
from Special Services in appreciation of entertainment of armed forces personnel ‑ Far East Command", with his entire itinerary inscribed on the reverse side.[92] A few months later, an important bridge, named the "Al Jolson
Jolson
Bridge", was used to withdraw the bulk of American troops from North Korea.[93] The bridge was the last remaining of three bridges across the Han River and was used to evacuate UN forces. It was demolished by UN forces after the army made it safely across in order to prevent the Chinese from crossing.[94] Alistair Cooke
Alistair Cooke
wrote, "He [Jolson] had one last hour of glory. He offered to fly to Korea and entertain the troops hemmed in on the United Nations precarious August bridgehead. The troops yelled for his appearance. He went down on his knee again and sang 'Mammy', and the troops wept and cheered. When he was asked what Korea was like he warmly answered, 'I am going to get back my income tax returns and see if I paid enough.'"[95] Jack Benny, who went to Korea the following year, noted that an amphitheater in Korea where troops were entertained, was named the "Al Jolson
Jolson
Bowl."[96] New U.S.O.
U.S.O.
movie

Defense Secretary George Marshall
George Marshall
presenting the Medal for Merit
Medal for Merit
to Jolson's family after his death.

Just 10 days after he returned from Korea, he had agreed with RKO Pictures producers Jerry Wald
Jerry Wald
and Norman Krasna to star in a new movie, Stars and Stripes for Ever, about a USO troupe in the South Pacific during World War II. The screenplay was to be written by Herbert Baker and to costar Dinah Shore.[97] Jolson
Jolson
had however greatly overexerted himself performing in Korea, especially for a man who was missing a lung, and only two weeks after signing the agreement, he died of a heart attack in San Francisco. A few months after his death, Defense Secretary George Marshall presented the Medal for Merit
Medal for Merit
for Jolson, "to whom this country owes a debt which cannot be repaid". The medal, carrying a citation noting that Jolson's "contribution to the U.N. action in Korea was made at the expense of his life", was presented to Jolson's adopted son as Jolson's widow looked on.[68] Columbia too had been thinking about a third Jolson
Jolson
musical, and this time Jolson
Jolson
would play himself. The project, tentatively entitled You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet, was to dramatize Jolson's recent tours of military bases. The projected film was abruptly cancelled.[citation needed] Personal life[edit] Politics[edit]

Jolson
Jolson
(right) with President Calvin Coolidge, 1924

Jolson
Jolson
was a Republican, supporting both Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding
in 1920 and Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
in 1924 for president of the United States. As "one of the biggest stars of his time, [he] worked his magic singing Harding, You're the Man for Us to enthralled audiences ... [and] was subsequently asked to perform Keep Cool with Coolidge four years later. ... Jolson, like the men who ran the studios, was the rare showbiz Republican."[98] Although a Republican, Jolson
Jolson
publicly campaigned for Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
in 1932.[99] By the next presidential election (1936), he was back to supporting Republican Alf Landon
Alf Landon
and would not support another Democrat for president during his life.[100][101] Married life[edit] Ethel Delmar[edit] In 1920, Jolson
Jolson
began a relationship with Broadway actress Alma Osbourne (known professionally as Ethel Delmar); the two were married in August 1922;[102] she divorced Jolson
Jolson
in 1928.[103] Ruby Keeler[edit] In the summer of 1928, Jolson
Jolson
met young tap dancer, and later actress, Ruby Keeler, in Los Angeles ( Jolson
Jolson
would claim it was at Texas Guinan's night club) and was dazzled by her on sight. Three weeks later, Jolson
Jolson
saw a production of George M. Cohan's Rise of Rosie O'Reilly, and noticed she was in the show's cast. Now knowing she was going about her Broadway career, Jolson
Jolson
attended another one of her shows, Show Girl, and rose from the audience and engaged in her duet of "Liza". After this moment, the show's producer, Florenz Ziegfeld, asked Jolson
Jolson
to join the cast and continue to sing duets with Keeler. Jolson
Jolson
accepted Ziegfeld's offer and during their tour with Ziegfeld, the two started dating and were married on September 21, 1928. In 1935, Al and Ruby adopted a son, Jolson's first child, whom they named "Al Jolson
Jolson
Jr."[14] In 1939, however—despite a marriage that was considered to be more successful than his previous ones—Keeler left Jolson. After their 1940 divorce, she remarried, to John Homer Lowe, with whom she would have four children and remain married until his death in 1969.[14][104] Erle Galbraith[edit]

Jolson
Jolson
and wife, Erle, 1946

In 1944, while giving a show at a military hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Jolson
Jolson
met a young X-ray
X-ray
technologist, Erle Galbraith. He became fascinated with her and more than a year later he was able to track her down and hired her as an actress while he served as a producer at Columbia Pictures. After Jolson, whose health was still scarred from his previous battle with malaria, was hospitalized in the winter of 1945, Erle visited him and the two quickly began a relationship. They were married on March 22, 1945. During their marriage, the Jolsons adopted two children, Asa Jr. (born 1948) and Alicia (born 1949),[14] and remained married until his death in 1950.[105] After a year and a half of marriage, his new wife had never seen him perform in front of an audience, and the first occasion came unplanned. As told by actor comedian Alan King, it happened during a dinner by the New York Friars' Club
New York Friars' Club
at the Waldorf Astoria in 1946, honoring the career of Sophie Tucker. Jolson
Jolson
and his wife were in the audience along with a thousand others, and George Jessel was MC. He asked Al, privately, to perform at least one song. Jolson
Jolson
replied, "No, I just want to sit here."[citation needed] Then later, without warning, during the middle of the show, Jessel says, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the easiest introduction I ever had to make. The world's greatest entertainer, Al Jolson." King recalls what happened next:

The place is going wild. Jolson
Jolson
gets up, takes a bow, sits down. . . people start banging with their feet, and he gets up, takes another bow, sits down again. It's chaos, and slowly, he seems to relent. He walks up onto the stage . . . kids around with Sophie and gets a few laughs, but the people are yelling, 'Sing! Sing! Sing!' . . . Then he says, 'I'd like to introduce you to my bride,' and this lovely young thing gets up and takes a bow. The audience doesn't care about the bride, they don't even care about Sophie Tucker. 'Sing! Sing! Sing!' they're screaming again. 'My wife has never seen me entertain', Jolson
Jolson
says, and looks over toward Lester Lanin, the orchestra leader: 'Maestro, is it true what they say about Dixie?'[106]

Closeness with his brother Harry[edit] Despite their close relationship growing up, Harry did show some disdain for Al's success over the years. Even during their time with Jack Palmer, Al was rising in popularity while Harry was fading. After separating from Al and Jack, Harry's career in show business, however, sank greatly. On one occasion—which was another factor in his on-off relationship with Al—Harry offered to be Al's agent, but Al rejected the offer, worried about the pressure that he would have faced from his producers for hiring his brother as his agent. Shortly after Harry's wife Lillian died in 1948, Harry and Al became close once again.[107] Death and commemoration[edit] The dust and dirt of the Korean front, from where he had returned a few weeks earlier, had settled in his remaining lung and he was close to exhaustion. While playing cards in his suite at the St. Francis Hotel at 335 Powell Street in San Francisco,[108] Jolson
Jolson
died of a massive heart attack on October 23, 1950. His last words were said to be "Oh... oh, I'm going."[109] His age was given as 64.[citation needed] After his wife received the news of his death by phone, she went into shock, and required family members to stay with her. At the funeral, police estimated upwards of 20,000 people showed up, despite the threat of rain. It became one of the biggest funerals in show business history.[110] Celebrities paid tribute: Bob Hope, speaking from Korea via short wave radio, said the world had lost "not only a great entertainer, but also a great citizen." Larry Parks
Larry Parks
said that the world had "lost not only its greatest entertainer, but a great American as well. He was a casualty of the [Korean] war." Scripps-Howard newspapers drew a pair of white gloves on a black background. The caption read, "The Song Is Ended."[110] Newspaper columnist and radio reporter Walter Winchell
Walter Winchell
said,

He was the first to entertain troops in World War Two, contracted malaria and lost a lung. Then in his upper sixties he was again the first to offer his singing gifts for bringing solace to the wounded and weary in Korea. Today we know the exertion of his journey to Korea took a greater toll of his strength than perhaps even he realized. But he considered it his duty as an American to be there, and that was all that mattered to him. Jolson
Jolson
died in a San Francisco
San Francisco
hotel. Yet he was as much a battle casualty as any American soldier who has fallen on the rocky slopes of Korea … A star for more than 40 years, he earned his most glorious star rating at the end—a gold star.[111]

Friend George Jessel said during part of his eulogy,

The history of the world does not say enough about how important the song and the singer have been. But history must record the name Jolson, who in the twilight of his life sang his heart out in a foreign land, to the wounded and to the valiant. I am proud to have basked in the sunlight of his greatness, to have been part of his time.[112]

Memorial

Tomb of Al Jolson, at Hillside Memorial Park

He was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery
Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery
in Culver City, California. Jolson's widow purchased a plot at Hillside and commissioned his mausoleum to be designed by well-known black architect Paul Williams. The six-pillar marble structure is topped by a dome, next to a three-quarter-size bronze statue of Jolson, eternally resting on one knee, arms outstretched, apparently ready to break into another verse of "Mammy". The inside of the dome features a huge mosaic of Moses
Moses
holding the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, and identifies Jolson
Jolson
as "The Sweet Singer of Israel" and "The Man Raised Up High".[113][114] On the day he died, Broadway dimmed its lights in Jolson's honor, and radio stations all over the world were paying tributes. Soon after his death, the BBC
BBC
presented a special program entitled Jolson
Jolson
Sings On. His death unleashed tributes from all over the world, including a number of eulogies from friends, including George Jessel, Walter Winchell, and Eddie Cantor.[113] He contributed millions to Jewish and other charities in his will.[115]

Al Jolson
Jolson
Way in New York City

In October 2008, a new documentary film, Al Jolson
Jolson
and The Jazz
Jazz
Singer premiered at the 50th Lübeck
Lübeck
Nordic Film Days, Lübeck, Germany, and won 1st Prize at an annual film competition in Kiel
Kiel
a few weeks later.[116] In November 2007, a similar documentary, A Look at Al Jolson, was winner at the same festival.[117] Jolson's music remains very popular today both in America and abroad with numerous CDs in print.[118] Al Jolson
Jolson
has three stars on the Hollywood
Hollywood
Walk of Fame:

6622 Hollywood
Hollywood
Blvd. for his contribution to motion pictures 1716 Vine St. for his mark on the recording industry 6750 Hollywood
Hollywood
Blvd. for his achievements in radio

In 2000, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.[119] Jolson
Jolson
is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[120] Forty-four years after Jolson's death, the United States Postal Service honored him by issuing a postage stamp. The 29-cent stamp was unveiled by Erle Jolson
Jolson
Krasna, Jolson's fourth wife, at a ceremony in New York City's Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center
on September 1, 1994. This stamp was one of a series honoring popular American singers, which included Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Ethel Merman, and Ethel Waters. And in 2006, Jolson
Jolson
had a street in New York named after him with the help of the Al Jolson
Jolson
Society.[121] Legacy and influence[edit]

With Irving Berlin, circa 1927

According to music historians Bruce Crowther and Mike Pinfold: "During his time he was the best known and most popular all-around entertainer America (and probably the world) has ever known, captivating audiences in the theatre and becoming an attraction on records, radio, and in films. He opened the ears of white audiences to the existence of musical forms alien to their previous understanding and experience … and helped prepare the way for others who would bring a more realistic and sympathetic touch to black musical traditions."[122] Black songwriter Noble Sissle, in the 1930s, said "[h]e was always the champion of the Negro
Negro
songwriter and performer, and was first to put Negroes in his shows". Of Jolson's "Mammy" songs, he adds, "with real tears streaming down his blackened face, he immortalized the Negro motherhood of America as no individual could."[123] However, Jolson's signature style, loud and passionate, was soon eclipsed by the cooler and more intimate style of the crooners, singers such as Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
and Frank Sinatra, who dominated the pop charts in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. While Jolson
Jolson
could and did croon, his basic style was formed in the era when a singer needed to project to the back of a theater with his own physical power; later singers who developed in the microphone era were freed from this constraint.[124][125] A few of the people and places that have been influenced by Jolson:

Irving Berlin As the movies became a vital part of the entertainment industry, Berlin was forced to "reinvent himself as a songwriter". Biographer Laurence Bergreen wrote that while Berlin's music was "Too old-fashioned for progressive Broadway, his music was thoroughly up-to-date in conservative Hollywood." He had his earliest luck with the landmark sound film The Jazz
Jazz
Singer (1927), in which Jolson performed his song "Blue Skies".[126] He wrote the music for Jolson's film Mammy (1930), which included hits such as "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy", "Pretty Baby", and "Mammy".[100][101]

Judy Garland Garland had performed a tribute to Jolson
Jolson
in her concerts of 1951 at the London Palladium
London Palladium
and at New York's Palace Theater. Both concerts were to become "central to this first of her many comebacks, and centered around her impersonation of Al Jolson... performing "Swanee" in her odd vocal drag of Jolson."[100][101]

Bing Crosby Music historian Richard Grudens writes that Kathryn Crosby
Kathryn Crosby
cheerfully reviewed the chapter about her beloved Bing and his inspiration, Al Jolson. . .where Bing had written, "His chief attribute was the sort of electricity he generated when he sang. Nobody in those days did that. When he came out and started to sing, he just elevated that audience immediately. Within the first eight bars he had them in the palm of his hand."[122] In Crosby's Pop Chronicles
Pop Chronicles
interview, he fondly recalled seeing Jolson
Jolson
perform and praised his "electric delivery".[2]

Crosby's biographer Gary Giddins wrote of Crosby's admiration for Jolson's performance style: "Bing marveled at how he seemed to personally reach each member of the audience." Crosby once told a fan,

I'm not an electrifying performer at all. I just sing a few little songs. But this man could really galvanize an audience into a frenzy. He could really tear them apart.[127]

Tony Bennett

My father... took us to see one of the first talking pictures, The Singing Fool, in which Al Jolson
Jolson
sang "Sonny Boy". In a way, you could say that Jolson
Jolson
was my earliest influence as a singer. I was so excited by what I saw that I spent hours listening to Jolson
Jolson
and Eddie Cantor on the radio. In fact, I staged my first public performance shortly after seeing that movie... to imitate Jolson... I leaped into the living room and announced to the adults, who were staring at me in amazement, "Me Sonny Boy!" The whole family roared with laughter.[128]

"50th Anniversary Year of Talking Pictures" stamp on first-day-of-issue cover featuring Jolson

Neil Diamond Journalist David Wild writes that the 1927 movie The Jazz
Jazz
Singer, would mirror Diamond's own life, "the story of a Jewish kid from New York who leaves everything behind to pursue his dream of making popular music in Los Angeles". Diamond says it was "the story of someone who wants to break away from the traditional family situation and find his own path. And in that sense, it 'is' my story." In 1972, Diamond gave the first solo concert performance on Broadway since Al Jolson, and starred in the 1980 remake of Jazz
Jazz
Singer, with Laurence Olivier and Lucie Arnaz.[129]

Jerry Lewis Actor and comedian Jerry Lewis
Jerry Lewis
starred in a televised version (without blackface) of The Jazz
Jazz
Singer in 1959. Lewis's biographer, Murray Pomerance, writes that "Jerry surely had his father in mind when he remade the film", adding that Lewis himself "told an interviewer that his parents had been so poor that they could not afford to give him a bar mitzvah." In 1956, Lewis recorded "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby".[130]

Eddie Fisher On a tour of the Soviet Union with his then wife, Elizabeth Taylor, Fisher wrote in his autobiography that "Khrushchev's mistress asked me to sing... I was the first American to be invited to sing in the Kremlin since Paul Robeson. The next day the Herald-Tribune headlines [read] 'Eddie Fisher Rocks the Kremlin'. I gave them my best Jolson: "Swanee", "April Showers" and finally "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody". I had the audience of Russian diplomats and dignitaries on their feet swaying with me."[131] In 1951, Fisher dedicated his "smash hit" song, "Good-bye, G.I. Al," to Jolson, and presented a copy personally to Jolson's widow.[132] With one of his later wives, Connie Stevens, he had a daughter, Joely Fisher, whose name honors Jolson.[citation needed]

Bobby Darin Darin's biographer, David Evanier, writes that when Darin was a youngster, stuck at home because of rheumatic fever, "[h]e spent most of the time reading and coloring as well as listening to the big-band music and Jolson
Jolson
records... He started to do Jolson
Jolson
imitations... he was crazy about Jolson." Darin's manager, Steve Blauner, who also became a movie producer and vice president of Screen Gems, likewise began his career "as a little boy doing Al Jolson
Jolson
imitations after seeing The Jolson Story
The Jolson Story
13 times ..."[133]

Ernest Hemingway In his memoirs, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
wrote that "Zelda Fitzgerald... leaned forward and said to me, telling me her great secret, 'Ernest, don't you think Al Jolson
Jolson
is greater than Jesus?'" [134]

State of California According to California historians Stephanie Barron and Sheri Bernstein, "few artists have done as much to publicize California as did Al Jolson" who performed and wrote the lyrics for "California, Here I Come".[135] It is considered the unofficial song of the Golden State.[136] Another example is the 1928 song "Golden Gate" (Dave Dreyer, Joseph Meyer, Billy Rose
Billy Rose
& Jolson).[100][101]

Mario Lanza Mario Lanza's biographer, Armando Cesari, writes that Lanza's "favorite singers included Al Jolson, Lena Horne, Tony Martin and Toni Arden."[137]

Jerry Lee Lewis According to singer and songwriter Jerry Lee Lewis, "there were only four true American originals: Al Jolson, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, and Jerry Lee Lewis."[138] "I loved Al Jolson," he said. "I still got all of his records. Even back when I was a kid I listened to him all the time."[139]

Rod Stewart British singer and songwriter Rod Stewart, during an interview in 2003, was asked, "What is your first musical memory?" Stewart replied: "Al Jolson, from when we used to have house parties around Christmas or birthdays. We had a small grand piano and I used to sneak downstairs... I think it gave me a very, very early love of music."[140]

David Lee Roth Songwriter and lead singer of the rock group Van Halen, was asked during an interview in 1985, "When did you first decide that you wanted to go into show business?" He replied, "I was seven. I said I wanted to be Al Jolson. Those were the only records I had—a collection of the old breakable 78s. I learned every song and then the moves, which I saw in the movies."[141]

Jackie Wilson African-American
African-American
singer Jackie Wilson
Jackie Wilson
recorded a tribute album to Jolson, You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet, which included his personal liner note, "...the greatest entertainer of this or any other era... I guess I have just about every recording he's ever made, and I rarely missed listening to him on the radio.... During the three years I've been making records, I've had the ambition to do an album of songs, which, to me, represent the great Jolson
Jolson
heritage.. [T]his is simply my humble tribute to the one man I admire most in this business... to keep the heritage of Jolson
Jolson
alive."[142]

Filmography[edit]

A Plantation Act (1926) The Jazz
Jazz
Singer (1927) The Singing Fool
The Singing Fool
(1928) Hollywood
Hollywood
Snapshots No. 11 (1929; short subject) Sonny Boy (1929; cameo) Say It with Songs
Say It with Songs
(1929) New York Nights
New York Nights
(1929; cameo) Mammy (1930) Show Girl in Hollywood
Hollywood
(1930; cameo) Big Boy (1930) Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (1933) Wonder Bar
Wonder Bar
(1934) Go Into Your Dance
Go Into Your Dance
(1935) Paramount Headliner: Broadway Highlights No. 1 (1935; short subject) The Singing Kid
The Singing Kid
(1936) Hollywood
Hollywood
Handicap (1938; short subject) Rose of Washington Square
Rose of Washington Square
(1939) Hollywood
Hollywood
Cavalcade (1939) Swanee River (1939) Rhapsody in Blue (1945; brief scene with Jolson
Jolson
in blackface introducing "Swanee")[citation needed] The Jolson Story
The Jolson Story
(1946) (double and singing voice for Larry Parks
Larry Parks
with brief onscreen appearance)[citation needed] Screen Snapshots: Off the Air (1947; short subject) Jolson Sings Again
Jolson Sings Again
(1949) (singing voice for Larry Parks)[citation needed] Oh, You Beautiful Doll
Oh, You Beautiful Doll
(1949; voice only)[citation needed] Screen Snapshots: Hollywood's Famous Feet (1950; short subject) (narrator) Memorial to Al Jolson, (1951) documentary – Columbia Pictures The Great Al Jolson, (1955) documentary, Columbia Pictures

Theater[edit]

La Belle Paree
La Belle Paree
(1911) Vera Violetta (1911) The Whirl of Society
The Whirl of Society
(1912) The Honeymoon Express (1913) Children of the Ghetto
Ghetto
(before 1915) Robinson Crusoe, Jr.
Robinson Crusoe, Jr.
(1916) Sinbad (1918) Bombo (1921) Big Boy (1925) Artists and Models of 1925 (1925; added to cast in 1926) Big Boy (1926) (revival) The Wonder Bar
Wonder Bar
(1931) Hold On to Your Hats (1940)

Famous songs (partial)[edit]

That Haunting Melodie (1911) – Jolson's first hit. Ragging the Baby to Sleep (1912) – sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc in that year, only the fourth to be presented.[143] The Spaniard That Blighted My Life (1912) – another million seller.[143] That Little German Band (1913) You Made Me Love You (1913) Back to the Carolina You Love (1914) Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers
Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers
(1914) Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula (1916) I Sent My Wife to the Thousand Isles (1916) I'm All Bound Round With the Mason Dixon Line (1918) My Mammy
My Mammy
(1918) Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
(1918) Tell That to the Marines
Tell That to the Marines
(1919) I'll Say She Does (1919) I've Got My Captain Working for Me Now
I've Got My Captain Working for Me Now
(1919) Swanee (1919) Avalon (1920) O-H-I-O (O-My! O!) (1921) April Showers (1921) Angel Child (1922) That Wonderful Kid From Madrid (1922) Toot, Toot, Tootsie (1922) Juanita (1923) California, Here I Come (1924) I Wonder What's Become of Sally? (1924) I'm Sitting on Top of the World (1926) When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along) (1926) Back in Your Own Backyard (1928) There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder (1928) Sonny Boy (1928) Little Pal (1929) Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away) (1929) Let Me Sing and I'm Happy (1930) The Cantor (A Chazend'l Ofn Shabbos) (1932) You Are Too Beautiful (1933) Anniversary Song (1946) Alexander's Ragtime
Ragtime
Band (1947) Carolina in the Morning
Carolina in the Morning
(1947) About a Quarter to Nine (1947) Waiting for the Robert E. Lee (1947) Golden Gate (1947) When You Were Sweet Sixteen
When You Were Sweet Sixteen
(1947) If I Only Had a Match (1947) After You've Gone (1949) Is It True What They Say About Dixie? (1949) Are You Lonesome Tonight? (1950) The Old Piano Roll Blues
Blues
(with The Andrews Sisters) (1950)

Discography[edit]

1922 sheet music

Al Jolson
Jolson
(in songs he made famous) 1946 Decca Records, Inc. (Album No. A-469 – a set of four records)

"April Showers" "Swanee" "California, Here I Come" "Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody" "You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)" "Ma Blushin' Rosie" "Sonny Boy" "My Mammy"

The Very Best of Al Jolson
Jolson
(1977) (compilation) Al Jolson
Jolson
Souvenir Album Decca Records
Decca Records
Inc. (Album No. A-575 - a set of four records)

1. "Waiting on the Robert E. Lee" 2. "When You Were Sweet Sixteen" 3. "Golden Gate" 4. "I'm Singing On Top Of The World" 5. "Toot, Toot, Tootsie" 6. "Back In Your Own Back Yard" 7. "Carolina In The Morning" 8. "Liza (All The Clouds'll Roll Away)"

Footnotes[edit]

^ Ruhlmann, William. Al Jolson
Jolson
at AllMusic. Retrieved March 5, 2010. ^ a b c d Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles
Pop Chronicles
the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s (audiobook). ISBN 978-1-55935-147-8. OCLC 31611854.  Tape 3, side B. ^ "Dokumentarfilm: Auf den Spuren von Al Jolson". Inkubato.com. Retrieved September 15, 2013.  ^ Dix, Andrew and Taylor, Jonathan. Figures of Heresy, Sussex Academic Press (2006), p. 176; quoted from Dylan's book, Biograph (1985). ^ a b Stempel, Larry. Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater, W.W. Norton (2010), p. 152. ^ Bainbridge, Beryl. Front Row: Evenings at the Theatre, Continuum International Publishing (2005), p. 109. ^ Al Jolson
Jolson
Remembered, Paramount News, Dec. 6, 1950 ^ Freedland, Michael. Al Jolson
Jolson
(1972), pp. 17–18. ^ Freedland, pp. 21–22. ^ a b c Stars over Broadway. PBS.org. ^ Oberfirst, Robert (1980). Al Jolson: You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet. London: Barnes & Co. pp. 23–40.  ^ Oberfirst 1980, pp. 49–50. ^ Oberfirst 1980, pp. 50–60. ^ a b c d e f g h Kenrick, John. "Al Jolson: A Biography" (2003), Musicals101.com; accessed October 6, 2014. ^ Oberfirst 1980, pp. 61–80. ^ Oberfirst 1980, pp. 68–70. ^ Oberfirst 1980, pp. 70–81. ^ a b Zolotow, Maurice. "Ageless Al", Reader's Digest, January 1949. ^ Oberfirst 1980, pp. 98–117. ^ Oberfirst 1980, pp. 123–141. ^ Oberfirst, pp. 143–147. ^ Oberfirst 1980, p. 171. ^ Goldman, Herbert G., Jolson
Jolson
-– the Legend Comes to Life (1988), Oxford University Press, p. 117. ^ Goldman, p. 118. ^ "Benefit Performance: 'Bombo' to Be Given at Century in Aid of Jewish War Sufferers" The New York Times, March 10, 1922. ^ "AL JOLSON WELCOMED BACK.; He Returns to the Winter Garden in "Bombo", With New Jokes", The New York Times, May 15, 1923. ^ Goldman, p. 87. ^ Rowland-Warne, L. (2000-06-01). Eyewitness: Costume. DK CHILDREN. ISBN 0-7894-5586-2.  ^ Lott, Eric (1993). Love and Theft: Blackface
Blackface
Minstrelsy and the American Working Class. Oxford University Press.  ^ a b Alexander, Michael. Jazz
Jazz
Age Jews, Princeton University Press (2003), p. 176. ^ a b Norwood, Stephen Harlan, and Pollack, Eunice G. Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, ABC-CLIO, Inc. (2008), p. 502. ^ Rogin, Michael. Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood
Hollywood
Melting Pot, University of California Press (1996), p. 197. ^ "African American Registry". Aaregistry.com. Retrieved March 5, 2010.  ^ a b c Ciolino, Joseph, "Al Jolson
Jolson
Wasn't Racist!", Black Star News, May 22, 2007. ^ Freedland, Michael. "You couldn't have Al Jolson
Jolson
any other way", Timesonline.co.uk, February 27, 2009. ^ Hill, Anthony Duane. "Anderson, Garland (1886–1939)", BlackPast.org; Retrieved September 19, 2014. ^ "Gioia, Ted, The New York Times". Ferris.edu. October 22, 2000. Retrieved March 5, 2010.  ^ Rose, Al. Eubie Blake, Macmillan (1979), pp. 67–68. ^ Musser, Charles. "Why did Negroes Love Al Jolson
Jolson
and the Jazz Singer?", Film History, Indiana University Press (2011), p. 206. ^ "Tap Dance Hall of Fame". Atdf.org. Retrieved March 5, 2010.  ^ Frank, Rusty E. Tap! The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and Their Stories, 1900–1955, Da Capo Press (1995). ^ "Past/Present/Future for … Brian Conley", What's on Stage, June 23, 2008. ^ "Al Jolson
Jolson
Society Official Website". Jolson.org. Archived from the original on October 23, 2008. Retrieved October 27, 2008.  ^ Gulla, Bob. Icons of R&B and Soul: An Encyclopedia of the Artists, Greenwood Press (2008), p. 133. ^ Baraka, Amiri (as LeRoi Jones), Blues
Blues
People: Negro
Negro
Music in White America, (1963) Morrow, p. 151 ^ Freedland, Michael. Jolson
Jolson
– The Story of Al Jolson
Jolson
(1972, 2007), p. 307. ^ Eyman, Scott (1997). The Speed of Sound: Hollywood
Hollywood
and the Talkie Revolution, 1926–1930. Simon & Schuster. p. 98. ISBN 0-684-81162-6.  ^ Interview with George Jessel, circa 1980 on YouTube, video – 2 minutes. ^ Eyman, Scott. The Speed of Sound: Hollywood
Hollywood
and the Talkie Revolution, 1926 – 1930, Simon and Schuster (1997), p. 129. ^ Eyman, p. 140. ^ Berg, A. Scott. Goldwyn: A Biography, Alfred A. Knopf (1998). ^ "This Is Work, Not Play", newsweek.com, June 28, 1999. ^ Mast, Gerald, and Kawin, Bruce F. A Short History of the Movies (2006), Pearson Education, Inc., p. 231. ^ Williams, Linda. Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Top to O. J. Simpson, Princeton University Press (2002), p. 186. ^ Carringer, Robert. L. The Jazz
Jazz
Singer (1979), University of Wisconsin Press, p. 23. ^ Eyman, p. 142. ^ "UCLA Film and Television Archive Newsletter" (PDF). April–May 2002. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 7, 2011.  ^ Oberfirst 1980, pp. 231–235. ^ Kovan, Florice Whyte. Some Notes on Ben Hecht's Civil Rights Work, the Klan and Related Projects, BenHechtBooks.net; accessed September 19, 2014. ^ Hall, Mourdaunt. The New York Times. February 9, 1933, p. 15. ^ Gilliatt, Penelope. New Yorker. June 23, 1973. ^ Fisher, James. Al Jolson: A Bio-bibliography (1994), p. 97. ^ Abel, Variety. March 6, 1934. ^ "At the University", Harvard Crimson, May 21, 1934. ^ Freedland, Michael. Jolson
Jolson
– The Story of Al Jolson
Jolson
(1972, 2007). ^ Alexander, Michael. Jazz
Jazz
Age Jews, Princeton University Press (2003), p. 136. ^ Calloway, Cab. Of Minnie the Moocher & Me, Thomas Y. Crowell Company (1976), p. 131. ^ a b Fisher, James. Al Jolson: A Bio-bibliography (1994), p. 103. ^ Nugent, Frank S., The New York Times, May 6, 1939, p. 21. ^ Variety. May 10, 1939, p. 14. ^ "The Jolson
Jolson
Story" review, Liberty, October 19, 1946. ^ "A Tribute by Larry Parks", Jolsonville.net; accessed October 6, 2014. ^ Variety, September 18, 1946, p. 16. ^ Oberfirst 1980, p. 311. ^ Gabbard, Krin. Jammin' at the Margins (1996), University of Chicago Press, p. 53. ^ a b c Gabbard, Krin. Jammin' at the Margins, (1996) University of Chicago Press, p. 54. ^ Custen, George. Bio/Pics: How Hollywood
Hollywood
Constructed Public History, (1992) Rutgers University Press, p. 147. ^ a b Goldman, Herbert G., Jolson
Jolson
– the Legend Comes to Life (1988), Oxford Univ. Press, p. 287. ^ Goldman, Herbert G., Jolson
Jolson
– the Legend Comes to Life, (1988) Oxford Univ. Press, pp. 286–87. ^ Freedland, Michael Jolson
Jolson
(1972), Stein and Day p. 234.<IBSN 0-8128-1523-8> ^ Abramson, Martin, The Real Story of Al Jolson. 1950, pp. 43–44. ^ a b Woolf, S.J. "Army Minstrel." The New York Times. September 27, 1942. ^ Goldman, Herbert G., Jolson
Jolson
– the Legend Comes to Life (1988), Oxford Univ. Press, p. 253. ^ Morehouse, Ward. Hartford Courant article via jolsonville.net, September 20, 1942. ^ Goldman, Herbert G., Jolson
Jolson
-– the Legend Comes to Life (1988), Oxford Univ. Press, p. 256. ^ Goldman, p. 257. ^ Oberfirst 1980, p. 285. ^ "Broadcast Yourself". YouTube. Retrieved March 5, 2010.  ^ Freedland, Michael. Jolson
Jolson
– The Story of Al Jolson
Jolson
(1972, 2007) ^ Freedland, pp. 283–84. ^ Abramson, Martin, The Real Story of Al Jolson, p. 46 (1950). ^ Cosmopolitan Magazine, January 1951. ^ Dutton, John. The Forgotten Punch in the Army's Fist: Korea 1950–1953, Ken Anderson, (2003), p. 98. ^ Spurr, Russell. Enter the Dragon: China's Undeclared War Against the U.S. in Korea, 1950–51, Newmarket Press, NY (1998) p. 281. ^ Cooke, Alistair. "Al Jolson
Jolson
dies on crest of a wave", The Guardian (UK). October 25, 1950. ^ Livingstone, Mary. Jack Benny, Doubleday (1978) pp. 184–185. ^ " Jolson
Jolson
to Return to Screen at R.K.O.", The New York Times, October 11, 1950. ^ Kusinitz, Kevin. " Celebrity
Celebrity
Endorsements", The Daily Standard, May 23, 2008. ^ Oberfirst, p. 241. ^ a b c d PBS "Stars over Broadway", pbs.org; Retrieved October 6, 2014. ^ a b c d Collected works of Al Jolson
Jolson
at the Internet Archive, archive.org; Retrieved October 6, 2014. ^ Oberfirst, p. 256. ^ "25 Oct 1950 – Sudden Death Of Al Jolson". nla.gov.au.  ^ Oberfirst, Robert, Al Jolson: You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet (1980) Barnes & Co., London, pp. 223–59. ^ Oberfirst, pp. 293–98. ^ King, Alan. Name Dropping, Simon and Schuster (1997) ^ Oberfirst, pp. 318–324. ^ Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here – More Locations of America's Pop Culture Landmarks by Chris Epting, p. 187. ^ Jolson
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in Korea on YouTube, Video, 9 min ^ a b Goldman, Herbert G., Jolson
Jolson
– the Legend Comes to Life, (1988) Oxford Univ. Press, p. 300. ^ Winchell, Walter. "A Song for Al Jolson", jolsonville.net; accessed September 19, 2014. ^ Jessel, George (1950-10-26). "The Majesty of Jolie". Archived from the original on October 27, 2008.  ^ a b "Tribute site". Jolsonville.net. Retrieved March 5, 2010.  ^ International Al Jolson
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Society, jolson.org; accessed October 6, 2014. ^ Brody, Seymour (1996). "Al Jolson". Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America: 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism. Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved October 27, 2008.  ^ "Al Jolson
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and The Jazz
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Singer wins 1st Prize" (in German). November 15, 2008. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011.  ^ A Look at Al Jolson, winner at German film festival November, 2007 ^ "Al Jolson: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved October 27, 2008.  ^ " Palm Springs Walk of Stars
Palm Springs Walk of Stars
by date dedicated" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2013.  ^ "Theater Hall of Fame members".  ^ "jolson.org". jolson.org. Retrieved September 15, 2013.  ^ a b Crowther, Bruce, and Pinfold, Mike. Singing Jazz: The Singers and Their Styles, Hal Leonard Corp. (1997). ^ Knight, Arthur. Disintegrating the Musical: Black Performance and American Musical film, Duke University Press (2002). ^ Ian Whitcomb. Frank Hoffmann, ed. "The Coming of the Crooners". Survey of American Popular Music. Sam Houston State University. Retrieved May 1, 2014.  ^ Pitts, Michael; Hoffman, Frank; Carty, Dick; Bedoian, Dick (2002). The Rise of the Crooners: Gene Austin, Russ Columbo, Bing Crosby, Nick Lucas, Johnny Marvin and Rudy Vallee. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-4081-2.  ^ Bergreen, Laurence. As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin, Da Capo Press (1996). ^ Giddins, Gary. Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, Back Bay (2002). ^ Bennett, Tony and Friedwald, Will. The Good Life, Simon and Schuster (1998). ^ Wild, David. He Is … I say: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neil Diamond, Da Capo Press (2008). ^ Pomerance, Murray. Enfant Terrible: Jerry Lewis
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in American Film, New York University Press (2002). ^ Fisher, Eddie. Been There, Done That: An Autobiography, Macmillan (2000), p. 80. ^ Billboard, April 14, 1951, p. 25. ^ Evanier, David. Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin, Rodale, p. 58 (2004). ^ Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast, Scribner (1964), p. 186. ^ Barron, Stephanie, and Bernstein, Sheri. Reading California Art, Image, and Identity, Univ. of California Press (2001). ^ Studwell, William E. and Schueneman, Bruce R., State Songs of the United States: An Annotated Anthology, Haworth Press (1977) ^ Cesari, Armando. Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy, Baskerville Publishers (2004), p. 80. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine, Interviews, October 19, 2006. ^ Giddins, Gary. Visions of Jazz: The First Century, Oxford Univ. Press (1998) p. 17. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine, Interviews, October 30, 2003. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine Interviews, April 11, 1985. ^ Giddins, Gary. Rhythm-a-ning: Jazz
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Tradition and Innovation, Da Capo (2000), pp. 148–49. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 10. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 

Further reading[edit]

Young, Jordan R. (1999). The Laugh Crafters: Comedy Writing in Radio & TV's Golden Age. Beverly Hills: Past Times Publishing. ISBN 0-940410-37-0.

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original works written by or about: Al Jolson

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Al Jolson.

International Al Jolson
Jolson
Society Official Al Jolson
Jolson
Website Al Jolson
Jolson
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Al Jolson
Jolson
on IMDb Al Jolson
Jolson
at the TCM Movie Database Newsreel including Jolson's death and funeral (from the Internet Archive) Documentary about Al Jolson
Jolson
and the making of The Jazz
Jazz
Singer The Immortal Al Jolson
Jolson
at the Family History Museum Al Jolson
Jolson
at Virtual History Zoot Radio, Free Al Jolson
Jolson
radio show downloads

v t e

Al Jolson

Compilation albums

The Very Best of Al Jolson

Songs

"The Spaniard That Blighted My Life" "You Made Me Love You" "Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers" "My Mammy" "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody" "Tell That to the Marines" "Swanee" "Avalon" "April Showers" "Juanita" "California, Here I Come" "I'm Sitting on Top of the World" "When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)" "Back in Your Own Backyard" "There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder" "Sonny Boy" "Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)" "The Anniversary Song" "Alexander's Ragtime
Ragtime
Band" "Carolina in the Morning"

Related articles

The Jolson
Jolson
Story Jolson
Jolson
Sings Again

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 97935898 LCCN: n50048868 ISNI: 0000 0000 8403 0653 GND: 118864270 SELIBR: 286060 SUDOC: 083002448 BNF: cb124040750 (data) MusicBrainz: 5611a8e8-1521-4919-a531-2689bbb57ce4 NLA: 35807726 NDL: 001155379 BNE: XX1477720 SN

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