Larry Parks – The Swordsman

Larry Parks had hit stardom in a very big way before this with ‘The Jolson Story’ a huge hit at the Box Office starring as the legendary Al Jolson

After ‘The Jolson Story’ Larry appeared in two swashbucklers for Columbia first this one and then quickly afterwards in ‘The Gallant Blade’ both faring very well at the Box Office

The Swordsman 1948 with Ellen Drew

ABOVE – Looks like a happy ending which I am pleased about

BELOW – Larry in the saddle

After these two films he went back and did ‘Jolson Sings Again’ another big hit financially. It has to be said that he was great as Al Jolson and the way he mimed to the songs was about as perfect as I have ever seen.

‘The Jolson Story’ and ‘Jolson Sings Again’ were close to being the biggest commercial successes of 1946 and 1949 respectively

Jolson Sings Again 1949

Larry Parks wed the love of his life, Betty Garrett, who he’d met at The Actors Studio and for him at least, it was love at first sight. They stayed married until Larry died of a heart attack in 1975.    Following the success of “Jolson” he went on to star in “The Gallant Blade” “Down to Earth” with Riat Hayworth, The Swordsman” with Ellen Drew and was voted 1947’s Bobby Soxers Man of the Year.

Then Larry and Betty put together a Song and Dance Variety Act to play The London Palladium after which the successfully toured England and Scotland to packed crowds.    
In 1949 Larry reprised his Jolson portrayal for the Hit sequel “Jolson Sings Again”, his performances reviving Al ‘s career and putting him back in the spotlight selling records to a whole new generation.   After this came “Emergency Wedding” with Barbara Hale, who had played the second ‘Mrs Jolson’, the first played by Evelyn Keyes.   

Larry then starred with Elizabeth Taylor in “Love is Better than Ever” (1952, which I think would have been better if it had been in Colour!)     Then with Betty they again took their Variety Act back to Europe and from there to Las Vegas playing at El Rancho  and The Desert Inn, at this time Larry was also Guesting on TV in ‘Dr Kildare’ and The Ford All Star Theatre. 

He went back to England in ’55 to make “Tiger By The Tail’ and then on returning to the USA, Larry took the Lead Touring in “Teahouse of The August Moon” for three years (when Marlon Brando was offered the part in the film, he went to watch Larry and visited him).

Following this he toured in “The Marriage Go Round, “Any Wednesday” “Bells are Ringing” “High Button Shoes”, “Plaza Suite” (which he loved and played again in 1970)”Cactus Flower” “The Tender Trap” some of these were with Betty Starring with him. he then did more TV  (Hitchcock, The Untouchables) and his last Film Role was in John Houston’s “Freud” with Montgomery Clift in 1962. He also continued playing Theatre with Betty and their two sons, Garrett and Andrew.

Above – A Scene from ‘The Swordsman’

ABOVE – The 750-seat Elgin Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, opened as a single screen theatre on November 15, 1937 with Leslie Howard in “Stand-In”. It was designed by architectural firm Kaplan & Sprachman. The Elgin Theatre added another auditorium on December 25, 1947 opening with Larry Parks in “The Swordsman”, making it one of North America’s earliest two-screen theatres.

Larry and Betty had put together a Song and Dance Variety Act and came to England with it and this must have been one of the venues

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