RUDY WISSLER, THE YOUNG JOLSON

 

Hollywood biopics were never very accurate and you have to accept them for what they were – fictionalised biographies .

I had never in the past bothered to find out who sang for Scotty Beckett who played the young Jolson in THE JOLSON STORY,  but I always remember that beautiful tenor voice singing ‘After the Ball’, ‘On the Banks of the Wabash’ and ‘When you were Sweet 16’.

 

Scotty Beckett

 

Scotty Beckett’s voice was provided by RUDY WISSLER who was a teenager when he was hired to dub for Beckett.

Rudy Wissler

Young Rudy didn’t even get a credit in the film, but dubbing was a Hollywood secret back then – though the public knew LARRY PARKS wasn’t singing.

It was amazing to see , courtesy of You  Tube, Rudy  Wissler reprising ‘On the banks of the Wabash’ at  a  meeting of the International Al Jolson Society in 1999 – and still with that beautiful voice.

Rudy commented: “We did a number of takes of each song.” Rudy worked on the film for 5 weeks in 1945 and made the recordings with Saul Chaplin on piano- the orchestra was dubbed in later.

Rudy was a regular on radio’s  Edgar Bergen Charlie McCarthy show, singing with the Ray Noble orchestra . He made a few more films but his career was mainly on radio,  in nightclubs and in stage musicals.

In the 1960s and 70s, he was part of a barbershop quartet called the Pacificaires.

(info from Jolson.org)

RUDY WISSLER (1928 – 2007)

 

Scotty Beckett (1929 – 1968) had been in movies from the age of 4, but couldn’t find work in Hollywood by the end of the 1950s. He had brushes with the law, was married three times and died of a possible drugs overdose at the age of 38.  So sad.

Like Larry Parks, young Scotty  did a great job of miming.

Evelyn Keyes

Evelyn Keyes was also dubbed, by Virginia  Rees.

 

Larry Parks

Surely Larry Parks’s greatest role. Larry’s career never really took off after his remarkable performance as Jolson. And the Blacklist ended his film career.

I love Jolson’s voice and the songs he sang, but , 70 years on, the Jolson blackface is hard to watch.

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