Al Jolson Home Page|The Man|Jolson's Legacy|Passing of the Jazz Singer|Funeral Newsreel

The passing of Al Jolson was a major news event in 1950. Here is a look at the way people saw the news at their local theatre.
After Al Jolson's death, on October 23, 1950, his funeral was held at Temple Israel on October 26. An estimated twenty thousand people converged on the Temple for the rites. The public was allowed to file past his bier following the coffin's arrival at 9:00 am. After two hours, more than 2000 people had stepped up to pay their respects.

The Funeral of Al Jolson  

Here is a look at a newsreel of the day, showing clips of the funeral of Al Jolson, with a glimpse of his greatness.

Click here or on the photo to view this clip

This clip is included on the IAJS DVD
Jolson on Celluloid
available to members of the International Al Jolson Society
from the Video Department.

Some details of the funeral gives a feeling to the magnitude of this event. The active pallbearers were: Louis Epstein, Harry Cohn, Al Goetz, Arthur Stebbins, Harry Brand, Nathan Kramer, Harry Akst, Martin Fried, John Steinberg and Maurice Aroff.

The Honorary pallbearers were: Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Lou Bring, George Burns, Ken Carpenter, Eddie Cantor, Bing Crosby, cecil B. DeMille, Bob Hope, George Jessel, Norman Krasna, Abe Lastfogel, William Morris, William Paley, Groucho Marx, L.B. Mayer, Joe Schenck, Sidney Skolsky, Morris Stoloff, Jerry Wald, Jack Warner, Darryl Zanuck----and many others.

The crowd of 20,000 almost created a mob scene outside the Temple, services had to be delayed 20 minutes to restrain everyone. There over 700 invited guests inside, plus an additional 700 or more invited in from the waiting crowd on the street on a first come, first served basis.

Included at the service -- among others -- were such notables as Danny Thomas, Harry Jolson, Danny Kaye, Ludwig Donath, Larry Parks, Betty Garrett, William Demarest, Joe E. Brown, Eleanor Powell, Ralph Morgan, John Garfield, Glenn Ford, Ted Lewis, Tony Martin and Sam Jaffe.

Jolson was dressed in his favorite navy blue suit, blue knitted tie and white shirt. He wore a white fringed tallit (prayer shawl). A button citation from the Italian government for entertaining troops during WWII was pinned on his lapel.

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This listing and material Copyright © 1995-2014 Marc I. Leavey, M.D. Baltimore, Maryland
Updated 12 Jun 06
Updated 26 Oct 14