American Vaudeville Museum

All material © 1998-2010 American Museum of Vaudeville, Inc.  Page 6

George Jessel

1898 — 1981

He was vaudevillian to the bone, but George Jessel spent much of his career trying to expand his horizons. He began as part of a troupe of boy singers, that included Walter Winchell, and then became a featured performer in Gus Edwards’ kiddie revues. George matured into a stand-up comedian and actor, and his greatest role was that of The Jazz Singer, a role he created for Broadway but Al Jolson played in the film.

Jessel became a Hollywood and Broadway producer, he authored several books that were examples of graceful writing and became known as the Toastmaster General of the United States, an informal title that he may have taken more seriously than most. Jessel’s life was exciting, especially off the stage, where he allowed himself to be consumed in a series of romances. As he got older, they got younger, and Jessel the great vaudevillian was obscured by the old entertainer who made news for the young women he courted and the radical right wing politics he espoused.