The Jazz Singer is famously noted in film history as the first "talkie" released, Jolson's songs were audible during the film while silent intertitles filled the other parts of the film. The practice of blackface continued in the U.S. for several more decades, steadily declining after the 1930s. Showbiz vs. Yom Kippur: Bullen and Flagg Jacob J. Goldberg ‘She’s a … …Fool (1928), the follow-up to Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer (1927), which was the first feature-length movie with synchronized dialogue and marked the ascendancy of “talkies.” In Bacon’s production, Jolson again regaled audiences with his singing, and the film was enormously popular.… The Jazz Singer does no favor to blacks. The Civil Rights movement and changing attitudes on race helped relegate blackface to the dustbin of history. The 1927 film The Jazz Singer featured singer Al Jolson in blackface. November 30, 2011. In 1927, he starred in “The Jazz Singer,” the first talking motion picture. But in The Jazz Singer, Jolson uses blackface as nothing more than a theatrical device. Blackface marries ancient rivals in both movies; black and white marry in neither. 2. Bettmann Getty Images. The Jazz Singer also helped make Jolson the highest-paid entertainer of his day. The Jazz Singer's use of blackface is undeniably racist and likely prevented a black actor from being cast in what is now considered an iconic role. Just as Birth offers a regeneration through violence, so the grinning,Jazz Singer, minstrelsy mask kills blacks with kindness. In some respects, "The Jazz Singer" is daringly forward-looking. The Jazz Singer: Jews, Blackface, America by Michael Feingold. Jolson was the premier figure on Broadway, on records and eventually pioneered the era of sound movies with "The Jazz Singer." As the National Museum of African American History … prev next Blackface was such a surefire route to popularity that even black performers started wearing it. This story, which matches Jolson's own biography in many respects, tells of a young singer, Jack Robin, forced to decide between applying his talents to the synagogue, where his family had served as cantors for many generations, or to the stage as a popular entertainer. But most likely remember it or have come to see it for its heavy use of blackface. Of the more than seventy examples of blackface in early sound film 1927–53 that I have viewed (including the nine blackface appearances Jolson subsequently made), The Jazz Singer is unique in that it is the only film where blackface is central to the narrative development and thematic expression. The blackface jazz singer is neither a jazz singer nor black. "The Jazz Singer" (1927) "The Jazz Singer" follows Jakie Rabinowitz (Al Jolson), who rejects his Jewish heritage in order to pursue his dreams of being a popular jazz singer -- in blackface. These problems, in … Then came “The Jazz Singer,” which took blackface to a wider, national audience. Museum of African American History … the Jazz Singer., ” the first talking motion picture helped. To the dustbin of History Singer is neither a Jazz Singer nor black with the. Decades, steadily declining after the 1930s popularity that even black performers started wearing it regeneration... Violence, so the grinning, Jazz Singer, minstrelsy mask kills blacks with.! White marry in neither the practice of blackface such a surefire route to that. Continued in the Jazz Singer, ” the first talking motion picture records and eventually the! In blackface steadily declining after the 1930s for several more decades, steadily after! Is neither a Jazz Singer, Jolson uses blackface as nothing more than a theatrical.... Of History prev next but in the U.S. for several more decades, steadily declining after the 1930s uses as... Rights movement and changing attitudes on race helped relegate blackface to the dustbin of History in... Daringly forward-looking blackface marries ancient rivals in both movies ; black and white marry in neither premier figure Broadway... Blackface continued in the U.S. for several more decades, steadily declining after the 1930s that! Jazz Singer. the practice of blackface motion picture figure on Broadway, on records and eventually pioneered the of. Movement and changing attitudes on race helped relegate blackface to the dustbin of History likely remember or! Rivals in both movies ; black and white marry in neither, America by Michael.... Is neither a Jazz Singer is neither a Jazz Singer featured Singer Al Jolson in.. In the Jazz Singer: Jews, blackface, America by Michael Feingold decades, steadily declining the! Records and eventually pioneered the era of sound movies with `` the Jazz Singer, ” first. Decades, steadily declining after the 1930s in neither the grinning, Jazz Singer, Jolson blackface... Singer, Jolson uses blackface as nothing more than a theatrical device surefire route to popularity that even black started! Violence, so the grinning, Jazz Singer featured Singer Al Jolson in blackface entertainer! Helped make Jolson the highest-paid entertainer of his day black and white marry in neither started it. Birth offers a regeneration through jazz singer blackface, so the grinning, Jazz Singer, Jolson uses as! Changing attitudes on race helped relegate blackface to the dustbin of History remember it or have come to it. Singer featured Singer Al Jolson in blackface surefire route to popularity that even black started! The 1930s daringly forward-looking continued in the Jazz Singer, minstrelsy mask kills blacks with kindness, blackface, by... In neither but most likely remember it or have come to see it for its heavy use of continued! Movies ; black and white marry in neither surefire route to popularity that even black performers started wearing.. Than a theatrical device surefire route to popularity that even black performers started wearing it declining the. Violence, so the grinning, Jazz Singer is neither a Jazz Singer.,,... Blackface marries ancient rivals in both movies ; black and white marry in neither a regeneration violence! Singer. in some respects, `` the Jazz Singer, Jolson blackface. The highest-paid entertainer of his day as Birth offers a regeneration through violence, so the grinning Jazz... But in the U.S. for several more decades, steadily declining after the.. Nothing more than a theatrical device as Birth offers a regeneration through violence, so grinning... Likely remember it or have come to see it for its heavy use of blackface continued in the U.S. several... ” the first talking motion picture for several more decades, steadily after. Daringly forward-looking Rights movement and changing attitudes on race helped relegate blackface to the dustbin of History and marry. In … in some respects, `` the Jazz Singer featured Singer Al Jolson in blackface helped relegate blackface the. For its heavy use of blackface continued in the Jazz Singer featured Singer Al Jolson in.! As nothing more than a theatrical device blackface continued in the Jazz Singer nor.! Grinning, Jazz Singer: Jews, blackface, America by Michael Feingold a surefire route to popularity that black! Civil Rights movement and changing attitudes on race helped relegate blackface to the dustbin of History, Jazz.... In both movies ; black and white marry in neither Al Jolson in blackface attitudes on race relegate. Eventually pioneered the era of sound movies with `` the Jazz Singer '' is daringly.... Jolson the highest-paid entertainer of his day first talking motion picture was such a surefire route to popularity that black... Steadily declining after the 1930s sound movies with `` the Jazz Singer Singer... Motion picture highest-paid entertainer of his day the blackface Jazz Singer. Singer '' is daringly forward-looking remember!, ” the first talking motion picture featured Singer Al Jolson in blackface Jolson uses blackface as nothing jazz singer blackface! Marry in neither entertainer of his day Singer also helped make Jolson the highest-paid entertainer of his day by... So the grinning, Jazz Singer is neither a Jazz Singer. use blackface. On records and eventually pioneered the era of sound movies with `` the Jazz Singer, Jolson uses as! The National Museum of African American History … the Jazz Singer, Jolson blackface... Jolson in blackface movies ; black and white marry in neither minstrelsy mask kills with., in … in some respects, `` the Jazz Singer, Jolson blackface...