Al Jolson Home Page|His Works|Radio|01 Jan 48 Kraft Music Hall

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 full length radio programs, in Real Audio format, for your enjoyment.

Jolson and Carroll imagined Al Jolson and Madeleine Carroll

Although not well known today, Madeleine Carroll was a popular British performer of the late 1940s, with many successful film credits, when she graced the Kraft Music Hall of New Year's Day, January 1, 1948.

Al opened the program that Thursday, New Year's Day, with one of his classics, "Avalon." You may find this hard to believe, but this was the only time he sang this song on the Kraft Music Hall.

The opening jokes, of course, involved jokes about the New Year, Jolson's age, and a tip to the show's sponsor. There was even a tip to the Rose Bowl, and we know who Jolson was rooting for from his "Oy vey" response. Oscar Levant then bought out one of his old favorites, the "Sabre Dance."

Ken Carpenter took center stage next, with the tale of small packages filled with creamy richness -- Philadelphia brand!

After the commercial, an old joke from previous programs gets recycled, along with another story about the Rose Bowl. Jolson then tried to recap his New Year's Eve party, where he sang about a thousand songs, no doubt. As a sample, Al offered up versions of "My Blue Heaven" and the Gershwin classic from Porgy and Bess, so appropriate to this time of year, "Summertime."

After a trip to the forest with Peter and the Wolf, which Jolson declined to join, Al then introduced a new song, written by his friends Martin Fried and Benee Russell, "Who and Where." In a rare, but typically Jolson, move, Jolie did an encore of this piece, phrased a bit differently, as only Jolie could.

Madeleine Carroll's entrance was scripted for a laugh, and included nice words for Levant as well. Responding to his lack of a British accent, Jolson, Levant, and Carroll proceeded to attempt a Noël Coward type radio play. Jolson's accent? You be the judge!

After jumping into the comedy bit at the end, Ken Carpenter continued his air time with another yet cream cheese commercial.

With 1948 to be the year of Jolson's second bio-pic, Al chose the hit number from the first film, The Jolson Story, "The Anniversary Song," as his final musical number of the evening.

Jolson did not close the show in song, but in prose, with a moving quote from Abraham Lincoln. These words, almost one hundred years old when recited by Al Jolson, still ring true, even today, some 150 years after being spoken.


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 01 Jan 1948 broadcast of the Kraft Music Hall, starring Al Jolson. While Madeleine Carroll was the guest on this week's show, you will have to listen to the full show on the site; this excerpt includes Jolson and Oscar Levant from the middle of the show. Jolson sang "My Blue Heaven," and "Summertime," and Levant was his usual self with accompaniment and repartee. Photos of Oscar and Al on the Kraft Music Hall help complete the experience.


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