Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Born Today June 5: Richard J. Jose


Often listed as an "American countertenor," Richard J. Jose was in fact a British operatic singer born in Lanner, Cornwall (his name rhymes with "rose" and was originally "Joce"--which is a traditional Cornish name [reminder: Cornwall is a Celtic enclave of England--it is as Celtic as Wales]).  He apparently followed an uncle to the U.S., settling in Nevada and singing in saloons. He eventually joined minstrel shows which wound up taking him to California. By this time (the 1890's) he was becoming a well known operatic singer in the U.S. and made a number of recordings via the new technology of phonograph cylinders. By the turn of the century he was an early signee of the music company Victor.  His version of "Silver Threads Among the Gold" was a big hit for him and the company.  It was this song that led to his only appearance in a film, which came in 1915. The film was titled the same as the song and was a curiosity to say the least.  The poster boasted the gimmick of the film's promotion, "Richard J. Jose (Appears In Person)."  Jose actually toured with the film, singing the song in the appropriate places during the film's screening; Jose also starred as Martin in the film itself (IMDb link, and the film should not be confused with the 1911 film of the same name produced by the Edison Co & directed by their man Porter). The film was the brain child of the K & R Film Company--a one off sort of affair.  Unfortunately the film is lost; it's one of those great loses in the film world from the silent era--not because the film would likely be some long lost masterpiece, but because it was so oddly unique.  This is Jose's only film appearance; he soon retired completely from the entertainment industry and settled permanently in California.  There he embarked on a second career as California Deputy Real Estate Commissioner.  Jose died in San Francisco at the age of 79 on 20 October 1941.  He is buried in the Olivet Memorial Park (then Mount Olivet Cemetery) in Colma, Ca--just outside of CA. 

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