Eddie Green and Baltimore, 2 Greats

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The two pictures posted here today have brought me much joy recently. The head and shoulders shot is my father Eddie Green with his Amateur Short-wave Radio Operator pin on his lapel, circa 1940, and the other is a still from a Warner Bros. 1929 Vitaphone film titled “Sending a Wire”. That’s Eddie as a customer trying to send a telegram. The headshot is located at the New York Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in the Eddie Green Photo Collection. I got the still from The Vitaphone Project where the employees are endeavoring to preserve old Warner Bros. films.

Eddie was born in Baltimore in 1891. So a few days ago I posted these photos on a Baltimore Old Photos website group. I have been blown away by the response I have received from Baltimore residents. As I type this I have received over 600 replies (likes, comments, reactions) and they are still coming in. Of course I have responded to each comment so I’ve been reluctant to leave my computer because I want to answer immediately. So far placing these photos in the Baltimore site had nothing to do with the biography I have written on my father. The people who are reacting to these pictures are simply people who love their city. They love their city history. Judging by the faces on their posts (I guess they are avatars) these are young people, middle age, older folks, and different ethnicities. To me this is a proud community.

I absolutely do not like to fly but it looks like I am going to have to visit my father’s birthplace. I would love to experience the atmosphere. There has got to be a lot of love in that city. I posted a blurb from my book that said Eddie Green was “a feather in the hat of East Baltimore” according to the local newspaper from 1925. Wait until they get the word that I have written a book about him. From the comments I have received Baltimoreans will be happy to learn more about one of theirs.

I am trying not to get too excited here because life is about ups and downs, but I am having so much fun. Since I started this blog however the process has been up all the way.  I’ve written my book, had it published, and gained followers and friends.  Because of my desire to see my father’s story brought back to the fore of people’s minds in order that they might see an example of reaching one’s goals no matter how many obstacles there are, and because Life has shown me that this is what is supposed to happen, I feel this path I am on is only going to bring me and others more happiness. How it will bring happiness to others is that people who visit my site can be encouraged to pursue their dreams and they will feel fulfilled in doing so.

I love this!

Thanx, for stopping by. And please KCB.

 

 

 

 

Fame, Friendship, and (Some) Fortune

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Hi. To those of you new to this blog, welcome. As this blog is meant to chronical my writing of a book about my father, I have to let you know that in the past 3 years I have written and published my book. You can of course read through prior posts to get an idea of the story, or you can start here. The picture I have posted is from the radio program that brought fame to my father Eddie Green.  Taken in the early 1940s  This is a shot from the radio program Duffy’s Tavern. The gentleman on the left is the creator and star of the show Ed Gardner (who is cast as Archie.) The gentleman on the right is my father, Eddie Green, who is cast opposite Ed as Eddie the waiter.

Duffy’s Tavern was one of the most popular radio programs during the years 1941-1950, after which time the program was switched to television. Eddie was a part of this show from the beginning until 1950 when he passed away. In 1941 when he was signed on to this program, Eddie had written a best selling song in 1917, plus twenty-nine more songs, he had performed on Broadway, owned Bar-b-que restaurants, appeared on television in the first ever RCA/NBC variety test broadcast to the public, worked with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Louis Armstrong and had written, directed, produced and starred in four all-Black cast movies. He was on the rode to fame.

In 1943 Eddie was fifty-one years old, and at the beginning of the year he filed for bankruptcy. He owed the government $445.00. Probably had something to do with the fact that Eddie had used his own money to start his Sepia Art Pictures movie company and  some of his actors had stared accepting roles with the White owned studios who could pay much more than Eddie. And I think a business deal went awry (meaning “a friend” absconded with some money.) You could still hear him on the weekly Duffy’s Tavern radio program and on other radio programs, too.

In 1945 the money started rolling in again when Paramount decided to make a movie version of Duffy’s Tavern using the regular radio crew in the movie. The movie was titled Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern, directed by Hal Walker, starring a number of Paramount stars such as, Bing Crosby, Alan Ladd, Dorothy Lamour, Barry Fitzgerald, Veronica Lake and William Bendix, to name a few. Oh, and also Ed Gardner, as Archie, Eddie Green, as Eddie the waiter, and Charles Cantor as Finnegan. The next few years saw Eddie’s continued rise to becoming a popular, beloved comedian.

By writing the biography of my father my hope was to bring his inspiring story out of the dark and into the light of awareness, as a way to provide propelling motivation to others. Eddie said that he found the best way to achieve success, is to find something you like to do and do it the best you know how.

One other thing, Eddie and Ed Gardner became very good friends over the years. Today a Green and a Gardner are still friends, me and Ed’s son. We’re pen pals!

Thanx, for stopping by. KCB

Photo courtesy of Martingramsblogspot and Ed Gardner, Jr.

 

 

Loved That Man!

I absolutely loved writing a book about my father’s (Eddie Green) life. As Eddie, the waiter, he became a household name from 1941-1950 in one of the longest running radio shows ever. When Ed Gardner (to the right of Eddie, talking with him) creator and star of Duffy’s Tavern and Paramount got together and made the movie Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern (1945) Eddie was considered perfect to  fill the waiter roll and Ed Gardner played his radio character, Archie.

I loved researching my father’s life, one because Eddie died in 1950 when I was very little, and also because once I started the process I discovered so much more than I expected which kept me looking. Now I am in the process of speaking at different venues about my book writing venture. Sharing with others bits of the book and how I gathered my information. I like talking with and meeting new people who share my interests and or who are simply looking for something new and fresh to enhance their lives. (Anybody got any info on groups I could speak for let me know).

But, now that I have finished writing the book, I miss the research aspect. I miss that feeling of delving into forgotten documents and discovering a treasure trove of information. I really miss it. This biography I have written has been well-received so maybe I will find another person who has accomplished much but has been lost to the shadows of time and write about them.

In the meantime, today I went on Google Advanced Search and found a photo of the cast of Paramount’s Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern(1945) movie. One of the actors in this movie was Barry Sullivan (he is to the left of Eddie).  I decided to do a little research on him. His filmography is really long over 100 movies. He died in Sherman Oaks near where I live now in 1994. (I wish I had known he was still alive then.) He was 6ft 3 in. tall and what I didn’t have to look up is that he was very good looking.

The movie that caused me to fall in love with Barry Sullivan was Pyro… The Thing Without a Face (1964). It was so good. Married man has an affair, tries to break it off. Mistress burns his house down and he is disfigured when he returns home unexpectedly, sees the fire and runs in to save his family. The mistress tries to disappear but he is determined to track her down, disfigured face and all. Great movie. I didn’t know in 1964 that my father had appeared in a movie with Barry Sullivan.

I am so impressed with my father today. And I am impressed with technology, too. When I started writing the book I think there was only one picture of Eddie on Google. Now there are new pictures every time I check. Those little spiders are crawling all over the net looking for pictures of Eddie Green. I know he would be impressed, too.

Thanks, for stopping by. KCB

Find my book at Amazon – Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.

 

Today’s Most Looked Up Word Is…

 

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Trying to write positive posts that are relevant to today’s interests has become a bit difficult for me. For inspiration, I turn to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary for the most looked up word of the week. Word #7 has been racism for a while now. Word #1 has been fascism for a couple of weeks. Word #9 empathy and Word #12 is love.

It makes me sad to see that the #1 word is fascism according to Webster’s. Why is that word so much on people’s minds as opposed to the word love? Uh, never mind, don’t answer that question. As for empathy, I have experienced this feeling this past week or so because a mom recently lost her 14 year old son during a heavy rainfall incident in California.  I am a mom and I can imagine how she must have felt. I think this world could use more empathy. As for the word racism, my opinion is that this word will continue to be among the top ten words people look up in the dictionary.

Racism is an old word. It exists where you might not think it exists. My father and my mother experienced this in the late 1890s through the 1950s. Eddie, born in 1891 in Baltimore, Maryland experienced racism from infancy as a Black person in America. One thing about it though, Eddie did not let the harsh treatment of Blacks hamper his rise to success. His career began as a boy magician, he became a filmmaker, a Broadway and movie star, an old time radio icon and a composer. He remained courteous and he was known as a gentleman. He was proud of who he was as a man and he became one of the most beloved comedians of his time until his death in 1950.

My mother’s experiences were different. My grandmother was a very light skinned Black woman who chose to pass herself off as White. Spanish to be exact. My grandfather was Italian. My mother lived most of her life unsure about her heritage. She too was very light skinned. As an adult she chose to identify as Black. Unfortunately, sometimes in order to get a job my mother would apply as White and then would lose the job when it was discovered she was actually Black. Through the years after mom married a second time, her sister-in-law (a Black woman) who sold real estate would take mom with her to meet clients hoping the clients would see mom as White and would therefore be more interested in purchasing the property that was for sale.  In later life mom told everyone who asked that she was a gypsy.

Within my own family racism existed. When my father Eddie would come to my grandmother’s house in Pasadena, California to visit my mother, Norma, my grandmother would make Eddie come in through the back door, because of course anybody could see that Eddie was Black. As you can see from the picture above this did not stop Eddie’s progress. He married my mother during the latter half of 1945. By then he had become a household name and mom reaped the benefits as you can see by her ensemble. Love carried the day. Of course, in those days the places one could go as a seemingly interracial couple were limited. But they were happy.

Eddie died in 1950. We were living in Puerto Rico. We returned to the US on a ship called the SS Puerto Rico. First class. In 2014 I was in a library and a gentleman who helped me locate the Passenger List of this ship was amazed that in 1949 our family sailed First Class on a ship. He was amazed because it was unusual to see Black people sailing First Class back in the day. It is still amazing people today. I do not call this racism, but a by-product of racism. A thought process stuck somewhere in the unconscious.

I guess if the word love was #1 it would seem that folks needed more information on what love is. Sometimes I think we do.

Thanks, for stopping by. KCB

 

Black Magician History Month

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I love researching topics for these posts. One of the ways I pick topics is to check the dictionary to see what words people are looking up currently. Through this process I get the experience of acquiring new knowledge. I have copied information here that I found “really” interesting and is a good fit for Black History Month.

I did a book reading at a local library this past Friday and while I was reading the first chapter of my book I was reminded that my father, Eddie Green, the subject of the book, had begun his entertainment career as a “Boy Magician.” Eddie left home at about age nine, taught himself to read, read books on magic and began performing around Baltimore in churches and halls. By the time he was sixteen he was hiring assistants and he performed his magic acts until he began appearing on stage at the Standard Theater in Philadelphia in 1917 and someone told him that his comedy act was so funny he should drop the magic part, which he did.

So I’m looking up words and I found the word “ruse” had been looked up quite a lot lately.  Hmmm. Ruse means a clever or artful skill, or artifice, i.e. trick. My personal opinion is that in these instances “ruse” was not looked up in regard to magic but I chose to use it that way because of this post.

I also found this article that states, “the methodology behind magic is often referred to as a science (often a branch of physics) while the performance aspect is more of an art form….Dedication to magic can teach confidence and creativity, as well as the work ethic associated with regular practice and the responsibility that comes with devotion to an art.  Hass, Larry & Burger, Eugene (November 2000). “The Theory and Art of Magic“. The Linking Ring. The International Brotherhood of Magicians. Magic is also a form of trickery, artifice or a ruse.

Eddie was very skillful in this art form. I believe magic is what helped Eddie hone his comedic presentation and also helped with his dedication to his career.

I decided to look up any other Black Magicians (cause I had never heard of any) and Lo and Behold I found a long list of men and one woman. I focused on this first guy Black Herman. So funny. He was born one year later than Eddie. And he was quite famous.

Black Herman was an African-American magician who combined magic with a strong separatist and militant political message, and became one of the most important Black magicians in history. His mission was to promote his view of Black power by attracting attention and support using stage magic, occult magic and superstition.
Born in Amherst, Virginia, Benjamin Rucker learned the art of illusions from a huckster named Prince Herman. The two ran a medicine show, performing magic tricks to attract customers for their “Secret African Remedy”, a tonic that was mostly alcohol with some common spices added for good measure. When Prince Herman died in 1909, Rucker, then only 17 years old, continued to travel with the show, focusing on the magic and dropping the medicine show.
Creating his own stage persona, Rucker took the name “Black Herman”, partially in honor of Prince Herman, and partly as an homage to Alonzo Moore, the famous African-American magician who was known as the “Black Herrmann”. (I never knew this.)

After 1910, Black Herman made Harlem, New York his home base. He was exposed to, and greatly influenced by, the radical racial philosophies of Marcus Garvey and others who were fighting to improve the lives of African Americans. He began to incorporate a political message into his shows, playing to all-Black audiences in the South, but to mixed crowds in the North, a very unusual and great achievement for his time.

Black Herman was an ethnic nationalist, a contemporary of activists Marcus Garvey and Booker T. Washington. Increasingly throughout his career, his shows promoted the message of Black pride. Garvey, Washington and Black Herman all offered talismans for sale to ward off racism. Benjamin Herman Rucker 1892-1934.

Thanks to  MagicTricks.com for providing this information.

Oh yea, one of the names on that list I found was, Eddie Green.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by. KCB

Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer, bearmanormedia.com

 

 

 

I didn’t think he’d go this far!

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My Grandson, Edward and my father. The idea to write my book came about through my desire to present to my grandson, Edward,  an example of what can be accomplished regardless of obstacles. I didn’t know he was gonna go this far!! The man has no fear. I turned on my computer, clicked on Facebook and here is a picture of Edward at an Alligator Park in Florida. What the!!. I am a grandmother so my first thought is What the!! Edward has lost his mind! My daughter’s reaction was that he is afraid of nothing. Like his great-grandfather.

Edward’s grandfather, Eddie Green despite being born in 1891 in Baltimore during an era of blatant racism to poverty-stricken parents,  rose to become a filmmaker, Broadway and movie star, composer, OTR icon and one of the most beloved comics of his time. Talent, determination and courage propelled Eddie to achieve the life he wanted for himself and those around him.

The idea of writing the biography of my father came to me when Edward was about six years old.  He is twenty-six now. Edward has told me that the story of Eddie is indeed inspiring to him now as an adult because he can identify with some portions of the story.  He also told me the fact that I wrote a book is very inspiring to him now, showing him that if a person sets their mind to do something, they can.

One thing I have noticed is that through the years it took for me to write this book, Edward developed into a person who has chosen to be successful in life. He has had the courage to pursue that which he is excited about. He is a good citizen. His job appreciates him. He cooks for his mother when she visits. He likes cats and treats his lady respectfully.  And he is not afraid to pick up alligators. He really did not need this book to become who he is today. It’s probably in the genes.

Maybe a young person you know would be inspired by this biography Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. Though it is written also for anyone looking for motivation.

Thanks, for stopping by. KCB

http://www.bearmanmedia.com (publisher)

 

 

 

Black History Month Grips Nation

 

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Eddie Green & Ed Gardner in Paramount’s Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern (1945)

From a 1950 article in the Chicago Defender newspaper regarding Eddie Green: “Radio was his forte. He became the lovable Eddie of Duffy’s Tavern and his quick answers to Ed “Archie” Gardner’s problems won him thousands of ardent fans”.

In honor of Black History Month I am promoting  my father as one of the pioneers of black history who so far has not gotten as much attention as say a Frederick Douglas, orator, writer and social reformer, or a William Grant Still, the first Black American composer to have an opera performed by the New York City Opera, though Eddie was a filmmaker, writer and director of his own movies and he was also a composer of twenty-nine songs, one being “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. And I am promoting him because in the early 1900s he had thousands of ardent fans. Eddie has earned his place in America’s Black History.

I am glad we have a Black History Month. When I worked for the VA I was glad when they celebrated Hispanic History because bands came out and played and people brought books about their culture and everyone had a good time. Any celebration is good as far as I am concerned. Everyone should celebrate who they are.

Now, truth be told, until this year I have never studied the origins of Black History Month. I would acknowledge Jackie Robinson and George Washington Carver (the only black person I remember reading about when I was about eight years old), and I know I am black and before you knew it the month was over. I have written a book now about my father and in doing the research on this book I found a new interest in Black history.

My father was thirty-five years old in 1926 when the precursor to Black History Month, Negro History Week, was started.  On February 7, 1926, Carter G. Woodson initiated the first National Negro Week. Every club, society, church or school was entitled to the Negro History Week pamphlet free of charge.

By 1935 the New York Age newspaper printed this headline Negro History Week Grips Nation “Negro History Week literature has been distributed in batches of thousands throughout the country, and it may still be obtained from Dr. C. G. Woodson.” This idea was hot!! Fast forward to 1976 and as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. Forward to now, where is the Black History Month Grips Nation headline? So I wrote it.

I know that Eddie would want me to celebrate Black History Month because here in America we have added the history of a Black President to what was once celebrated as Negro History Week.

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

http://www.bearmanormedi.com (Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer)

 

 

I will not be a “Droopy” Dog

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Okay, I’ve had enough. I am tired of reading words such as divisive, feud, and slur when reading about current political events. I do not want to buy into the idea that I should now be fearful of the future of my country or the world for that matter.

I will not look forward to “Doomsday.” I will not live my life by a “Doomsday Clock.” And the Doomsday Clock is trending on Facebook. A New York Times op-ed piece stated the members of the Chicago based bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have moved the Doomsday clock closer to midnight than ever before. They site nuclear weapons, climate change and certain statements of a single person. (Guess who.) We, people, got the idea for this clock back in 1947. A symbolic clock face representing a countdown to disaster. When I opened a page on Facebook I saw an atomic bomb mushroom cloud. What the?

I know there is doom and gloom upon the land, but that does not mean I must give up all hope. Maybe I get this outlook from my father. Who, after living through the dropping of the Atom Bomb decided to make a movie about it from his own frame of mind. Eddie liked to see people laugh. So in 1949 he decided to write, produce, direct and star in a movie that depicts a Black family’s reaction post-bomb but with humor and entertainment thrown in.

The movie begins with the husband and the maid dancing to the latest jive record that they intend to play that evening for the daughter’s coming-out party. Mom comes out and after making hubby sit down they start to discuss their upstairs boarder’s comings and goings. They have a suspicion he is building a bomb because he sneaks in and out and keeps to himself. So they invite a detective (Eddie) to their party that night and ask him to check out Uncle Adam. There is a comedy skit and a chorus line at the party and Margaret Westfield sings a song Eddie wrote titled “You Can Always Believe Your Heart” while the detective investigates Mr. Adam’s room. In the end everything turns out hunky-dorey with a kind of sappy closing shot of Eddie

Most recently in 2008 I found this review of the song Eddie wrote “The audience  is asked to get excited about the daughter singing a boring romantic ballad that could easily have come out of a white sing-along movie of the time (1949.” Well!! I also found another review that contained these words “the avuncular old man (played by the only person in this movie who can actually act!)” Well!!! This same person said the main plot was for people to hear the daughter sing the song. Wrong!

Eddie’s original title for this movie was Mr. Atom’s Bomb. He had to copyright it as Mr. Adam’s Bomb. But he, like so many other people, was deeply affected by past events of the war and being an artist and a comedian he made this movie in reference to how Black people were feeling about the use of the atom bomb and as a way to stay positive. Even “Uncle Sam” gets a positive mention. The movie also starred Gene Ware and Jessica Grayson, both veteran actors. Ms. Grayson also appeared in a Bette Davis movie, The Little Foxes. I think Eddie used up all of his money making this last movie.

I am trying to figure out a way to stay positive today. I am planning to find some way to contribute to a more positive community outlook. Yesterday I went to the VA hospital where I used to work and I visited Bldg. 99 where the older veterans live. There was live music in the hall. The veterans are wheeled out or escorted and lunch is served while the musicians play. I actually saw a couple of familiar faces. So between the hugs and the smiles and conversations with the veteran’s and the music “Honeysuckle Rose”, by Fats Waller, and marching music, I felt pretty good when I left.

When I was little my favorite cartoon character was “Droopy”. He always walked around saying “Woe is me, woe is me”. I though he was funny. But I don’t want to be him.

Thanks, for stopping by. KCB

 

 

 

 

Labor of Love

whyThis past week a political figure’s book sold out in 2 days on Amazon after he received an uncomplimentary response to an opinion that he voiced.  I wonder why? Did the book sell out because of controversy? Is that what people want? Of course, my bright brain then thought “hm, how could that work for me? Could I find someone of note to mention me in a bad light on the internet? Of course, they would have to mention the name of the book I authored, then people would rush to buy my book, to see if I really am as bad as that person said!”  Then I laughed out loud. I don’t want controversy to sell my inspiring, delightful biography about my legendary radio icon, filmmaker, comedian father, Eddie Green.

However, truth be told, I was a bit upset. People seem to be drawn to drama. And the aura surrounding the writing and publishing of this book has no negative drama. There is no negative drama in my life. Will my book sell well with no drama attached to it?

Drama could have been created back in the day when Mary O’Neil of the Knickerbocker News printed her opinion in 1937, she said:  “What that Eddie Green is doing in radio, I don’t know. I still can’t see his type of comedy. But as I said before Vallee can’t have a success every single time.” Rudy Vallee was Eddie’s mentor. (For you younger folks, Vallee was a radio and movie star who helped Eddie get noticed.) I don’t think everyone rushed eagerly to their radios that day to listen to Eddie Green, and see if they could tell just what kind of man Eddie was, but I do know that he eventually became one of the most popular and best loved comedians of his time through talent and determination. No drama necessary.

According to Mr. Frank of the Associated Negro Press Eddie had become very popular through his talent: “This brings up the subject of Eddie Green, the fine comedian who appears occasionally on the Rudy Vallee hour. Eddie, who specializes in burlesques of famous plays and men of history, is one of the few people of color ever to win such radio recognition as a comic.”

Today I looked up Mary O’Reily and I found a very interesting geneology site with information on her family from the 1700s to 2012. At the end of the article they stated that this information was a memorial to their ancestor’s sacrifices and hard work that got them to a nation where they could achieve and accomplish anything. I have warmed up to Mary O’Reily. She was a female journalist in 1937 doing her job. She said what she felt and she was glad to have her job.

My intent when writing this book was to inspire and possibly provide a pin prick of motivation to that person who feels the odds are against them. To be helpful in some way. Have someone say “yea, I could do that!” My focus was to be positive and upbeat. I don’t want controversy to spur sales of my book. This book writing venture has been smoother than smooth because it was supposed to happen. And I know my book will reach the people it is supposed to reach. Btw, the title of the book is Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer, for those of you new to this blog and Thank You for those of you who have purchased the book. You are all a part of my Labor of Love.

As always, thanks, for stopping by.