Jewish-American Idol

From an era when not only did a writer have a reasonable shot at making money off a short story—if he or she really wanted to make the big bucks, he adapted it for the stage: the epigraph to the short story “The Day of Atonement,” by Sampson Raphaelson:

So Sound and Dramatic Is this Tale That a Manager Plans to Make a Play of It. The Author Confesses That He Isn’t the Idol of Millions of Readers Now, but We Predict That He Will Make Friends Fast

Raphaelson did write a play based on his story, also called The Day of Atonement. The play then evolved into the screenplay for The Jazz Singer (1927, Al Jolson)—and, I’m assuming, served as the template for the screenplays of all subsequent versions (1952, Danny Thomas; 1980, Neil Diamond—and maybe even the 1959 version Jerry Lewis did for television that’s mentioned on Wikipedia?—that’s the only one Emily and I haven’t seen).

The story “The Day of Atonement” and its epigraph are reproduced in the appendices of the screenplay of the original 1927 Jazz Singer (p. 147), published in 1979 (a year before the Neil Diamond version was released).

A footnote on the first page of the story reads: “Everybody’s Magazine, January 1922 […] Raphaelson changed the spelling of his given name from Sampson to Samson when The Jazz Singer was produced.”