|It is interesting to know that Al
was paying his own expenses.
Sixty-five years of age, with one lung almost entirely cut away, Al
was attempting a task that proved too great for his own strength. In
sixteen days he gave forty-four shows. He and his accompanist
traveled in a helicopter to different sections of the war front.
When he returned to Hollywood, the
newspapers reported that he was in splendid health. A few of those
close to him knew that he was not.
The first time I met Al after his
return, I looked at him with astonishment.
'Al,' I said, 'you will have to
take better care of yourself. Remember what you said to me about
Lillian (Harry's wife)? Now I say the same thing to you. Stop
worrying. Stop working. Stop thinking. Relax! You have a home, you
know, and I believe you will enjoy staying in it if you give it a
I was half joking and half serious,
for I could see that Al was not as well as when he departed for
Korea. He was not joking when he answered.
'There's a little business I must
attend to. Then I'm taking your advice. I had a hard time, and I
don't feel so hot. Thanks, Harry, for the way you have handled
things for me.'
That was the last time that I saw
my brother. He dashed to San Francisco to appear on the radio with
Bing Crosby. He was in the hotel playing cards with friends when he
complained of a pain in the chest.
Knowing Al's heart condition they
called a specialist. Al tried to pass the whole thing off as a joke,
but the grim reaper was in no mood for joking.
Al talked of his trip to Korea.
'Do you know Doc,' he said with a
faint smile, 'that President Truman had only one hour with General
MacArthur? Well, let me tell you something. I had two!'
A few minutes later the word flamed
out on the wires to nearly every part of the globe.
Al Jolson was dead!
The news reached me quickly, and I
was asked for a statement. What could I say? What can anyone say at
such a time?"