They Were Collaborators #488


Ruby Keeler and Al Jolson

16 comments:

Henry Bemis said...

HOLY HELL- Is he actually out in public in black face; or is it just a weird exposure?

estiv said...

No, that's blackface. But he may not be out in public. The building behind him is about the right size to be a film studio, and he could have stepped outside for a photo. Also, when he was in full costume he wore a wig and had his lips outlined in white--note that here those are both missing. So he might be taking a break while wearing only part of his professional get-up.

swac said...

"Al Jolson was the greatest entertainer that ever lived. I know because he told me so every day that we were married." ~Ruby Keeler

swac said...

I should add that this is likely around the time that the couple made their only co-starring film Go Into Your Dance (1939), and Jolson does appear in blackface in the film, although it's much more subdued than the exaggerated style of his earlier films.

Funny that when the marriage ended (not long after this film) so did Jolson's film career.

Brent McKee said...

"The building behind him is about the right size to be a film studio..."

Actually the "building" behind them appears to be an ocean liner.

swac said...

I thought it might be an ocean liner as well, but if you look at the out of focus figure in the background it seems like he's flush with the wall and there's no gap where a dock might be. On the other hand, it could just be the angle of the photo and so on, but it begs the question why Jolson would be wearing blackface at dockside.

I've also seen photos of him where he looks very tanned, but not that tanned.

Son said...

downey is doin it - history repeats,
nothin new under the...

estiv said...

brent mckee, you're right, and a film studio with a bunch of windows would be a mighty odd thing anyway.

J. Theakston said...

"HOLY HELL- Is he actually out in public in black face; or is it just a weird exposure?"

Actually, it would seem that the photo was taken on orthochromatic stock, and Jolie probably had a light tan that day, which was much more pronounced with this film.

Notice how Ruby Keeler's eyes seem white? It's a dead give-away they were using ortho film. Orthochromatic stock is sensitive to blue-green light only, so things that are blue register almost white, while things that are red, yellow and brown show up very dark.

swac said...

You can't argue with science.

Henry Bemis said...

Well , I disagree...you CAN argue with science. You won't win, but you will certainly gain MANY votes from the far right.

Tommy O'C said...

I heard once that Jolson continued wearing blackface in his act long after other performers had stopped.

But this is ridiculous.

Son said...

if you can't argue w/ science - explain vondoo

East Side said...

My father was of Russian heritage, like Jolson, and he tanned just like that.

East Side said...

My father was of Russian heritage, like Jolson, and he tanned just like that.

Royce Van Allen said...

No respecter of PC values was Jolson! If he wanted to walk around looking like a fake black guy, he damn well would and did.