Thursday, July 29, 2010

Worth 1,000 Words: SCOTTY BECKETT as JOLSON, the boy

SCOTTY BECKETT, portraying the young AL JOLSON in THE JOLSON STORY [1946], whistles from his bedroom window to his neighbor. Soon a ladder will afford escape to run away from home and start his show business career.
The Columbia Pictures' caption on the reverse of this seldom seen still states: "...BOY AL JOLSON-The boy Al Jolson, played by Scotty Beckett, is a shown whistling to his girl in Columbia's Technicolor music drama, THE JOLSON STORY. The adult Jolson is played by Larry Parks." [from Steve Crum's showbiz memorabilia collection]

The whistling was actually provided by Jolson himself, who was a noted whistler in addition to his comedy, singing, dancing, and acting talents. Throughout the film's boyhood sequences, however, it was RUDY WISSLER (no whistling pun intended) who provided the actual singing as Scotty Beckett lip synched. In the same vein, Jolson himself sang for the adult, Larry Parks, Jolson. Parks moved his lips perfectly to Jolie's songs.
Scotty Beckett, born Scott Hastings Beckett (Oct. 4, 1929-May 10, 1968), began his brief career as one of Hal Roach's Our Gang (aka Little Rascals), often playing opposite Spanky McFarland. Career highlights include featured roles in King's Row, The Charge of the Light Brigade, A Date with Judy, radio's The Life of Riley (as Junior), and TV's Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. His role as the young Asa Yoelson aka Al Jolson in The Jolson Story was his crowning achievement.

Tragically, the last decade of Beckett's life was filled with drugs, alcohol, arrests, marital problems, and illness. He died in a nursing home at age 38.

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