I have been studying the whys and wherefores of the Declaration of Independence. Studying what was meant by using the words Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. On Wikipedia one can read about what others who came along after the signing of the Declaration think about what the word happiness meant to those signers. Happiness these days is alluding me. Not because of the worlds difficulties, though these difficulties add to my sadness. But because of my grandson. His personal grown-man problems. Mainly due to his pursuit of happiness.
I realized today that the Declaration does not say “and Happiness”, it says “and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Meaning this is something we are seeking, or looking for, then we are working toward it, or chasing it, or wooing it.
In a 1940 Baltimore article of my father, Eddie Green, it says: Eddie doesn’t go often (to the movies) as he doesn’t care for pictures about death or suffering. It even makes him sad to see a comedian trying so hard for a laugh which never seems to make any headway with the audience.
I suppose that is one reason Eddie became a comedian. He was pursuing his own happiness. Here he is being happy. (He is the silly guy in the stripped shirt). This is a scene from his movie One Round Jones (1941). The Press Sheet reads: One Round Jones is the story of a night club owner who undertakes to build his business by offering $50 to anyone who can go one-round with his “mystery fighter.” Of course, Eddie is the goat. He climbs into the ring shaking like a dish of Jell-O but when he climbs out he’s got the money and the other fighter’s girl.”
According to my mom (the lady he married after his wife of 1941), Eddie was an easy-going, fun-loving man. He was a funny man. Life was good for him. No matter what. He climbed out of the slums of East Baltimore in 1900 and his life just got better and better. He was a happy man. He really was a good role-model.
In pursuit of some happiness today I realized that I have a unique sense of humor, ’cause that “You Suck” picture I posted made me laugh out loud. I will just have to continue to work toward Happiness, maybe I can find some more “You Suck!” pictures. Or maybe if I post more often, it does make me feel good to communicate with friends.
Hi there. This is me sitting in the “green” room at an NPR station (National Public Radio) waiting to go on the air for an interview with In Black America. I will let you know when it will be aired. My daughter, Melony, is my photographer. So the interview was about my father, Eddie Green and my experiences with researching and writing this book. But I started out with this photo for a specific reason which I will get to further on.
Racism exists. Unfortunate but true. When I started this blog I had no intention of using this space as a place to address racism. The intent was to share what I see as my father’s rags-to-riches story in the absolute presence of racism. To show how Eddie dismissed the obstacles and became a favored comedian, actor, composer and filmmaker in the early 1900s. I hoped to be able to inspire others with his story. Besides, I think our troubles today are more about hate as opposed to all about race.
Given recent events here in America, and given that my father was a Black man I feel a need to I chime in with my two cents on the issue of color. Which for me as a light-skinned Black woman is a bit different in how I have been treated through my life.
In 1917 when Eddie signed up for WWI his Registration Card listed the following:
Name Edward Green
Birth Date 16 Aug 1891
Birth Place Maryland, USA
Street Address 1405 Tenpin alley
Residence Place Baltimore, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland, USA
If you notice his race is listed as African even though he was born in Baltimore. On the card it is listed on the bottom half of the left side of the card, which is also torn as a way to identify the Blacks from the Whites. Since then he’s been colored, and he’s been a Negro. He died before he could become Black or African-American.
No matter. Eddie went on his merry way and became successful. Successful on stage, with other greats like Jackie “Moms” Mabley, “Pigmeat” Markham, the sixteen Apollo Rockettes and actor Ralph Cooper (whose nickname was “The Dark Gable”). “Moms” Mabley was still Jackie at that time and James Baskette had yet to become “Uncle Remus”.
Then there was Tam O’Shanter. He did a one man show about an Irish poem writen by Robert Burns, a Scottish poet and lyricist. He recited the poem on stage. I would have loved to see that. This was in 1930. I don’t think Eddie had any problem being African. Or Negro. When he became a filmmaker his letterhead read Of, By and With Negroes. But Eddie was an entertainer and an artist. He wanted to be in show business. As a person. Eddie worked well with everyone according to the articles I found. He was likeable.
Eddie found fame through Duffy’s Tavern. Seen here with the crew about 1942 or so, left to right, Charles Cantor, Eddie, Ed Gardner (Archie) and creator of the show, Florence Halop and Alan Reed. Eddie began with the first radio episode in 1941 and as Eddie, the waiter became a household name. Two tapings a day for east and west coast during the season until 1950.
Now, back to me. My mother, Eddie’s fourth wife, was light-skinned. Her father was Italian. I did not grow up with the same color issues as Eddie. My Black friends called me “High-Yellow” when I was a kid and one or two still call me that today. When I was young my friends would laugh at me and say I danced like a White person. Yes, they meant it as an insult. There is so much emphasis on being Black today I have begun to feel left out. There is a lot of talk about “melanin”. Twitter got upset because a light-skinned Black woman was chosen the winner of a Black beauty contest. There is a sense of displeasure there. Where’s the love?
Anywho, don’t be surprised as I begin a slow transition into sharing thoughts and feelings that are important to me today, while I also continue to show my father’s life and times as being relevant and inspirational in today’s world.
With love. Thanx, for stopping by.
Visit me at https://www.facebook.com/elvagreenbookpage/
This is going to either make me or break me. Which is really not the point here. The point is to show the necessity of yesterday. (thanks, Ben)
Last month a new CD dropped featuring old time black-face cartoon figures. And they were featured in a purposely seemingly demeaning way. The song seems to say that the Black person’s role (even the more affluent Black person) today is not much different than it was then, in some people’s eyes. Seems pessimistic to me. The song went Platinum in a week. One week.
The book I have written about my father has been a hard sell to some Blacks today because of the era in which my father lived. Some people do not see, and do not want to see, the relevance of yesterday’s all-black cast movies or old time radio, or vaudeville as it applies to progress. As for myself, I understand. Seeing my father in blackface has taken some getting used to. It’s still kind of embarrassing to admit my father was a blackface comedian. And if I am embarrassed what do I expect from others?
As you can see in the photo “From Broadway to Okeh”, Eddie performed In Connie’s Hot Chocolates as a blackface comedian. The sketch that he wrote and performed was so funny the Okeh record label recorded it and him.
According to Wikipedia, “it was through blackface minstrelsy that African American performers first entered the mainstream of American show business. Blackface served as a springboard for hundreds of artists and entertainers—black and white—many of whom later would go on to find work in other performance traditions. White audiences in the 19th Century wouldn’t accept real black entertainers on stage unless they performed in blackface makeup. blackface in vaudeville also provided opportunities for Blacks who performed in blackface. From the early 1930s to the late 1940s, New York City’s famous Apollo Theater in Harlem featured skits in which almost all black male performers wore the blackface makeup and huge white painted lips, despite protests that it was degrading from the NAACP. The comics said they felt “naked” without it.”
Eddie’s rise to stardom included not just his talent but his willingness to take the difficult road ahead of him. He climbed the ladder from the bottom rung to success. And he did it well. He became successful because whatever he did he did it the best way he knew how. He was an Actor.
Eddie’s career choice led to a very successful life. Once he appeared in the first public television broadcast as that Harlem Funster, Eddie Green along with his partner George Wiltshire (the first two Black men to appear on television in 1936), his career shot up from there. you can buy the book to read about the rest.
Suffice it to say that by 1948 Eddie was doing swell, the next photo is Eddie from an article announcing his fifth movie, Mr. Adam’s Bomb and my mom, the former Norma Amato, aspiring opera star who married Eddie in 1945.
On June 26, 1948 there was an article in the New York Age newspaper about my father and his thoughts on television:
Eddie Greens Firm Aids Show Business Through Television. The fast growing field of television offers a fertile one for Negro performers, is the opinion of radio comedian, Eddie Green, who revealed that because of this fact his motion picture firm has interested advertising agencies in having their sponsors products sold to the millions who view television via the singing and dancing route.
Designed to catch and hold the attention of the millions who want entertainment on video, Green asserted that instead of the hackneyed manner of selling national consumer goods to the public, his firm will “Deliver the message in a way to keep viewers from turning the dial”. Organized two months ago in Los Angeles with the famed comedian as president, Sepia Productions has already lined up five three-minute skits which they plan to lease or sell outright to ad agencies.
Backstage at the Strand Theatre here, where he’s a member of the “Duffy’s Tavern” radio show, Green said that 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. He 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.
I hope to be able to create a more optimistic view of our pioneers efforts and achievements from back in the day and how they benefit us today. This may be a long shot, but I want to make their achievements “cool”. As in “yea, that’s cool”. And then if my book were a CD there’s got to be enough optimists out there to make it go platinum!!
With this post I have unintentionally gone way off topic. But I needed something to strike me funny today. My intention was to type a post using a phrase stolen from my publisher: The necessity of yesterday. We were discussing the difficulty of getting today’s younger people interested in reading about the entertainers of the 20s, 30s, 40s.
I want to figure out a way to show progress not just in cars or technology but in people, most especially in Black people who still experience difficulty in progressing in America. I believe that seeing from whence they came will enable Blacks to recognize their own progress and see how the past has contributed in a good way. And Black people have progressed, do progress and are progressing in entertainment.
So I went online to get ideas for where we were yesterday and where we are today. The necessity of yesterday. So I looked up “the good ol days” as a way to get ideas of “yesterday”. Well, I found a few fond memories of yesterday, but not a lot. I found more “the good ol days sucked” images. And, the really sad part is that I found very few “good ol days images” featuring Black people. The images I found with Black people in them “truly sucked”. And I felt sadder than when I started this post.
I want to be able to show the younger Black people of today that the images some Black actors chose to portray back in the day contributed immensely to what Black actors can do today. Had there been no “yesterday”, (the 20s, 30s, 40s) Black actors suffering the slings and arrows of life in the entertainment industry, (and in life in general) there could not be the many, many successful Black people on the screens today.
Somehow I would up looking at weird advertisements from those days, cocaine cough syrup, Bourbon toothpaste. Then I saw the “new kind of hat” that grows hair!! And I burst out laughing or as they say to I LOL’d. Whenever I laugh I know that all is not lost. Life is still laugh out loud funny. I mean, look at that hat! Would you wear that hat? But I guess somebody had to try it first.
Hey, thanx for stopping by and may something make you LOL.
Lizzie Miles version of my father’s song. I love this version.
One hundred years ago in August my father, Eddie Green, would have been 27 years old. On June 5, 1917 he signed up for WWI. In the same year he copyrighted his first song “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Twenty-eight years later when he was 55 he married my mom who was 22 at the time. After a long and fruitful career as an entertainer and entrepreneur Eddie died in 1950. If he were still alive in August he would have been 127 years old.
I have since written a book about Eddie, had the book published, done a few interviews, had an article written about myself and the book; won an award-WooHoo!!! Winner, winner, winner! And I am looking forward to more interviews and writing an article on my father which will garner more exposure.
I did a presentation at a local library and when I mentioned the title of Eddie’s first song the ladies in the room began to talk out loud: “It’s still like that today!” “You better believe it.” My brother, who was in the room, kind of cringed and the ladies apologized but they were all laughing.
This incident and the fact that this song was used in a 2014 Woody Allen movie, the HBO movie “Bessie”, and the award, show me that my father is still relevant today, 127 years after he was born.
Bestselling author, Dean Koontz said, “I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.”
I permanently posted this quote onto my blog, and I said in my first blog post from November 12, 2014:
“I found this quote while doing some research for a book I will eventually complete. I began my research in about 1998 because my then small grandson’s favorite words seemed to be “I can’t”. Usually in regard to why he did not finish his homework. His homework was always too hard. I came up with the bright idea to enlighten him on what a person can accomplish by telling him about, and by writing a book for him about my father, his grandfather, who was a black man born in poverty in 1896 and who rose to prominence despite many obstacles. What I hoped to impart to my grandson morphed into a desire to share inspiration to any person who feels they “can’t”. A desire to talk about what motivates people, about determination and about how much work actually goes into achieving one’s goals, and how that work can be extremely rewarding.” Or maybe even Awarding.
Well, the book has been completed. Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer was published in July of 2016. On June 24, 2017 I and my book became the 2016 Foreword INDIES WINNER in the Performing Arts & Music (Adult Nonfiction) category!! Me!!
Mr. Howard Loy, Executive Editor said in a congratulatory article: These were the publishers and authors enabling alternative voices. Many in publishing might disagree with me, but I believe there is no such thing as too much information. Stories, true stories, need to be written down and preserved for many reasons.” He says to me, “Congrats Elva on being a winner!” Me!
For those of you considering writing a book. When I learned I was a winner, I was excited and I wanted everyone to learn about it right away. Of course, things take time. You’re waiting for a personal email, a personal tweet with a picture of your book and your name in big letters. But the convention at which the awards were held was 3 days long. The awards were held on the 2nd day. And there were a lot of awards.
Saturday and Sunday passed. I went from being excited, to being amazed. The research I did, the many public transportation trips I made, all the time I spent on the net and at museums, all of the people that were involved, the fact that people thought my book was worthy of an award was and is mind-blowing.
On Monday I crashed. I cried Monday night, Tuesday morning. I slept all day. I watched old detective shows and fell asleep and woke up and went to bed. Slept late Wednesday, Thursday got up to pay the rent, buy some chili fries and an Orange Bang (large) and I slept. I could not blog until today. I think this may happen to a lot of writers. I tend to think of myself as a person who wrote a book, period. But as my brother Brad keeps telling me, I am a writer. Me.
So, I am finally sharing my GOOD NEWS. I am a WINNER, WINNER, WINNER. You have all helped me in one way or another. You have definitely helped me keep going. And this is only the beginning. Today I heard from the Award committee and my publisher will send out a press release in July. Stay tuned!! I am totally thanking the Universe today. And if you feel so inclined, write a book and tell us about your journey.
Thanx, for stopping by.
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This is not a political article, though I have been influenced in part by the fact that our 44th President, Mr. Barack Obama was a proponent of the use of personal initiative. There is a belief in some circles that personal initiative and hard work is enough to overcome obstacles confronting young black men. Others pooh-pooh the “bootstrap” approach. They believe that better living conditions, better education opportunities are also necessary to help a young man achieve his potential. Both are good points.
There is also a modern day belief that Black men born into poverty are good candidates for being drawn into a life of crime other than a life of legitimate success. Some modern day beliefs are that “soundbites” in the news contribute to the mindset that Black men (when arrested in t-shirts and low-cut jeans) are seen as a threat. (Blacks in the News: television, modern racism and cultural change By Robert M. Entman-journalism quarterly, pg 35.)
In 1910, when my father was coming of age Blacks made up only thirteen percent of the population but twenty-seven percent of those were in prison. In the South in 1910, Blacks comprised 30 percent of the population yet made up 60 percent of those incarcerated (US Census Report 1910).
This racial incarceration gap could have had many causes, including discrimination in arrest and sentencing, differences in family background, lack of job opportunities for blacks, higher urbanization rates of blacks, and differences in educational attainment. (Access to Schooling and the Black-White Crime Gap in the Early 20th Century US South: Evidence from Rosenwald Schools. Katherine Eriksson December 31, 2014.)
When my father, Eddie Green, left home at the age of nine in 1900, the presence of structural racism, the after effects of slavery, the lack of education for Black people, and the lack of healthcare was not a problem for him. The constant objections of White Americans to African-Americans was, evidently, not a problem to him. The lack of job opportunities and differences in family backgrounds was not an issue. He had discovered he could thrive on his own without resorting to criminal acts but through his own talents and his ability to take care of business. He had been raised right. HE HAD ACQUIRED PERSONAL INITIATIVE-THE ABILITY TO ACT AND OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES.
For a child born into poverty that life-style is normal. An infant does not realize poverty. I believe Eddie’s mother provided his early nurturing. Eddie did not have a close connection with his father. I hold the idea that Eddie received love and attention mostly from his mother. Eddie had a love for his mother that he spoke of to my mother.
He learned his work ethics from watching his mother washing countless loads of other people’s clothes and he was hurt by this. He saw that no matter how hard his father worked nothing got any better. But he also knew hard work was necessary to survive.
He learned confidence in his ability to take care of himself, he acquired fearlessness, otherwise how could he have gone out into the mean streets alone. His situation at home prepared him for the streets because what could be worse.
Emotionally, he became the “comedian.” With his comedic talent eventually tending dry humor. He would later become known as a “droll” comedian. Drollery according to the dictionary is a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick and inventive way to create humor.” Evidently Eddie tapped into this natural aptitude early enough to boost his rise to success.
Eddie taught himself to read and discovered books on magic. He found that he liked performing magic tricks and that he was good at it. It was a way to take a person out of the mundane and into a world of fantasy and wonder. He had also determined that he could thrive by traveling through the city offering to perform as a “Boy Magician”.
More than likely Eddie would have read about or heard about successful Black magicians such as William Carl, who in 1890 was billed as the King of the Magicians with a minstrel troupe called Boston’s Merry Musicians, or Alonzo Moore (c.1870-c.1914) who joined Billy Kersands’ Minstrels in 1904.
Eddie had grown up, also, during the time of great African American role models. Men like W. E. B. Dubois, a Black historian and sociologist, who was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, or Frederick Douglass who was also born in Maryland, a slave and who became a social reformer and statesman.
When Eddie left home at the age of nine, he was a good, self-confident, eager, willing, forward-looking, honest and talented young person. He left with the love of his mother cradling him. His circumstances had not made him angry but became a source of determination to have a better, happy life. When money permitted he moved his mother into Gotham City to be close to him. Over the years he would become successful as a Broadway and movie star, a filmmaker, a composer and as an Old Time Radio icon. By the time of his death he had risen to become one of America’s most beloved comedians.
As a testament to his feelings about being Black, this is what Eddie wrote to a radio program titled “The Negro Hour” in 1938 regarding their theme music: “Or you might even pick a suitable stanza from the pen of our poets (Dunbar and others), set it to music. Brilliant forceful music, and thus have a theme song that tells the world, “Here comes an upright, fearless, man”
As a testament to his early learning which I am certain came from his mother, he told the radio announcers this: You must remember that you are gentlemen addressing ladies and gentlemen and if for no other reason than that, a gentleman never raises his voice”.
This is the first lady that I heard sing my father’s song “A Good Man is Hard to Find” on a Los Angeles Jazz radio station in 1988. A friend recorded it to a cassette for me. The song I have placed in this post is different but connected. See, I started to write this post about the difficulty in getting today’s public interested in radio artists from the 20s, 30s, and 40s, unless they are older people or people who are into entertainment nostalgia. And how difficult it has been to get today’s Black people interested in Black entertainers from the same era. Because there are people today (like my younger brother Brian) who have contempt for the “Rochesters” or “Fettchits”. Those slow-talking, yes, sah Blacks, thus making it harder to market the biography I have written about my father who was successful during the early 1900s. They are not proud of these old timers. But I think the fact that these entertainers persevered and succeeded during a time of great hardship for Americans and particularly Black people makes a powerful statement of tenacity that ought to be passed on and on. For instance, our kids today are listening to songs that contain profanity and outright sexual lyrics. But guess what? They need to know that this is not new, they are simply re-stating the same ideas that began back in the 20s with songs like the one below from youtube. Only a bit more subtle.
Yes, Alberta Hunter! 1895-1984. We now have the internet and cable and smartphones and no longer sit around the radio waiting for Amos n Andy or The Hit Parade or Duffy’s Tavern (with Eddie Green as Eddie, the waiter), or The Shadow, but we ought to remember these pioneers and their determination to follow and achieve their dreams. Black or White.
Then, this morning, my focus for this post began to include Racism. I read an article. On March 31, 2017 someone left a noose in the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D. C. The world may have moved on technology-wise, but racism and hatred are still with us. For my Black brothers and sisters this may very well prove to be a reason for not wanting to look back at what some see as negative Black images from the 20s, 30s or 40s. Or maybe they see these as simply by-gone days. But remember, these Black entertainers who came before us witnessed lynchings and still chose to pursue their entertainment dreams. Through courage and determination these old timers left legacies of courage and success. They prove that perseverance, love of life and the desire to provide happiness to others can and will stop negativity from overtaking this world, that the desire to harm others can be lessened and a greater desire to help others can be achieved.
Hey, thanks for stopping by and please share this book info with others.
Due to a recent podcast I realized I needed to gain a greater degree of knowledge in regard to how my father, Eddie Green, got into the field of radio. In his words: “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 was a living example of how one gets ahead in life. He stayed busy, he knew his talents and dedicated himself to making them pay off. His biggest break was in 1929.
I found an article from about 1928, by Chappy Gardner, “Along the Rialto”, in the Pittsburgh Courier: “ Eddie Green, well-known songwriter, electrician, motion picture operator, famed comedian, opened on the Burlesquewheel this season. Played at Newark last week in A Perfect 36. Eddie appeared with the regular cast, being the only race performer, but was at his best in his single that wowed the customers”.
It took him a minute to realize his popularity. In his own words “In the meantime, I was so busy working here and there and doing a bit of writing on the side that I did not notice my own advancement. One indication of the change, I should have noticed, was the fact that I could see my name very frequently in the various trade papers”. Then along came George Immerman and opened a show called Hot Chocolates. I became the featured comic in this show. It turned out that none of the various scenes written for the show were good enough, so I was engaged to write the scenes”.
Hot Chocolates was a musical revue that opened at the Hudson Theater in New York on June 20, 1929. The show was staged and directed by Leonard Harper, with songs byand Thomas “Fats” Waller and Harry Brooks and book by Andy Razaf. The revue was touted as being fast, funny and frank. Hot Chocolates had a run of 219 performances.
Eddie double as a performer in the show along with these two gentlemen
Louis Armstrong Ensemble (Armstrong made his Broadway debut with his role in the ensemble as part of the pit band for the show)
Jimmie Baskette Ensemble (Baskette later became well-known as the zip-a-dee-doo-da man, Uncle Remus, in Walt Disney’s movie “Song of the South” (1946)
A big hit from Hot Chocolates was “Big Business” written by Eddie. It was a “talking song,” with Eddie, Billy Higgins and Company, and “Fats” Waller on piano.
Then there was the record that was produced from one of Eddie’s skits titled “Sending A Wire” on the Okeh record label:
And the Warner Bros Vitaphone film “Sending A Wire” (directed by Murray Roth) (courtesy IMDB) that featured synchronized sound. It was said to be the funniestVitaphone comedy act “which has yet been produced,”, and that it “kept thousands shaking with laughter.”
At about the same time in another part of town, Gannett Newspapers decided to put together a stellar list of entertainers to perform over radio stations WGY and WHAM, to be broadcast to “Little America” for the enjoyment of Commander Richard E. Byrd, an America Naval Officer, and his explorers, who had set up the “Little America” base camp on the Ross Ice Shelf. Radio remained a primitive and exciting medium in 1929, and when the stations contacted Little America directly and spoke with Byrd or Hanson, it caused a worldwide sensation. They chose Eddie to be added to the broadcast to perform his “Sending a Wire” skit.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said: “The whole town is talking about Eddie Green, prime colored comic, who will put on one of the funniest skits on the stage”. The “whole town” (New York) was talking about my father!! He was Big Time! Of course the radio people wanted him. He was Hot!! The “stellar” cast in this radio show also included: Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rudy Vallee one of the first modern pop stars and Ted Healy, the creator of the Three Stooges.
Eddie had to perform in both of these venues on the same night. Problem was he had to be on stage at the Hudson at almost the same time the radio broadcast would begin. This was a predicament. In his words this is what happened: “The Police Department solved the problem by giving me a motorcycle escort from the theater to the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) studio”. He said that they went up Broadway on the wrong side of the street with the police sirens screaming. Can’t you just picture it? The police escorting Eddie through traffic trying not to hit the theater crowd, zigging and zagging!! Just to get him on that radio program so Commander Byrd could laugh his head off and forget about the cold in Antarctica!! I salute the New York Police Department!
Eddie was Hot!! They had to have him! If he were alive today he’d be on Ellen, Oprah, Steve, National Public Radio (NPR), Twitter, Internet. Because he was one of the best comedians of his time. THAT is how Eddie got into radio.
How does one progress through trial and tribulation?
Since the writing of the biography of my father I have been honored by people wanting to interview me. I have found that people are very interested in discovering how “racism” affected Eddie’s progress in his career. My initial reasoning for writing the book was to provide inspiration to those people who think they “can’t” become successful. So I am having to adapt.
However, I believe that Eddie did not waste his energy focusing on racism. Eddie focused on finding what he liked to do and doing it the best he knew how so that he would not have to continue to live the life of poverty into which he was born. It took him a little while to get started but once he did he was on his way.
One hundred years ago my father, Eddie Green, at age 26, was drafted for World War I.
Because he was a Black man (or African as it says on his registration card) he was asked to tear off the bottom portion of the card. Along with the world, he was introduced to a world at war. And this is when he wrote his first song.
Eddie wrote his first song in 1917. “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Perhaps President Hoover’s volunteer predicament prompted Eddie to do some writing that would become his first and biggest hit song. When America went to war interest was not high, men were not volunteering. Good men were hard to find. President Hoover decided to inaugurate the draft. The song had nothing to do with war, but the title was relevant, and the song was written as a blues song, the type of music that was becoming popular.
Life in America in 1917 for Black also included lynchings, and jim crow laws. There were deadly riots in 1917. But Eddie and other Blacks like him persevered. Through the hardship and prejudice of the Jim Crow era, several black entertainers and literary figures gained broad popularity, such as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, with whom Eddie worked, and Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, with whom Eddie also worked. They struggled, but they did it. They got work where and how they could. They practiced. They improved their craft.
By 1927 Eddie was appearing at Ciro’s in The Creole Follies(1927) August in Michigan per the Daily Globe, ‘Creole Follies Co.’ At the Ironwood”, as a dancer and singer. He had also begun performing as a comedian. He was funny. He was really funny.
In 1936 you could hear this voice saying: with Milton J. Cross making the following announcement: “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I am very delighted to be allowed to participate in this demonstration on television. For your dedication, we draw on that droll comic, Eddie Green and his partner, George Wiltshire, offering a little philosophical erudition.
By 1937 Eddie was on the radio co-hosting a show with Louis Armstrong: Mr. Bob Hayes of The Chicago Defender, in his column “Here and There,” began his May 22, 1937 column, thus:, “It was like turning back the pages of yesteryear when we were greeted by our life-long pal, Eddie Green, NBC artist now being featured with Louis Armstrong and his Hot Harlem Review.” His craft was propelling him into bigger things.
Standard Brands Inc. (Fleischmann Yeast) through J . Walter Thompson Co. announced the full talent line-up of its all-negro show which will make its debut over 30 NBC-Blue network stations, April 9 at 9-9: 30 p.m. Eddie Green and Gee Gee James, a comedy team, with Louis Armstrong and his orchestra will be the regular talent. Program will also feature negro guest stars. Octavus Roy Cohen, well known writer of negro fiction, will do the script. Radio Daily April 1937.
Also in 1937 Eddie left Harlem with his (3rd) wife, in August of 1937, to join the Show Boat cast in Hollywood, according to the California Eagle newspaper. Hollywood!
In 1947 the California Eagle did a piece on Eddie in their “Trail Blazers” column. The article spoke of Eddie’s twenty-three years in show business, fifteen years of before-the-mike experience, and thirty years of technical radio knowledge. It mentioned his beginnings with “Fats” Waller in the 1920s and his progress to Duffy’s Tavern. It also spoke a little about his days as a “Boy Magician,”, and of how Eddie began to be booked on all types of radio shows. This article also mentioned the fact that Eddie was a 32ndnd degree Mason and that he had spent the last year working actively with the NAACP.
Born in Baltimore in 1891 to extreme poverty he propelled himself, through talent, determination and willingness into a successful career as an entertainer because he wanted a better life for himself. And along the way he was able to provide laughs with his comedy, entertainment with his dancing and acting, and employment through his production companies and movies. When his career ended at the time of his death in 1950 he was a beloved comedian on one of the most popular radio programs of that era. He had no enemies. He was known as a funny man, a good businessman and a regular guy by everyone he met.
Racism may be a reality, but it can be overcome.
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Please check out my book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer
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