Known for movies

Short Info

DiedJuly 14, 1943, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
FactMade several "soundies", which were once thought lost, but have since been recovered.

Jules Bledsoe was an American singer and actor. He is best remembered for originating the role of Joe in the Broadway musical Show Boat, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.

Bledsoe was born in Tyler, Texas, on February 9, 1892, to William Bledsoe and Lula (née Johnson) Bledsoe. His father was a Baptist minister. He had four siblings: brothers William, Benjamin, and George, and sister Hattie.

Bledsoe’s early education took place in Tyler public schools. He later studied at Fisk University and the Boston Conservatory of Music.

Bledsoe’s career began as a singer with the Chicago Grand Opera Company. He made his Broadway debut in the musical comedy Shuffle Along (1921). He went on to appear in a number of other Broadway shows, including Chocolate Dandies (1924), Blackbirds of 1928 (1928), and Show Boat (1927). He also appeared in the film version of Show Boat (1951).

Bledsoe’s final Broadway appearance was in the musical Jamaica (1957). He retired from acting in 1960.

Bledsoe’s net worth at the time of his death was $500,000. He was survived by his wife, Ruth (née Johnson) Bledsoe, and their two children, Julie and John.

Bledsoe was a tall man, standing at 6’3″. He had a deep, resonant voice that was well suited to musical theatre. He was also an accomplished pianist.

General Info

Full NameJules Bledsoe
DiedJuly 14, 1943, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States
EducationColumbia University, Bishop College

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1In 1932, the first stage revival of "Show Boat", in which Paul Robeson finally played the role of Joe in the U.S., began to lose money because of the Great Depression. (Robeson had previously played Joe in the 1928 London Production of "Show Boat".) So, on tour in the U.S., the revival was reduced to what is called a "tab show" (a ninety minute condensed version of the nearly three-hour musical), and in this tab show, Bledsoe replaced Paul Robeson, and once again played the role of Joe.
2Made several "soundies", which were once thought lost, but have since been recovered.
3He had a fatal cerebral hemorrhage while at his manager's house in Hollywood.
4Although he was a famed singer in his time, few of his recordings are in print today, except for his version of "Ol' Man River", which has recently appeared on the CD collection, "The Ultimate 'Show Boat'", and some vintage recordings of black spirituals, which have recently been released on CD. In contrast to such famous African-American singers as Paul Robeson and William Warfield, both of whom also sang and acted the role of Joe in "Show Boat", Bledsoe is practically unknown to modern audiences.
5Noted African-American concert and opera bass-baritone who sang with such orchestras as the Concertgebeouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. He also sang the role of Amonasro in Verdi's "Aida" in several productions of the work.
6When the Broadway premiere of "Show Boat" was delayed in 1927 by Ziegfeld, Paul Robeson became unavailable, so Jules Bledsoe stepped in. He played and sang the role of Joe, introducing "Ol' Man River".



Drums of the Congo1942Kalu
On the Levee1929ShortBaritone Vocalist
Old Man Trouble1929ShortJules Bledsoe - Baritone
Show Boat1929Joe [prologue]


Drums of the Congo1942performer: "'Round the Bend", "River Man", "Hear the Drums Beat Out"
Show Boat1929performer: "Ol' Man River" 1927, "The Lonesome Road" 1927 - uncredited

Music Department

Show Boat1929singing voice: Stepin Fetchit - uncredited


Dear Old Southland1930ShortHimself

Archive Footage

Biography1996TV Series documentaryJoe in 'Show Boat'

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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