Actor Larry Parks

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on June 5, 2005

What happened to Larry Parks who played Al Jolson in The Jolson Story and Jolson Sings Again?
—Jerry R., Washington

Actor Larry Parks died of a heart attack in 1975 at age 60. The Olathe, Kan., native really did little acting besides those biographical movies. After attending the University of Illinois, he worked in various stock companies before changing careers. He was signed by Columbia Pictures in 1941 and was a great success in 1946's The Jolson Story, earning him an Oscar nomination. The 1949 sequel was his last major role as an actor, although he did co-star with Elizabeth Taylor in 1951 in Love Is Better Than Ever. In 1951, though, Parks was the first actor to admit that he had belonged to a Communist cell from 1941 to 1951, and although he was not officially blacklisted, he was dropped by Columbia and shunned by Hollywood. When he died in 1975, he was survived by Betty Garrett, his wife of 31 years, and their two children.