Al Jolson


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Jolson, Al

(jōl`sən), 1888–1950, American entertainer, whose original name was Asa Yoelson, b. Russia. He emigrated to the United States c.1895. The son of a rabbi, Jolson first planned to become a cantor but soon turned to the stage. After his New York City debut in 1899, he worked in circuses, in minstrel shows, and in vaudeville; in 1909 in San Francisco he first sang "Mammy" in black face, and his style brought him fame and many imitators. The first of his many Broadway appearances was in La Belle Paree (1911); his film work began with The Jazz Singer (1927), the first major film with sound and a landmark in the history of motion pictures. After 1932 he had his own radio show. Among the songs he made famous were "April Showers," "Swanee," "Sonny-Boy," and "Mammy."

Bibliography

See H. Jolson, Mistah Jolson (1951); M. Freedland, Jolson (1972).

Jolson, Al (b. Asa Yoelson)

(?1886–1950) popular singer, movie actor; born in Srednice, Lithuania. In 1894 he emigrated to Washington, D.C., with his family to join his father, a rabbi and cantor. He began singing on street corners, then went to New York City and made his debut as an extra in Children of the Ghetto (1899). By age 15 he was touring in vaudeville and minstrel shows as a boy soprano and whistler; by 1906 he was in San Francisco performing a solo act. His earliest success came with Lew Dockstader's Minstrels in 1909; he sang "Mammy" in blackface and thus launched his career and the stereotype with which he would forever be associated (and imitated); musically he blended a vaguely African-American style with his own expressive Jewish tradition. He was also known for whistling improvised melodies in the style of jazz musicians. In 1911 he made his first recording and starred in La Belle Paree in New York; he went on to star in a series of Broadway musicals, his last being Hold on to Your Hats (1940). In 1926 he sang three songs in an experimental sound short, April Showers, and then he starred in the first full-length "talkie" film, The Jazz Singer (1927). By 1932 he had his own radio program; during the 1930s his records were extremely popular and he appeared in several movies. He entertained troops during World War II, but changing tastes in music effectively ended his career until the release of the biofilm, The Jolson Story (1946), for which he dubbed the singing; this led to a brief revival of popularity (and imitations). His signature songs include "Swanee," "Sonny Boy," and "California, Here I Come."
References in periodicals archive ?
Al Wales performing asa Al Jolson at the Newport Club, Middlesbrough in 1963.
As Al Jolson he was on Broadway in 1912, making his first hit record, The Spaniard That Blighted My Life, and was soon the world's best-known performer, earning an astonishing pounds 5,000 a week when a labourer in Cardiff was lucky to get two quid.
in full gallop across the stage; of Marilyn Miller, whose coltish, loose-limbed dancing is so winsome that her allure shines right through the grainy scrim of ancient film; of Al Jolson, swiveling his hips and making me finally understand--all these years later--why my old boss considered him the most sensational performer he'd ever seen; of George Gershwin banging on the rehearsal piano for a galaxy of tapping chorus girls; of Ethel Waters and John Bubbles performing together.
So he brings Al Jolson [and] all the troops down, they go through a receiving line not a single smile from Coolidge.
I guess Al Jolson and Ruby got a divorce, and then.
The movie, which brought Broadway superstar Al Jolson "alive" and seemingly singing from the screen, was an immediate sensation when it opened in 1927 and created a revolution in the motion picture industry.
1950: Al Jolson, US singer who billed himself ''the world's greatest entertainer'', died.
BORN PELE, football superstar, 1940, above WEIRD Al Yankovic, comedian, 1959 RYAN Reynolds, film actor, 1976 DIED WG Grace, cricket great, 1915 AL Jolson, above, US singer, 1950 JOHN Boyd Dunlop, tyre inventor, 1921
Most movie buffs know the first film with a partial soundtrack was "The Jazz Singer," with superstar Al Jolson.
Host Mervyn Francis performs Al Jolson hits, with the Martyn St James band.
He claimed he slapped on the Al Jolson face to show how much he "respected" Obama.
Not so much a musical, more a theatrical lecture-demonstration, this cost-conscious show is built around the remarkable ability of actor-singer Allan Stewart to knock out a string of early-20th century pop songs in the style of Al Jolson.