In 1999, Original Cast recordings released Pals, a patchwork tribute to Eddie Cantor and Georgie Jessel in the form of a reissue of The Legend of Eddie Cantor (an album that contained passages from his historic Carnegie Hall Concert) and excerpts from the '50s television programs George Burns in the Big Time and The George Jessel Show, with a guest appearance by Dinah Shore. Eddie Cantor and Georgie Jessel first worked together while touring the Orpheum theater circuit during the years 1912-1914 with the Kid Kabaret, a vaudeville revue run by Gus Edwards, remembered today as composer of old-time melodies like "School Days," "In My Merry Oldsmobile," and "By the Light of the Silvery Moon." Cantor was older and more disciplined than Jessel, a sexually precocious youngster with an insatiable appetite for gin and cigars. Whereas Cantor conserved his money and played up just the right amount of naughtiness, Jessel was a notorious spendthrift with a knack for telling dirty jokes. Jessel starred in the 1925 stage production of The Jazz Singer but turned down the role in the motion picture version claiming that he was worth more than what was being offered by the Warner Brothers. After Jolson starred in the movie, Jessel became relatively marginalized in the industry, even while Cantor grew every bit as famous as Jolson. Cantor and Jessel did appear at the Palace Theater together in 1931 with Ben Meroff's orchestra, vocalist Janet Reade, and the comedy duo George Burns and Gracie Allen, who greatly benefited from the exposure. Cantor and Jessel, who came up in the heyday of vaudeville during which they performed together in blackface, generally put on a show consisting of perpetual putdowns and artful insults. Legend has it that during their appearance at the Palace, Cantor brought down the house by swatting Jessel over the head with his shoe. Had Jessel been heard on any of Cantor's studio-produced phonograph recordings, he would have been more consistently represented on Pals, which feels like a Cantor sampler strongly laced with tincture of Jessel. What the producers have cobbled together for this dual salute is a merry collage of nostalgic airs and medleys, comedic banter, and variations on the theme of "I remember when."
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