Greetings! In 2014 I started this blog to write about my first book writing journey. The book was a biography of my father, Eddie Green. He died when I was 3 so I had to wander through libraries and museums and old newspaper archives because he was an Entertainer and mom, 30 years his junior, had not told me much about his history. I discovered much. I kept finding new stuff. I researched the book for over ten years. In 2010 when mom died, I put my whole self into the research. I wrote the book. It published in 2016. I won an award. Five years later I am still finding out new things about my father.
These past five years I have been interviewed on radio programs about the book my father, I’ve been interviewed about myself and my writing journey and about my father, on podcasts and I have had articles written about me and my book. I never even considered this might happen. I am now working on a 2nd and 3rd book. Because of the book about my father.
About a week ago an interviewer asked me a question I had not anticipated. Today I realized the answer was readily available in the book. I also realized that interest in Eddie’s life story will continue, even as I go on to other stories, so I had better continue to keep a focus on that which got me to where I am today. (Which reminds me: I need to add a “buy” button like I have on my FB book page.)
The interviewer’s question was, what I thought Eddie might say about Black progress in the Entertainment or filmmaking business today. We were discussing movies but I immediately thought of an article in which Eddie was talking about Blacks getting into television: Eddie Green’s Firm Aids Show Business Through Television: “The fast growing field of television offers a fertile one for Negro performers.” “Colored performers have their niche in the television picture and they should demand that their agents establish contacts with those that handle the shows in order not to be left out in the cold when the infant industry attains maturity.” Eddie pointed out that “the decline of vaudeville witnessed many good Negro acts going out of business and little hope for the birth of new talent was anticipated until television offered vast potentialities.” This was in 1947.
Eddie was very much aware of the difficulty of Black people getting into the various forms of entertainment. Eddie was quoted as saying, also in 1947, “Radio for Negroes is a very hard field to get into…very hard! But the returns are so great that it’s worth the try.”
Eddie died 3 years later. He had been contacting television producers to sell them ideas for commercials. I did not have to think too hard on what Eddie might think about the progress Blacks have made today. If Eddie could appear in 2021 I think he would be displeased with the progress in the Entertainment field. If only because of the fact that he, a Black man born in 1891 into absolute poverty was able to rise to the top of his profession through his determination, his talent and his hard work.
Today Eddie is an old time radio Icon. At the time of his death he owned his 3rd movie studio and was making TV spots. Using his own money. His movies used Black actors only. He directed, starred in, produced and wrote his own movies. Yes, he was broke when he died. I’m sure he used the money he made on his radio program, and the movies he appeared in to stay afloat. But Eddie was all about staying relevant in the industry. Especially as a Black man. I think he envisioned other “Negroes” (back in those days “Negroes” was who we were, and proud about it) pushing for their chance to get ahead in this new “television” thing and in all the entertainment avenues.
It has not been easy. People like say, Lena Horne, could have had a starring role in a motion picture, if she had not been Black. She was happier as a singer, per articles I’ve read. And she refused to take roles as a maid or a prostitute (Desert News, 2010). She was proud of the color of her skin.
In 1952 Josephine Baker was feeling positive: “I have a very good feeling about Hollywood, I think it is growing up. I think the time is coming when the movie industry will be making
movies with more colored actors. Think of the audiences of colored people through out the world 500 or 600 million, I think the studios would more than make up for whatever loss they might suffer in the South. and I think the day is coming when the South will go for such pictures, too.” Salamanca New York Republican, J Baker
Today I read in Wikipedia that:
Tyler Perry Studios is one of the largest film studios in the nation and established Tyler Perry as the first African-American to outright own a major film studio.
It says he prefers to write his work himself. That’s what my father did.
I believe Eddie would write an article today, if my some miracle he came back, like the one he wrote to the Negro Hour radio show in 1938: In regard to their theme song: “Find a brilliant work of some of our great Negro composers. There are many. Or you might even pick a suitable stanza from the pen of our poets (Dunbar and others), set it to music. Brilliant, forceful music.” Further along he tells them “And now in closing, USE THE NEGRO NEWSPAPERS to tell the people that you have a program.”
I think Eddie’s thoughts then could very well be his thoughts today in championing progress for Blacks in Entertainment. In other words, have a positive belief in your ability to succeed, the will to push through, even though obstacles block you time and again and watch what happens.
Those new to this site or you longtimers – My book can still be purchased through Amazon: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.