Jolson, Al


Jolson, Al
(1886-1950)
   Born Asa Yoelson in Szredzius, Lithuania, the singer-comedian was brought to Washington, D.C., as a child by his cantor father. Although his career belonged to the minstrel, musical, and vaudeville stages, as well as motion pictures, recordings, and radio, his influence over all of the American performing arts in the modernist era was profound. He was unquestionably "The World's Greatest Entertainer," who inspired the careers of Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, George Burns, Bob Hope, and many others, all of whom acknowledged their debt to Jolson. His personal magnetism on stage was described by critics as electrifying. When he performed in the Shubert musicals during the 1910s and 1920s, he would sometimes stop the show, dismiss the cast, and simply sing to the audience, to their delight. For his Sunday solo concerts at the Winter Garden, when other theatre folk could attend, he had a runway installed through the middle of the seating so he could get closer to his listeners.
   Jolson was the first to talk and sing in a feature-length film (The Jazz Singer, 1927), the first to sing pop in an opera house, the first to have a million-selling single recording (Sonny Boy, 1928) and a box office blockbuster (The Singing Fool, 1928), the first to volunteer to entertain American troops abroad during wartime (which he did at his own expense during three wars), and the first openly Jewish entertainer to be celebrated by Americans of all economic and ethnic classes. Not only did he import jazzy African American rhythms into his singing, but he did more than any other celebrity of his day to encourage black artists, from financing Garland Anderson's Appearances to seeking out black musicians Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake to compensate for the racism they endured to inviting Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, and other black performers to appear as guests on his radio shows. Above all else, there was that voice that could sell a song as no other could, including "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob-Bobbin' Along," "April Showers," "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," "Toot, Toot, Tootsie," "Rock-a-bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody," "My Mammy," "California, Here I Come," "Carolina in the Morning," "Avalon," and "Swanee River," among dozens of pop music standards.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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  • JOLSON, AL — (Asa Yoelson; 1886–1950), U.S. singer, vaudeville and film star. Born in Srednik, Lithuania, the son of a cantor, Jolson worked for some years in circuses, minstrel shows, and vaudeville houses in the U.S. In 1911 he was an instant success in his …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Jolson — redirects here. For Al Jolson, see Al Jolson. .Based on the life of legendary Al Jolson, it spans thirty years in the career of one of America s most popular entertainers. Out of the limelight, and the plot emphasizes his personal faults as much… …   Wikipedia

  • Jolson — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Al Jolson (eigentlich Asa Yoelson; † 1950), US amerikanischer Sänger und Entertainer Alfred James Jolson SJ (1928–1994), römisch katholischer Bischof von Reykjavik Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsk …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jolson, Al — orig. Asa Yoelson born May 26, 1886, Srednike, Russia died Oct. 23, 1950, San Francisco, Calif., U.S. Russian born U.S. singer, songwriter, and blackface comedian. Jolson s family arrived in the U.S. in 1893 and settled in Washington, D.C., where …   Universalium

  • Jolson, Al — orig. Asa Yoelson (26 may. 1886, Srednike, Rusia–23 oct. 1950, San Francisco, Cal., EE.UU.). Cantante, letrista y comediante estadounidense de origen ruso. La familia de Jolson llegó a EE.UU. en 1893 y se estableció en Washington, D.C., donde en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Jolson — noun United States singer (born in Russia) who appeared in the first full length talking film (1886 1950) • Syn: ↑Al Jolson, ↑Asa Yoelson • Instance Hypernyms: ↑singer, ↑vocalist, ↑vocalizer, ↑vocaliser, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Jolson,Al — Jol·son (jōlʹsən), Al. Originally Asa Yoelson. 1886 1950. American entertainer who starred in The Jazz Singer (1927), the first major film with synchronized sound. * * * …   Universalium

  • Jolson — /johl seuhn/, n. Al (Asa Yoelson), 1886 1950, U.S. singer and entertainer, born in Russia. * * * …   Universalium

  • Jolson — Jol|son, Al (1886 1950) a white US singer who wore black ↑make up to look like a black person, and sang songs associated with black people. He is famous for his emotional performances, and for appearing in the first film with sound, The Jazz… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Jolson, Al — pseud. di Yoelson, Asa …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione


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