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Larry Parks
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    (December 13, 1914-April 13, 1975)
    Born in Olathe, Kansas
    Birth name was Samuel Klausman Lawrence Parks
    Best known for portraying Al Jolson in ‘The Jolson Story’ (1946) and ‘Jolson Sings Again’ (1949)
    Also appeared in the films ‘Harvard, Here I Come!’ (1941), ‘Blondie Goes To College’ (1942), ‘Atlantic Convoy’ (1942), ‘Reveille with Beverly’ (1943), ‘The Deerslayer’ (1943), ‘She’s A Sweetheart’ (1944), ‘Down to Earth’ (1947), ‘Emergency Wedding’ (1950) and ‘Freud: The Secret Passion’ (1962)
    Married to actress Betty Garrett (1944-75)
    Godfather of actor Jeff Bridges
    In the two Jolson biopics, he lip-synched to Jolson’s recordings.
    In ‘Jolson Sings Again,’ in addition to portraying Jolson, he also portrayed himself auditioning for ‘The Jolson Story.’
    He joined the Communist Party.
    In an attempt to save his movie career, he identified other members of his cell to the House Un-American Activities Committee (1951).
    A Los Angeles newspaper announced his return from testifying with the headline, ‘Jolson Sings Again.’
    He was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for ‘The Jolson Story.’
    Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn, who ordered Parks to testify before HUAC, admitted, ‘That kid is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.’
    Before testifying, he pleaded, ‘Don’t present me with the choice of either being in contempt of this committee and going to jail or forcing me to really crawl through the mud to be an informer.’
    Despite naming names, he was blacklisted anyway, killing off his Hollywood career.
    After being forced out of the film industry, he formed a successful construction business and ended up owning several apartment buildings in the Los Angeles metro area.
    He and his wife also developed a musical-comedy act that they performed in Vegas and on summer stock tours.

Credit: C. Fishel

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