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Just watched Always Leave Them Laughing on TCM with Milton Berle starring in the role of a comic who finally makes it by clawing his way to the top. On the way, he plays some pretty sketchy joints and launches into a really awful Jolson impression. Many on this site probably know this scene, but it was new to me. I like Uncle Miltie, but this is the kind of scene that wasn't a great help to the Jolson legacy. The movie came out in 1949. I wonder what Jolie thought of it. I know he didn't have high regard for M. Berle.
Oh that was really awful. I don’t think Milton Berle was very well known over here in the U.K. I certainly knew nothing about him until I got interested in Jolson. Same with George Jessel, he wasn’t that well known over here. I think it was probably the same the other way round with British comedians of that time not being very well known in America.
And yet, Jolson's appearance on the Milton Berle show may be one of my favorite radio shows. You can see an excerpt on the Video Podcast page.
No one in America ever heard of Morecomb and Wise. I think they appeared sporadically on the Ed Sullivan Show. I discovered them when I saw a clip of the comedy duo with The Beatles.
I don't think that humour travels well. I well remember Jack Benny appearing on television over in England but not Milton Berle or George Jessel. I have some American friends who just cannot understand the British comedians of the past. They sit stoney faced when I've shown them comedians such as Max Wall, Tommy Handley, Bud Flanagan, Old Mother Riley etc, and yet these were well loved comedians in England. Same thing the other way with George Jessel and Milton Berle, their humour just didn't do much over in Briton.