Al Jolson

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Postby YokerBloke » Sun May 14, 2006 8:10 pm

DickyHart wrote:could it be that , people started copying it once they had seen it.

Didnt someone start spraying 'Jacklyn smith' or something similar as well!
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Postby greenstar » Mon May 15, 2006 12:57 pm

OK, so it might have been copy-catting, but all the writing did look the same, didn't it. I moved to Glasgow in 1991 and stayed in Radnor Street. I'd noticed more and more of the Al Jolson stuff everywhere, and then it turned up on the list of names for the flat downstairs from us. In what looked like the same handwriting. Maybe it was the ghost of Al?
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Postby cumbo » Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:42 pm

The last Al JoLson tag left in Glasgow?
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Postby Fossil » Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:43 pm

cumbo wrote:The last Al JoLson tag left in Glasgow?
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well spotted 8)
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Postby cumbo » Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:55 pm

Have to admit i am delighted to find this one :D
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Postby Luco » Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:07 pm

cumbo wrote:Have to admit i am delighted to find this one :D


An excellent find!
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Re: Al Jolson

Postby Matt Quinn » Mon Nov 12, 2007 11:05 pm

Well there's nothing like resurrecting a dead thread and muddying the waters at the same time :D

To my certain knowledge there were at least TWO Al Jolson impersonators in and around Glasgow. Our 'artistic' friend was one of course, but he was pre-dated by a very good friend of mine, one Mr Les Smith.

Les had been a cinema projectionist at one time and by the late 70's was encamped in the Audio Visual Unit of Strathclyde University as a storeman/projectionist. He was a HUGE Jolson fan and quite an expert on the man and his music.

Les had also at one point been involved in the variety circuit. He and his Wife Nan had an act that they toured 'round various clubs. I had the pleasure of filming them once in such a club in Port Glasgow. They were very talented people even if what they were presenting had fallen a bit behind the times.

Les' main act though was to dress up and mime to Jolson. Something he was VERY accomplished at, in start contrast to our busker friend. I'm sure some of the lads at the uni must have footage of him and speaking personally it would be nice to see it again. It wouldn't surprise me actually if the 'Jolson' that was spotted on Clydebank was actually Les rather than the other fellow. Les came from and lived in Clydebank (and was quite an authority on the area's history) and did quite a bit of charity work.

Sadly, Les was taken from us a year or three past. quite a blow as (apart from his smoking) he was a very fit, energetic and active man. He was also a very kindly man, providing much in the way of guidance and advice and even doing what he could to help when times got hard. After his retirement he set up his own 'mobile cinema' presenting film shows to the elderly and no doubt reviving many a happy memory for them. It was a real shock to learn of his passing.

Les never said as much to me, but I don't think he was at all impressed by his counterpart. My feeling is that the other guy 'pinched' Les' act, and never really perfected it. Certainly when the 'tags' started going up around the city Les expressed some very definite views as tot he mental state of the author!

But I guess they both brought a smile to a few faces and it's good that these things are remembered and recorded.
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Re: Al Jolson

Postby Dugald » Tue Nov 13, 2007 12:33 am

I enjoyed reading your story very much Matt, and thank you for posting it. I recall the great popularity of Al Jolson following the showing of the film, "The Jolson Story", in Glasgow. I never knew any of the Jolsons you mention, but I can tell you Glasgow was full of Jolson impersonators back in the late 40's, and most of the dance halls all over Glasgow had their own Jolson impersonators. It was very enjoyable music at the time and even though it wasn't Jolson himself who played in the film, he did enjoy a great surge in popularity at the time.
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Re: Al Jolson

Postby Dexter St. Clair » Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:23 pm

Dugald wrote:...I recall the great popularity of Al Jolson following the showing of the film, "The Jolson Story", in Glasgow.It was very enjoyable music at the time and even though it wasn't Jolson himself who played in the film, he did enjoy a great surge in popularity at the time.



Larry Parks did a great job playing Jolson in the two films (Jolson sings again) but I do believe the long Shots of Swanee in The Jolson were done by Al himself.
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Re: Al Jolson

Postby Dugald » Wed Nov 14, 2007 12:28 pm

Dexter St. Clair wrote:
Larry Parks did a great job playing Jolson in the two films (Jolson sings again) but I do believe the long Shots of Swanee in The Jolson were done by Al himself.


Yes Dexter, I remember hearing about that although it was difficult to tell who was who in the black-faced minstral scenes. Talking about black-faced minstral scenes, he'd never get away with that these days; well not in Canada anyway. And yes, Parks was good as Jolson. He didn't do too much after the Jolson Sings Again show and if i recall correctly, he got tied up somehow during the McCarthy "commie" era. By the way, i might mention that among the many Jolson impersonators in Glasgow, there was none of them better than I... well that's what i think anyway!
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Re: Al Jolson

Postby Dexter St. Clair » Wed Nov 14, 2007 8:26 pm

Parks and his wife Betty Garret were amongst a number of artists done in by the House Committee on Un American Activities led by Senator Joe McCarthy. The big studios wanted the unions to be mafia led rather than demcratically led so they backed McCarthy in his campaign against "pre mature anti fascists". Parks wasn't a communist but he lost his film work. He did quite well in night clubs and in Europe and returned to films and TV in the sixties. Betty Garret was in All in the Family and Laverne and Shirley.

But back to the Glasgow Al Jolson

http://www.scottish-screen.com/film/detail.php?id=23250001

Interview with Hugh Dempster who talks about his career as a drag and mime artist. Shots of Dempster as Al Jolson in Glasgow streets. He defends his act against accusations of racism.
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Re: Al Jolson

Postby elgee » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:52 pm

[quote="Matt Quinn"]Well there's nothing like resurrecting a dead thread and muddying the waters at the same time :D

To my certain knowledge there were at least TWO Al Jolson impersonators in and around Glasgow. Our 'artistic' friend was one of course, but he was pre-dated by a very good friend of mine, one Mr Les Smith.

Les had been a cinema projectionist at one time and by the late 70's was encamped in the Audio Visual Unit of Strathclyde University as a storeman/projectionist. He was a HUGE Jolson fan and quite an expert on the man and his music.

Les had also at one point been involved in the variety circuit. He and his Wife Nan had an act that they toured 'round various clubs. I had the pleasure of filming them once in such a club in Port Glasgow. They were very talented people even if what they were presenting had fallen a bit behind the times.

Les' main act though was to dress up and mime to Jolson. Something he was VERY accomplished at, in start contrast to our busker friend. I'm sure some of the lads at the uni must have footage of him and speaking personally it would be nice to see it again. It wouldn't surprise me actually if the 'Jolson' that was spotted on Clydebank was actually Les rather than the other fellow. Les came from and lived in Clydebank (and was quite an authority on the area's history) and did quite a bit of charity work.

Sadly, Les was taken from us a year or three past. quite a blow as (apart from his smoking) he was a very fit, energetic and active man. He was also a very kindly man, providing much in the way of guidance and advice and even doing what he could to help when times got hard. After his retirement he set up his own 'mobile cinema' presenting film shows to the elderly and no doubt reviving many a happy memory for them. It was a real shock to learn of his passing.

Les never said as much to me, but I don't think he was at all impressed by his counterpart. My feeling is that the other guy 'pinched' Les' act, and never really perfected it. Certainly when the 'tags' started going up around the city Les expressed some very definite views as tot he mental state of the author!

But I guess they both brought a smile to a few faces and it's good that these things are remembered and recorded.[/quote]

They (Les and Nan) were neighbours of mine at one time. A lovely couple with a lovely family. Good people.
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