Artist picture of Al Jolson

Al Jolson

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Swanee Al Jolson 01:50
I'm Sittin' on Top of the World Al Jolson 01:54
You Made Me Love You Al Jolson 02:43
Bye Bye Baby Al Jolson 01:28
Tell That to the Marines Al Jolson 02:49
When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along Al Jolson 02:02
My Mammy Al Jolson 03:00
Pretty Baby Al Jolson 02:37
I Love To Singa Al Jolson 03:04
Hello Ma Baby Al Jolson 01:16

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Biography

Born in a Jewish village in Russia, Al Jolson became one of the most iconic and highest paid stars of the 1930s, indelibly associated with songs like Swanee and Mamie and "blacking up" in the style of old minstrel shows; a practice unthinkable today, but which wasn't considered racist in the climate of the day and brought Jolson great fame. He was five when his father, a rabbi, moved to America, the rest of the family joining him there three years later and, during times of hardship, Jolson developed a street act performing for money with his brothers. In 1902 he joined a circus, originally working as an usher, but going on to become a singer in a segment about an Indian medicine show. He then joined a burlesque show before forming a vaudeville partnership with his brother Hirsch, later teaming up with Joe Palmer as a trio. By 1909 he was working as a solo singer and got himself a job on the minstrel shows, continuing his "blackface" performances in Broadway theatrical shows like Vera Violetta and The Whirl Of Society, Robinson Crusoe Jnr and Sinbad. It was in Sinbad that he sang his most famous numbers, George Gershwin's Swanee and My Mammy, for the first time and he was on his way to becoming Broadway's biggest star. In 1927 he starred in the first "talkie" film, The Jazz Singer - choosing to sing without blacking up - and fought against racial discrimination in the entertainment industry. Other famous Jolson movies include The Singing Fool (1928), Hallelujah I'm A Bum (1933), Wonder Bar (1934) and The Singing Kid (1936). He continued to perform through the 1940s - entertaining the troops in World War 2 - and was planning a television spectacular when he had a heart attack and died in 1950.