Hey there! As James Brown would say “I’m back!”. Not that I’ve gone anywhere, just haven’t posted lately. I have discovered that writing a second book is not as easy as my first book was. My expectations were not as high-I was simply writing a book that could possibly provide inspiration and encouragement. Just a little book. But this second book is going to be about a beloved 70s and 80s tv sitcom with moving stars and everything. Will I do it justice? (Faint hint of tears, right now!) So instead of staying at my laptop I go to the thrift store. Or the market. Or I take a nap. And then another day has passed. And my online postings dwindle. So, I am back and I am starting with this beautiful picture of Marla Gibbs because she has a trophy in her hands. I am hoping to get a quote or two or three from Ms. Gibbs as she was such a major part of the sitcom I will be writing about. The Jeffersons was a show that ran from 1975 until 1985 and can probably still be seen somewhere in re-runs. A top ten show for many years. (Do you know some folks have never heard of this show, either they are too young, or from another country or just don’t watch tv.)
However, today I am writing about Marla Gibbs agent, Ms. Ernestine McClendon. I was watching an interview with Ms. Gibbs and I heard her mention her agent’s name. Ernestine McClendon was her agent when she auditioned for The Jeffersons. So, I looked up Ms. McClendon. There is not much information immediately available for this lady. The fact that she was an agent, and an actress, and had been in a few movies in the 80s was about all I got, at first. I couldn’t even find a picture of her.
Ernestine McClendon was a Black woman. Born in 1918. I found out that not only had she been in three movies in the 80s and 90s, she had also appeared in the Schlitz Playhouse in 1952! I finally remembered my newspaper account and that’s when I found her picture. (it pays to be diligent) She had a leading role in a play around 1954 titled Anniversary Waltz (she is second from left).
In 1961 she was cast in A Raisin in the Sun. According to the local newspaper: “HYDE PARK. N.Y. August 29 to September 3 Only Mid-Hudson Area Production “A RAISIN IN THE SUN” with ERNESTINE McCLENDON RAYMOND ST. JACQUES. Ernestine McClendon plays the courageous Mama who tries to keep her family together. Miss McClendon received rave reviews for her performance of this role this summer. A noted actress, Miss McClendon appeared in New York in Alley of the Sunset and Member of the Wedding and on television in Lights Out, and The Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.”
Somewhat like my father, Eddie Green, Ms. McClendon was well-received as an actor but does not get a lot of online mention. Maybe because she stopped acting for awhile and became an Agent. But she was a successful Agent. Especially for her Black clients. She worked hard to get them into casting rooms. Then went back to acting! Ms. McClendon was acting until 1991 when she died. Maybe there just wasn’t someone to do a whole lot of research on Ms. McClendon.
To make a point that bothers me, I need to mention that Ann Sothern was also in that Schlitz Playhouse of Stars episode which was titled “Lady With a Will”. Ms. Sothern may be a bit more familiar to some of you. She certainly has more information listed online. Born in 1909 she too was in show business for many years. Worked on stage, radio, film and had her own television show. Her last film was Whales of August in 1987. She died in 2001. Maybe Ms. Sothern has a bigger presence online because she worked in television. There are a lot of pictures of Ann Sothern online also. Somebody took the time to take those pictures. She was pretty. Ernestine’s picture is not the best, but it looks like she was pretty, too.
Anyhow, it’s a good thing I like writing about those entertainers who had successful careers but kinda fell into obscurity.
One last thing, somehow we all seem to wind up crossing each others paths. Ms. Sothern died in Ketchum, Idaho. My father worked on Duffy’s Tavern with Ed Gardner. When I wrote my father’s biography I met Ed Gardner’s son and we became pen pals. He lived in Ketchum, Idaho. Ms. Sothern worked with Ernestine McClendon who knew Marla Gibbs. Awesome-sauce!!
Hey, thanx, for stopping by. 🙂