Al Jolson Home Page|The Man|Jolson's Wives

Contrary to the impression given by the filmed biographies of his life, Al Jolson married four times, not just twice. Further, neither wife depicted in film is shown by a correct name. Here is a look at the four women in Jolie's life.

with first wife Henrietta 20 Sep 1907 - 26 Jun 1919: Henrietta Keller became the first Mrs. Al Jolson when Jolson's star was just beginning to rise. She saw him through his early successes, and hung on as he became the toast of Broadway. Their marriage was clearly stormy, with Al's eye wandering on and off stage. Although their marriage had ended, the interpolated "Oh, Henrietta" in the 1922 recording of "Angel Child" is widely interpreted as a call to a love lost.

Al and Ethel 18 Aug 1922 - 19 Apr 1926: Ethel Delmar, whose real name was Alma Osborne, was a pretty little thing when Al Jolson took a liking to her and made her the second Mrs. Al Jolson. Traveling with him as he took shows like Bombo and Big Boy on the road, she was often alone, feeling as though Jolson would trot her out when a wife was needed.

Al and Ruby 21 Sep 1928 - 26 Dec 1939: Ethel Hilda "Ruby" Keeler, the third and most famous Mrs. Al Jolson. Marrying Jolson just as his film career was taking off, their marriage spanned the heights of his career, and the depths of his being forgotten by the public before World War II. Her career, on the other hand, took off, and she eventually eclipsed her husband's star. During their marriage, they adopted a son, naming him Al Jolson, Jr. The Jolsons appeared in a movie together, Go Into Your Dance, and Ruby was initially in the cast of the last Jolson Broadway show, Hold On to Your Hats, withdrawing while still in the tryout run.

Al and Erle 24 Mar 1945 - 23 Oct 1950: Erle Galbraith, an X-ray technician from Hot Springs, Arkansas, became the fourth Mrs. Al Jolson, with their marriage still alive at the time of his death on 23 Oct 1950. Falling in love with this young girl while recuperating from illness following his visits to the troops in World War II, her love encouraged Jolie to appear in a brief appearance in Rhapsody In Blue playing himself, as well as the two biopix, The Jolson Story and Jolson Sings Again. With Erle, they adopted a son, Asa Jr., and a daughter, Alicia.

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All material on this website Copyright © 2004 : Marc I. Leavey, M.D., Stevenson, MD