Al Jolson Home Page|His Works|Radio|03 Aug 38 Irving Berlin Tribute

Al Jolson's experience with radio began in the dawn of the medium, and continued until the birth of television, and his death. He started the Kraft Music Hall, along with programs for Lifebuoy Soap, Colgate Tooth Powder, and Chevrolet, and died while waiting to go on to Bing Crosby's Chesterfield program. On this page, I will be featuring radio programs, in Real Audio format, for your enjoyment.

Do you think that a star appearing on television to plug a new movie is a new phenomenon? Well, guess again! This program, which was broadcast over the CBS network on August 3, 1938, was little more than a hour long commercial for the movie, Alexander's Ragtime Band.
Jolson, Faye, Power and Berlin
Al Jolson, Alice Faye, Tyrone Power
with Irving Berlin on piano

Al Jolson was firmly ensconced on radio when this tribute was broadcast, as host of his Lifebuoy Program. Nonetheless, he turned out with a constellation of stars to play tribute to the man who Jerome Kern called "American music," personified.

Walter Winchell opened the program with his classic teleticker opening, followed by Ethel Merman, who declared We're Having A "Heat Wave." The program was then turned over to the evening's master of ceremonies, Al Jolson.

After a few little bars of song, Jolson was joined by Irving Berlin, himself. Don't miss the customized version of the song Berlin wrote for Jolson, "Let Me Sing And I'm Happy."

Eddie Cantor next joined the program, with his own version of early Berlin history. He and Jolie threw it back and forth a bit, giving each a chance to show off. By the end, they even roped Berlin into a chorus or so.

Sophie Tucker was the next featured player, and Jolson found his way onto the stage with her, their only recorded collaboration. Next, Ben Bernie and Lew Lehr, The Brox Sisters, Rudy Vallee, Tommy Dorsey, Connee Boswell, and Guy Lombardo. The songs sung by each were all Belin classics.

Ethel Merman returned to Jolson's introduction, as did Paul Whiteman, who introduced Jon Steel for the conclusion of this segment of the show.

Louella Parsons interviewed Darryl F. Zanuck in a wonderfully scripted piece, so spontaneous it's not, about the movie.

The second half of the show is devoted to a radio trailer for the movie, Alexander's Ragtime Band, with Alice Faye and Tyrone Power, but not, I'm afraid, Don Ameche.

Finally, a finale with Ethel Merman, Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, Al Jolson, and everyone else. The program ran over the allotted hour by about 15 minutes, so an apology was issued to the following program, and this tribute to Irving Berlin, and promo for the movie, comes to a close.


Listen to this radio program and watch a Video Podcast with an excerpt of the show illustrated with photos of the stars.

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     This is an excerpt of the 03 Aug 1938 Tribute to Irving Berlin featuring Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor and Irving Berlin, illustrated with images of the stars to get a feeling for the broadcast. This one hour radio program was both a tribute to Berlin, and a plug for the new movie Alexander's Ragtime Band. Along with the many other stars in the show, enjoy three great stars singing great Berlin tunes.


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This listing and material Copyright © 1995-2017 Marc I. Leavey, M.D. Baltimore, Maryland
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