Al Jolson Home Page|The IAJS|Jolson Stories from the Military
Through the efforts of Kirk Estee and Marvin Freeman, the Jolson Service Project has uncovered many formerly unheard stories of Jolson and those he entertained. Here are recent stories that have been discovered:

IAJS member Dr. Jeff Busch, a dentist in Rochester, NY, passed along this story about a recently deceased patient of his:

I know a gentleman, Harold Feinberg, who in 1948, enlisted in the Army. In July of 1950 Harold, like so many other young men that year, was called to arms to fight Communist aggression on the Korean peninsula. Harold was assigned to Artillery Maintenance at the front lines.

During a break in the fighting, when he was pulled back to Pusan in a non-direct combat area, Harold learned that there was going to be a live entertainment performance that he would be able to attend. Harold was in attendance at the performance Al Jolson gave in the huge empty swimming pool. Harold says he cannot pick himself out of any of the photographs but he does remember sitting inside the pool facing Jolson.

Harold says he was certainly aware of who Al Jolson was, but did not have any special appreciation for him as an entertainer. Harold sadly admits that most of Jolson's performance that day has faded from his memory, except for Al's bantering/story telling. Jolson sang "Brother Can You Spare a Dime". This is the only song he vividly recalls Jolie singing, yet somehow became indelibly etched in his memory.

Years later, Harold settled in Rochester, NY and raised a family. Along the way, he pursued his interest of becoming a professional clown. In one of his acts, Harold took on the persona of a proberbial "Tramp". Besides performing in various venues, he also participated in clown competitions. The normal act required a three minute program. Well, serendipity intervened as Harold determined that Al Jolson's "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" was exactly three minutes in length. So, he was able to rely on Mr. Jolson's golden voice to guide his act along. According to Harold, his act went over very well and he certainly attributes his accompaniment with Jolie as a big factor!

IAJS members Margaret and Darryl Thomas, who live in Australia, passed along the following story:
We knew a Mr. John Pulley, now deceased who told us that during WW II he was 18 yrs old in England repairing bombed railway lines. One day a balding man comes up to him and some co-workers and says, "Hey would you like me to sing a song or two?" They thought he was just another soldier since he was dressed like one, so he sings "Avalon" and maybe one or two others, songs all new to the workers but they didn't pay that much attention, with bombers overhead, etc. That night or the next day, there was going to be a big USO show, and it is starring this great entertainer -- Al Jolson. Mr. Pulley and his army mates are "gobsmacked" when they realize it's the same old codger who had asked if he could sing a song or two for them. Of course, he did "Avalon" again, made some crack about properly and "glad you boys can sit down and watch me for a change, etc..." the fun and spontaneity of it all obviously was so fantastic as all the stories go! From that day on Mr. Pulley's favorite Jolson song was always ... AVALON!

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This listing and material Copyright © 1995-2017 Marc I. Leavey, M.D. Baltimore, Maryland
Updated 01 Jan 17
Updated 05 Feb 17