Jolson, Al. (1886-1950) [Vandamm, Florence. (1883-1966)]
Original Vandamm Photograph in the stage play "Big Boy" - INSCRIBED "A Happy New Year "
Original 6.25 x 8.25 inch photograph of Jolson in full blackface in the 1925 stage play "Big Boy," as captured by the important Broadway photographer Florence Vandamm. Raised stamp of the photographer l.l. "Florence Vandamm," her stamp also on the verso with handwritten "Vanity Fair." Inscribed and signed secretarially on the mount in ink "A Happy New Year / Al Jolson." Affixed to mount at upper edges, otherwise in very fine condition.
A Lithuanian Jewish immigrant who came to New York as a child, Jolson is best known today for his appearance in one of the first "talkies," The Jazz Singer, the first feature film with sound to enjoy wide commercial success, in 1927. Performing the song "Mammy" in blackface, Jolson ad-libbed his signature catchphrase, "You ain't heard nothing yet!" Along with being one of the supreme performers of the vaudeville stage, Jolson was also the first musical artist to sell over 10 million records. Although Jolson's legacy has been controversial due to his use of stage blackface, his work is being re-appreciated for capturing the roots of minstrelsy shows and the classic popular songs of his era. The practice of blackface in the U.S. steadily declined after the 1930s, the Civil Rights movement and changing attitudes on race helping to relegate blackface to the dustbin of history.