Definitions

Jolson

Jolson

[johl-suhn]
Jolson, Al, 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."

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

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 Jolson made his first stage appearance in 1899, performing in vaudeville before joining a minstrel troupe (see minstrel show) in 1909. In New York City he was featured in musicals such as La Belle Paree (1911), Honeymoon Express (1913), and Big Boy (1925). In Sinbad (1918) he transformed the unsuccessful George Gershwin song “Swanee” into his trademark number. In Bombo (1921) he introduced “My Mammy,” “Toot, Toot, Tootsie,” and “California, Here I Come.” In 1927 he starred in The Jazz Singer, the first feature film with synchronized speech as well as music and sound effects. His later films include The Singing Fool (1928), Mammy (1930), and Swanee River (1940).

Learn more about Jolson, Al with a free trial on Britannica.com.

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 Jolson made his first stage appearance in 1899, performing in vaudeville before joining a minstrel troupe (see minstrel show) in 1909. In New York City he was featured in musicals such as La Belle Paree (1911), Honeymoon Express (1913), and Big Boy (1925). In Sinbad (1918) he transformed the unsuccessful George Gershwin song “Swanee” into his trademark number. In Bombo (1921) he introduced “My Mammy,” “Toot, Toot, Tootsie,” and “California, Here I Come.” In 1927 he starred in The Jazz Singer, the first feature film with synchronized speech as well as music and sound effects. His later films include The Singing Fool (1928), Mammy (1930), and Swanee River (1940).

Learn more about Jolson, Al with a free trial on Britannica.com.

"Jolson" redirects here. For Al Jolson, see Al Jolson.

Jolson is a musical with a book by Francis Essex and Rob Bettinson and a score comprised of tunes by some of the all-time greatest songwriters of Tin Pan Alley.

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 as it does his professional successes. Other major characters include wife Ruby Keeler and his longtime friend and agent Louis Epstein.

The West End production, directed by Bettinson, opened on October 26 1995 at the Victoria Palace Theatre, where it ran for seventeen months . The cast included Brian Conley as Jolson, Sally Ann Triplett as Keeler, and John Bennett as Epstein.

Under the auspices of the Laurence Olivier Awards, it won the American Express Award for Best New Musical. Olivier nominations went to Conley for Best Actor in a Musical and Bennett for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical .

An original cast album was recorded live during the performances of February 29, March 1, and March 2, 1996 and released by First Night Records .

Jolson - The Musical was staged at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto from June through October 1997. A proposed move to Broadway never materialized.

Song list

  • I'm Sitting on Top of the World
  • Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody
  • Toot-Toot-Tootsie Goodbye
  • There's a Rainbow Round My Shoulder
  • Let Me Sing and I'm Happy
  • For Me and My Gal
  • You Made Me Love You
  • Swanee
  • California Here I Come
  • Blue Skies
  • My Mammy
  • This is the Army, Mr. Jones
  • I'm Just Wild About Harry
  • I Only Have Eyes for You
  • Waiting for the Robert E. Lee
  • Swanee
  • Baby Face
  • Sonny Boy
  • The Spaniard That Blighted My Life
  • I'm Just Wild About Harry
  • Around a Quarter to Nine
  • Carolina in the Morning
  • Give My Regards to Broadway
  • My Mammy (Reprise)

References

External links

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