Although the risk is made light of in the movie The Jolson Story, the making of The Jazz Singer, the first successful talking picture, was not a sure thing. Warner Brothers Studios were in deep financial trouble when they contemplated producing this property, which they had acquired after George Jessel starred in a Broadway production. Although in retrospect it proved to be quite a good move, Jolson's acceptance of stock in lieu of salary in the making of the movie allowed Warner Brothers to proceed with production of The Jazz Singer in the precarious financial position the studio inhabited.
To say that the movie was a success may be a supreme understatement. At the first Academy Award ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences felt that The Jazz Singer was not fair competition for silent films, and awarded the first Best Picture award to Wings.
Well, now it's time we mounted an effort to get Al Jolson an Oscar of his own. On a website called Oscarworld, webmaster Jason O'Brien provides an opportunity to, perhaps, get a name into official consideration. As he says on the site:
As most of you are aware, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does give out other awards besides its annual achievement Oscars for each year's films. These special awards are not given every year, although most every year honorary Academy Awards are given. This is a place for you to have your voice heard about people in the film industry, either past or present, who you feel are long overdue to receive one of these honors ... be it the Thalberg Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, or an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement.I have placed Al Jolson's name into nomination in two categories, the Honorary Academy Award, given to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy; and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, given to an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry. All we need are your comments in support of those nominations.
Once a nominee has received a substantial number of supporting replies, the information will be forwarded to appropriate members of the media and the Academy. We can't guarantee that your nominee will indeed get serious consideration, but at least it's a place where your voice can be heard.