Al Jolson

Born May 26, 1886

Al Jolson was an American singer, comedian and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer". His performing style was brash and extroverted, and he popularized a large number of songs that benefited from his "shamelessly sentimental, melodramatic approach".… Read More

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1886 Birth Jolson claimed not to know when he was born, and later chose to claim he was born on May 26, 1886. … Read More
1891 5 Years Old In 1891, his father, who was qualified as a rabbi and cantor, moved to New York to secure a better future for his family.
1894 8 Years Old By 1894, Moses Yoelson could afford to pay the fare to bring Naomi and his four children to America. … Read More


1902 16 Years Old In the spring of 1902, he accepted a job with Walter L. Main's Circus. … Read More
1903 17 Years Old In May 1903, the head producer of the burlesque show Dainty Duchess Burlesquers agreed to give Jolson a part in one show. … Read More
1904 18 Years Old While performing in a Brooklyn theater in 1904, Al decided on a new approach and began wearing blackface makeup, which boosted his career. … Read More


1906 20 Years Old By 1906 the two agreed to separate, and Jolson was on his own. … Read More
1908 22 Years Old In 1908 Jolson, needing money for himself and his new wife, Henrietta, returned to New York. … Read More
1911 25 Years Old 1 More Event
According to Esquire magazine, "J.J. Shubert, impressed by Jolson's overpowering display of energy, booked him for La Belle Paree, a musical comedy that opened at the Winter Garden in 1911. … Read More
1914 28 Years Old Jolson would reprise his role as "Gus" in future plays and by 1914 achieved so much popularity with the theater audience that his $1,000-a-week salary was doubled to $2,000 a week.


1916 - 1918 2 More Events
1920 34 Years Old 1 More Event
By 1920, Jolson had become the biggest star on Broadway. … Read More
1922 36 Years Old In March 1922, he moved the production to the larger Century Theater for a special benefit performance to aid injured Jewish veterans of World War I.
1923 37 Years Old After taking the show on the road for a season, he returned in May 1923, to perform Bombo at his "first love," the Winter Garden. … Read More


1926 - 1928 2 More Events
1931 45 Years Old Despite these new troubles, Jolson was able to make a comeback after performing a concert in New Orleans after "Wonderbar" closed in 1931. … Read More
1934 48 Years Old In 1934, he starred in a movie version of his earlier stage play Wonder Bar, co-starring Kay Francis, Dolores del Río, Ricardo Cortez, and Dick Powell. … Read More
1935 49 Years Old 1 More Event
Returning to Warners, Jolson bowed to new production ideas, focusing less on the star and more on elaborately cinematic numbers staged by Busby Berkeley and Bobby Connolly. This new approach worked, sustaining Jolson's movie career until the Warner contract lapsed in 1935. … Read More


…  He demanded permission to go anywhere in the world where there is an American serviceman who wouldn't mind listening to 'Sonny Boy' or 'Mammy'. and early in 1942, Jolson became the first star to perform at a GI base in World War II". … Read More
1945 59 Years Old They were married on March 22, 1945.


1946 60 Years Old In 1946, during a nationally broadcast testimonial dinner in New York City, given on his behalf, he received a special tribute from the American Veterans Committee in honor of his volunteer services during WWII.
1947 61 Years Old …  His own 1930s shows included Presenting Al Jolson (1932) and Shell Chateau (1935), and he was the host of the Kraft Music Hall from 1947 to 1949, with Oscar Levant as a sardonic, piano-playing sidekick. … Read More
1949 63 Years Old In 1949, the movie Jolson Sings Again recreated some scenes showing Jolson during his war tours.
…  In 1950, he again became the first star to entertain GIs on active service in the Korean War, performing 42 shows in 16 days. … Read More
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