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International Al Jolson Society

50th Anniversary Jolson Festival

Friday, May 19, 2000 through Sunday, May 21, 2000
Embassy Suites Hotel - Milwaukee West
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Ira Green
captured the voice and the soul of the
World's Greatest Entertainer
Look and Listen to Ira Green.
The International Al Jolson Society held a celebration of love and longevity during their annual convention where it all began, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Once again, Skip Mack organized a highly successful convention; one that highlighted the memory of the World's Greatest Entertainer and the person whose vision and dedication was largely responsible for preserving that memory, Dolores Kontowicz. In all, over 150 members from around the world attended this convention and over $6000.00 were added to the IAJS Treasury.

The accommodations were absolutely outstanding at the Embassy Suites Hotel. The entire establishment seemed to be honoring the great Al Jolson as well as the Society members. A gigantic banner welcoming the Al Jolson Society was hung in the center of the hotel. Many of Mr. Jolson's movies were played during the day for the pleasure of all guests. Rooms were set up for dinners and entertainment as well as memorabilia purchases that would benefit the Society coffers.

Richard Halpern
Richard Halpern
Mr. Tin Pan Alley
Look and Listen to Richard Halpern
Society members were thoroughly entertained by the singing talents of Rudy Wissler, Davey Lee, Richard Halpern, Bill Campbell, Mel Thomas, and Ira Green. Jan Hernstat served as a very impressive auctioneer as many rare and interesting items of jolson memorabilia were sold to the highest bidder. In between the marvelous meals, the rousing sang, and the competitive bidding for the most sought-after Jolson items, the membership expressed a strong spirit of love for Al Jolson and Society founder Dolores Kontowicz. A beautiful cake was served to commemorate the occasion.

The final day was spent honoring the many fine persons who had devoted their time and energy to the preservation of the memory of Al Jolson, The World's Greatest Entertainer. President John Wehrman presented Longevity awards to Norman Duck, Wiilliam Purdy, and Tony Farnfield of Great Britain; Eleanor Setches of Australia; and Dick Mueller, and Harry Rhinehart of the USA. Presidential Awards were presented to Robert Krueger, Skip Mack, Tom Connolly, Dolores Kontowicz, Stan Ball, and Ira Green. Honorary Memberships were bestowed upon Jim Brockson and Dick Mueller. Finally, the Irvin Warwick Award was given to Harry Rhinehart for lifetime achievement in the promotion of Al Jolson.

The Convention ended with a sincere demonstration of love for all members. This outward expression of love was, in the opinion of this editor, the single common theme of the weekend. The Society not only loves and appreciates Al Jolson, they also love one another.

Adapted from the report in Jolson Journal Number 93 - Fall 2000 - edited by the late Dan Tarnow

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This listing and material Copyright © 2000-2013 Marc I. Leavey, M.D. Baltimore, Maryland
Updated 26 Mar 00
Updated 17 Nov 13