Al Jolson

Jolson, Al (jōlˈsən) [key], 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Al Jolson from Fact Monster:

  • Al Jolson - Al Jolson (Asa Yoelson) entertainer Born: 5/26/1886 Birthplace: Lithuania Entertainer who performed ...
  • This Day in History: October 6 - October 6 1927 "The Jazz Singer," the first full-length talking picture, starring Al ...
  • George Gershwin - Biography of George Gershwin, Composer of Rhapsody in Blue
  • burlesque - burlesque burlesque [Ital.,=mockery], form of entertainment differing from comedy or farce in that ...
  • Information Please: 1947 - 1947 Previous Year | Next Year World | U.S. | Economics | Sports | Entertainment | Science | Deaths ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Theater: Biographies