Al Jolson, 1886 – 1950

October 23, 1950 – Death of Al Jolson, Lithuanian-American film actor, comedian and singer.  At the peak of his career, he was dubbed “The World’s Greatest Entertainer.” His performing style was brash and extroverted, and he popularized a large number of songs that benefited from his “shamelessly sentimental, melodramatic approach.”

Although he is best remembered today as the star of the first sound movie, The Jazz Singer (1927), he later starred in a series of successful musical films throughout the 1930s. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was the first star to entertain troops overseas during World War II.

According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, “Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock ‘n’ roll.” Being the first popular singer to make a spectacular event out of singing a song, he became a rock star before the dawn of rock music. His specialty was performing on stage runways extending out into the audience. He would run up and down the runway, and across the stage, “teasing, cajoling, and thrilling the audience”, often stopping to sing to individual members; all the while the “perspiration would be pouring from his face, and the entire audience would get caught up in the ecstasy of his performance”.  (above excerpted from Wikipedia)

In 1994, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 29-cent stamp honoring Jolson (Scott No. 2849):

 

al jolson

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Arthur Miller, 1915 – 2005

October 17, 1915 – Birthdate of Arthur Asher Miller (d. February 10, 2005).  Miller was an American playwright, essayist, and figure in twentieth-century American theater. Among his most popular plays are All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View from The Bridge (1955, revised 1956). He also wrote several screenplays. The drama Death of a Salesman has been numbered on the short list of finest American plays in the 20th century alongside Long Day’s Journey into Night and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s. During this time, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee; and was married to Marilyn Monroe. (above excerpted from Wikipedia)

In 1999, St. Vincent & The Grenadines issued a 70-cent stamp honoring Arthur Miller (Scott No. 2726h) as part of a souvenir sheet entitled, “Year of the Elder Person”:

 

Arthur Miller - SC 2726h

Burns and Allen

October 12, 1950:  CBS broadcast the first episode of “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” which was a continuation of their vaudeville act that had been a hit on radio as well.  (from “This Day … In Jewish History”, M. Levin)

The duo met in 1922 and married in 1926. Burns was the straight man and Allen was a silly, addle-headed woman. The duo starred in a number of movies including Lambchops (1929), The Big Broadcast (1932) and two sequels in 1935 and 1936, and A Damsel in Distress (1937). Their 30-minute radio show debuted in September 1934 as The Adventures of Gracie, whose title changed to The Burns and Allen Show in 1936; the series ran, moving back and forth between NBC and CBS, until May 1950. After their radio show’s cancellation, Burns and Allen reemerged on television with a popular situation comedy, which ran from 1950 to 1958. (from Wikipedia)

In 2009, the U.S. Postal Service issued this stamp commemorating the television show:

Burns and Allen