“You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet”

15 08 2011

Opening night of "The Jolson Story"

A New Jewy? America since the Second World War
By Peter Y. Medding, Oxford University Press, 1992

While Einstein was based in Zurich, formulating in abstract mathematical terms the notion that energy consisted of mc², he might have easily discovered its most ebullient embodiment dominating the vaudeville circuit across the Atlantic. Perhaps no white entertainer in American history has ever exuded the demonic razzle-dazzle and the kinetic force of Al Jolson; probably no one could match his Eureka gift for deluding everybody in the audience into believing that “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody” or “Sonny Boy” was being belted out just for them. Read the rest of this entry »

“Rose of Washington Square”

25 03 2011


Twentieth Century-Fox Strolls Down Melody Lane in ‘Rose of Washington Square,’ at the Roxy

New York Times
By Frank Nugent
Published: May 6, 1939

Twentieth Century-Fox’s latest tour down Melody Lane has come to the Roxy under the blushing title “Rose of Washington Square,” the Rose being neither Al Jolson nor Tyrone Power (as we had feared), but Alice Faye, who flowers lushly in the cabarets and flounces of the post-war years. Obviously designed as a thematic sequel to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” the picture makes much the same capital of its sentimentally evocative score, its nostalgic reminders of the speakeasy era, its delicate reminder that the Nineteen Twenties already have become a “costume period.” Read the rest of this entry »

A Star is Born: Larry Parks as Al Jolson

13 02 2011

poster - jolson story

New York Times, Oct. 27, 1946

Introducing Larry Parks, Al Jolson’s Alter Ego”

A YOUNG man from Olathe, Kan., who is prancing the Music Hall’s screen as Al Jolson, is the sudden current personification of the “‘Star Is Born” motif. His name is Larry Parks. In setting about to make “The Jolson Story” two years ago, Columbia Pictures put on the traditional search for the man who would play the name role. Most of the aspirants had indulged in that popular American indoor sport, giving an imitation of the “Mammy” perpetrator. None, however, seemed to be just what Sidney Skolsky, the columnist who who turned producer to film the story of his lifelong friend, ordered. Read the rest of this entry »

Jackie Wilson’s tribute to Al Jolson

26 05 2010

In 1961, Jackie Wilson recorded a tribute album to Al Jolson,  “You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet,” which included the album liner notes below – and which were the only liner notes he ever wrote for an album: Read the rest of this entry »

Show Business to Korea’s Front Lines

4 03 2010
Jolson visiting a Tokyo hospital







Jolson, other names want to work in Korea

Billboard, August 12th 1950.

HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 5. — With the intensification of the Korean crisis, showbiz here is girding for battle. Names and various orgs devoted to entertaining the troops during the last war are either resuming their previous operations or are ready to go into action on a call from Washington. Al Jolson, one of the first personalities to hit the fighting front in World War Two, has volunteered to entertain armed forces in Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

The spirit of Larry Parks

19 02 2010

Taken from Monthly Review online magazine, “MRZine”  Feb. 19, 2010

Parks was called to testify before HUAC on March 21, 1951, not long after attaining stardom in two biopics about Al Jolson.  Parks told the congressional Committee: “Being a member of the Communist Party fulfilled certain needs of a young man who was . . . idealistic . . . for the underprivileged, the underdog.” Read the rest of this entry »