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Al Jolson

Date of Birth:
May 26, 1886

Date of Death:
October 23, 1950

Quote count:

Times favorited:

Al Jolson 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.

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