Out for a lovely drive on a beautiful Saturday afternoon drive in fall, my wife and I harmonized and sang the song “Rosie, You Are My Posie.” I’m willing to bet that most people these days have never heard this wonderful tune and its rich history.
For me, enjoying the song began in the early 1950s with the film “The Jolson Story.” “The Jolson Story” was produced in 1946, so I must have seen it on a second run after the Jolson’s death in 1950.
The Jolson Story is available via imdb – You can rent or buy on Prime. Larry Parks played the part of Al Jolson on both “The Jolson Story” and “Jolson Sings Again” and both can be seen on Youtube.
Al Jolson is a name we just don’t hear any more, nor enjoy his music. The problem is “blackface” in minstrel shows. Blackface generally meant a white performer wearing black make-up to appear as a black person. Minstrel shows were groups of entertainers singing and dancing and often wearing blackface. Although Jolson was known for wearing blackface, it was just one of his attributes. He had a great voice and an easy-going nature on stage. Audiences loved him on Broadway and elsewhere.
”Minstrel shows were initially performed by white men and women.” They wore sooty colored makeup with white circles around their eyes and had big white lips. The comic dialogue and ignorant language were demeaning to black people and caricatured what whites thought black people talked and sang like. “They began in the 1830’s and became famous in the U.S. from 1840-1880. There were many different minstrel troupes that performed around the country. The Christy Minstrels were one of the most successful minstrel troupes; they performed on Broadway for almost 10 years.”
Before the Civil War, black men were prohibited from performing in minstrel shows. But when it ended, African Americans formed their own minstrel troupes. Minstrel shows were the only type of theatrical performance that they could do to support themselves artistically. There were also a few larger companies that employed both black and white performers.” – study.com/academy/lesson/minstrel-show-definition-history.html
The song Rosie, You Are My Posie, was written by John Stromberg (1853-1902), American songwriter, composer, and conductor, born in Canada of Swedish descent. The lyrics were written by Edgar Smith. The song was popular for Al Jolson and was the theme song of the Rosemary Clooney TV show in the early 1950s, and was also used in an Abbot and Costello comedy.
My mother and father came from Nevada, Missouri. I only found out in the last couple of years that my father and my mother’s brother James drove to Kansas City. My Dad was studying to get his Business Degree and Uncle James was working in Kansas City during the week. They drove home then to Nevada for the weekend. As they drove home the two of them would sing the latest hit tunes and other classics. In addition, my father would often whistle instead of singing. In the film “The Jolson Story” we see a young Al Jolson performing on stage and then when his voice changes, he switches to whistling. In The Jolson Story a performer is drunk and can’t even get all his blackface makeup on. Al Jolson (played by Larry Parks) uses the blackface make up and appears on stage in place of the inebriated performer. He sings and dances a bit.
The crowd loves him and the two powerhouse producers in the audience take notice. The song he performs is “Rosie, You Are My Posie.”
Rosie, you are my posie,
you are my hearts bouquet
Come out here in the moonlight,
There’s something sweet, love,
I wanna say.
Your honey boy is waiting
Those ruby lips to greet.
Don’t be so aggravating,
My blushing Rosie,
My posie sweet.
I sang the song to my Peg some time ago, and it’s just a nice tidbit of enjoyment and closeness. Music has always been important to us. Except for our very first apartment, we have always had a piano. Often, I’ll play and Peg and I will sing together – a favorite pastime.
Here is a clip on Youtube of the scene featuring William Demarest – youtube.com/watch?v=PA1bqhcHVAo
Here are just three comments:
1. babyfacemichael: That one song cost me a whole heap of money. If I had never heard that song, I would never have been captivated by the Jolson sound and gone on to spend all of my hard-earned cash on the greatest entertainer that ever lived!
2. CarlDuke: I came into the room where my father was watching this movie when I was about 10. I first saw Larry Parks as Jolson at about the 3:40 mark on this clip and became a fan for life.
3. Deborah Dushane: Heeheehee, I was about 5 years old and I can still sing the song.
Here is Al Jolson Ma Blushin Rosie with Bing Crosby – youtube.com/watch?v=LfoJTXhp9hc
Here are three more comments:
1. John Galvin: First saw The Jolson Story as a shy young boy…came away with the one gift only Al could give me…the greatest gift of all…Confidence…….
2. Ronnie’s Favorites: My favorite Jolson song
3. Tabby Abby: I never knew this song was written by a musician until I accidentally came across it just now. My Gido sang some of the lyrics to me when I was little. I just assumed he made it up lol. I’m so surprised it’s not something he made up.
We hope you enjoyed the article and were not offended by some of the references.