Al Jolson, born Asa Yoelson, was an American singer, comedian, and actor who lived from 1886-1950.
In the 1920s, Jolson was immensely popular as America’s highest-paid entertainer.
In 1927 Jolson starred in The Jazz Singer, the first full feature film to have a sound track that included dialogue (though only the musical numbers and some select conversations were recorded for sound).
Al Jolson entertained troops during WWII and the Korean War. He died shortly after returning home from performing for American troops in Korea in October 1950.
Jolson’s style was extroverted, sentimental and melodramatic as he popularized African-American music for white Americans who were otherwise not receptive to black performers.
Often dubbed the king of “blackface” performers (a theatrical convention since the mid-19th century), Jolson unfortunately also popularized racial stereotypes.