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

Alan Jay Lerner, 1918 – 1986

August 31, 1918: Birthdate of Alan Jay Lerner, American librettist and lyricist for stage and screen. Lerner was yet another of a myriad of Jews who created and refined that most original American art form – the Broadway musical. One of his most famous contributions was “My Fair Lady.” He passed away in 1986.  (from “This Day … In Jewish History” by Mitchell Levin)

Lerner and Loewe were the team of Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe (1901-1988), known primarily for the music and lyrics of some of Broadway’s most successful musical shows, including My Fair Lady, Camelot, and Brigadoon.  (Wikipedia)

In 1999, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 33-cent stamp commemorating Lerner and Loewe (Scott No. 3346):

Lerner & Loewe - USA-3346 1999

Wilhelm Steinitz, 1836 -1900

August 11, 1900: The Father of Modern Chess, Wilhelm Steinitz, passed away. Born in the Jewish Ghetto in Prague, in 1836, Steinitz began his professional career as a journalist. He won his first major chess tournament in Vienna in 1861. This marked the beginning of his domination of the game that would continue almost up to the time of his death.

Shown below is a stamp issued by Cuba in 1976 honoring Steinitz:

steinitzstamp

 

Imelda Marcos, 1929 –

July 2, 1929 – Birthdate of Imelda Marcos, widow of Ferdinand Marcos, the 10th president of the Philippines.

She served as First Lady from 1965 to 1986 during the presidency of her husband. She remains one of the richest politicians in the Philippines through her collection of clothing, artwork, and jewelry, along with money in offshore bank accounts under the pseudonym “Jane Ryan”. As a result, she has been called a kleptocrat by her critics who accuse her of plunder. (Wikipedia)

Pictured here today is a stamp showing Imelda, issued by the Philippines on June 12, 1966, as part of a set of 3 stamps (#950-52) commemorating the presidential inauguration of Ferdinand Marcos on December 30, 1965.

President Marcos and Imelda - Phil

 

Joseph Joachim, 1831 – 1907

June 28, 1831– Birthdate of Joseph Joachim, Austrian violinist, composer, and conductor.

Joachim was from Hungarian Jewish family.  He was a close collaborator of Johannes Brahms and is widely regarded as one of the most significant violinists of the 19th century.

Among the most notable of Joachim’s achievements were his revival of Beethoven’s violin concerto, the revival of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, and of Beethoven’s late string quartets.

Joachim’s own compositions are less well known. He gave opus numbers to 14 compositions and composed about an equal number of pieces without opus numbers. Among his compositions are various works for the violin (including three concerti) and overtures to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Henry IV.  (from Wikipedia)

The West Berlin post office of West Germany issued a 30-pfennig stamp honoring Joachim in 1969 (Scott #9N280):

Adolph_von_Menzel_Joseph_Joachim

Cole Porter, 1891 – 1964

June 9, 1891 – Cole Porter is born in Peru, Indiana.  Porter was a composer and songwriter on Broadway and best known for his Tony Award-winning musical, “Kiss Me, Kate”.

Some of his well-loved hit songs include, “Night and Day”, “Begin the Beguine”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “Love for Sale” and “What Is This Thing Called Love?”.

In 1991, the United States issued a 29-cent stamp (Scott No. 2550) honoring Cole Porter:

Cole Porter SC2550

 

 

 

 

Frank Loesser’s “Guys & Dolls”

May 31, 1955: A revival of Frank Loesser’s “Guys & Dolls” opened today at the New York City Center starring Walter Matthau as Nathan Detroit.  (from “This Day … In Jewish History”, Mitchell A. Levin)

The music and lyrics for this musical were written by Frank Loesser and the book was written by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrow. It is based on “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure” – two short stories by Damon Runyon – and also borrows characters and plot elements from other Runyon stories – most notably “Pick the Winner”.

The premiere on Broadway was in 1950. It ran for 1200 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical has had several Broadway and London revivals, as well as a 1955 film adaptation starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine. (from Wikipedia)

In 1999, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 33-cent stamp honoring Frank Loesser as part of its Legends of American Music series (Scott No. 3350):

Frank Loesser - SC3350

Bob Dylan – May 24, 1941

Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan is one of the most influential American singer-songwriters.  A key player in the 1960s folk revival, he wrote political and poetic songs that challenged the establishment and became anthems to the anti-war movement.  Among his biggest hits were “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.  He delayed acceptance of the latter award until March 2017 – about 3 months after the formal awards ceremony.  (mostly from a calendar page printed by Universe Publishing)

Here’s a souvenir sheet honoring Dylan on the occasion of his Nobel Prize award.  It was issued by the tropical nation of Maldives on December 28, 2016:

 

Bob Dylan - Maldives 2016-12-28