from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Jolson, Al Originally Asa Yoelson. 1886-1950. American entertainer who starred in The Jazz Singer (1927), the first major film with synchronized sound.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. United States singer (born in Russia) who appeared in the first full-length talking film (1886-1950)


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Many, including songwriter Sammy Cahn, called Jolson the biggest “cut-in” in history.

    The Movies That Changed Us

  • Brooks, in a powerful essay in The Nation, called her "Jolson in a dress" - Winehouse made blue-eyed soul that verged on minstrelsy.

    NPR Topics: News

  • (Jagger has always been kind of Jolson-esque, hasn't he?)

    Left Behind: Black Music by White Musicians

  • One must also focus on and articulate the fact that Black culture was in many if not most cases so magnetic that it quietly but steadily subverted what was supposed to be the dominant culture (almost exclusively to the economic and status benefit of white popularizers such as Jolson, Goodman, Whiteman, and so on, of course).

    Black Culture

  • Historian Mark Slobin points to “the fact that virtually every Jewish American stage personality, from Weber and Fields through Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, and Eddie Cantor, first reached out to American audiences from behind a mask of burnt cork.”

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • While Berlin, Gershwin, Kern, and Jolson tried to straddle the line between African American music and mainstream sensibilities, Harold Arlen appears to have fully embraced his blackness.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • Over the next two decades, Jolson rose to the top of show business, performing regularly in blackface.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • In 1918, Al Jolson performed “Swanee,” a minstrel song written by the young Jewish songwriter George Gershwin.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • According to his biographer Isaac Goldberg, Jolson was “the living symbol of the similarity” between blacks and Jews.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • Jolson emerged as a star in the 1911 musical La Belle Paree, in which he appeared as Erastus Sparkle, “a colored aristocrat from San Juan Hill, cutting a wide swath in Paris.”

    A Renegade History of the United States


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