AL JOLSON Biography - Other artists & entretainers


Biography » other artists entretainers » al jolson


Name: Al Jolson                                                                   
Birth name: Asa Yoelson                                                           
Born: 26 May 1886 Lithuania, Russian Empire                                       
Died: 23 October 1950                                                             
Al Jolson (May 26, 1886-October 23, 1950) was a highly acclaimed American singer, 
comedian and actor of Jewish heritage whose career lasted from 1911 until his     
death in 1950. He was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century   
whose influence extended to other popular performers, including Bing Crosby,     
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Mandy Patinkin, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis, Jr.,       
Eddie Fisher, Jerry Lewis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Michael     
Jackson, Rufus Wainwright, David Lee Roth and Rod Stewart.                       
Al Jolson was the first popular singer to make a spectacular "event" out of       
singing a song. Prior to Jolson, popular singers such as John McCormack and       
Henry Burr would stand still, with only very minimal gesturing as they performed. 
In contrast, Jolson displayed tremendous energy using dynamic gestures and other 
movement. Jolson was the first entertainer to have a runway extending out from   
the center of the stage, so he could be closer to the audience. It was very       
common for Jolson to sit on the end of the runway and have personal one-on-one   
conversations with audience members, which had also never been done before.       
Jolson was known to stop major Broadway productions in which he was performing,   
turn to the audience and ask them if they would rather hear him sing instead of   
watching the rest of the play. The answer was always a resounding yes, and       
Jolson would spend at least the next hour singing an impromptu concert. His       
friend George Burns said, "...Jolson was all show business!"