What Makes U Smile?

What makes you smile before you even know you are smiling? It’s a nice thing to have happen. It’s nice to know that in a world where bad things happen, there exists happenings that make me smile, automatically. My lips turn up at the corners by themselves. For instance, a few days ago I got up, turned on my laptop and checked my mail.  There was a message from a friend in England. She started her message with “Hello Dearest Elva”. Since it was early morning I hadn’t had time to become grumpy so I was able to receive this greeting as I know it was meant. My friend is such a nice lady. Someone I met during my book writing journey. She is a good-hearted person. And I know she is genuine. And so it made me feel good to hear from her. It was like an “Awwww” moment. While reading the rest of her message  my lips began to smile of their own accord. She had found an article in a book that was a copy of correspondence my father, Eddie Green had, probably in 1949, with a man by the name of Joe Davis. The article stated:

Early in April, Davis heard from one of his old contacts from the 1920s, Eddie Green. Now managing Sepia Productions in Los Angeles, Green had written to offer a song: “I am sending you this record of ‘You Can Always Believe Your Heart.’ This was taken from the sound track of the picture Mr. Adam’s Bomb’ which I have just produced. This was a short subject produced by us primarily for the Colored theatres. I think I mentioned this to you when I was in New York last summer. This tune should be a great tune for the Mills Brothers or a quartette like them. I am sending it to you because I believe that you, being there in the big City, could reach them better than I can out here.”

Addressing him as Eddie, Davis wrote back immediately: “You know how it always gives me great pleasure to hear from you. As soon as I receive the record of ‘You Can Always Believe Your Heart,’ I will be only too pleased to go over it, and if you have any other songs, please send them to me, as I sure would like to publish a few things more by you.”

The thing is, I have been looking for the copyright of that song since 2014. Or a copy of the lyrics. Or something to prove that Eddie did indeed write the song. So, talk about pleased, I was so happy to see that my friend had actually found a letter from Eddie stating exactly what he did with the song he wrote for his movie! It was amazing to me. When I took my eyes off the page, I realized I had been smiling the whole time. That is such a blessing.

The song was sung in the movie by Margaret Westfield. I snapped this while watching the movie on Youtube from the Internet Archives. Unfortunately I have not been able yet to find anything on her. Though she had a lovely voice.

According to the internet “Joseph M. “Joe” Davis (October 6, 1896 – September 3, 1978[1]) was an American music producer, publisher and promoter in jazz, rhythm and blues and pop music. I might have found him had I known about him in the 70s.

I am in the process of gathering all of Eddie’s songs for possible re-release. Though it is a process. I have to verify copyright and also deal with folks who may claim copyright falsely. I don’t want Eddie’s work to stay hidden. I also want to have the paperwork for my grandson. Any money I make will be minimal-for me, it’s mainly about showcasing my father’s many talents. It’s about what I feel in my Heart. And what makes me Smile.

May you become more aware of what makes YOU smile.

Thanx so much, for stopping by. 🙂

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Interview: Guest “Staras” – Willie Tyler and Lester

Hi there you all. Well, I’ve spoken to my first person who guest starred on the tv sitcom, The Jeffersons. Mr. Willie Tyler, ventriloquist. Lester, his dummy, was not available.  I spoke with Willie for about 20 minutes via cell phone regarding this appearance. I got a big kick out of talking with him.  Willie told me he thinks of Lester as real, that way it’s easier to make him real to the audience. About Lester, according to a newspaper article I found on Fulton Postcards: “You would never know that the little fellow is not human once Willie Tyler sets the flashy little man on his knee and commences an act that has been applauded all over the world.”

Writing a book about The Jeffersons is going to give me the opportunity to talk with many more “staras” as my brother would say, and I’m loving it. I get to research these people and bring back an awareness of their works in the entertainment world. A lot of the people who worked on The Jeffersons are gone now. But not all of them.  Some are still doing their gigs to appreciative audiences. As is Willie Tyler and his buddy, Lester. Mr. Tyler is currently preparing to perform on a Cruise Ship. It’s amazing to me how this gentleman has done his ventriloquist act for more than 40 years. And he still loves doing it.

Willie Tyler and Lester appeared on The Jeffersons in 1978. I intend to share more in my book but I will tell you I found an old tv ad that reads: “George’s stockbroker is a ventriloquist, but is he a dummy? Only Louise knows the answer to that one.” Starring Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley. Tarrytown NY Daily News (1978)

Willie Tyler and Lester appeared on the David Letterman show during “Ventriloquist Week” – take a gander, and, please, keep coming back.

 

ELLE VA – “She Goes”

 

1964 Elva Courier

Lately I have taken to signing my emails with my first name italicized, like this. I have also begun to use a different font from what’s used in the body of the message. Today I noticed that italicized letters give the illusion of movement. Elva. Which then reminded me of the fact that at one time the Elva racing car was quite popular. According to Wikipedia, Elva was a sports and racing car manufacturing company based in Bexhill, then Hastings and Rye, East Sussex, United Kingdom. The company was founded in 1955 by Frank G. Nichols. The name comes from the French phrase elle va (“she goes”). I have obviously started to think of myself as someone who is going forward. So my name is appropriate for this time of my life. My mother told me that my father chose my name and I always wondered how he came up with Elva. I know he took my mom to Paris once, maybe he heard it there. And I do love pairing it with a cool racing car.

This past week I had a library presentation in Los Angeles. I shared about the biography I have written about my father, Eddie Green. The book was published in 2016 and I am happy that I am still being asked to do these presentations. When I started writing the book I never even considered the possibility of appearing before a group of people to talk about the book. I just wanted to write it.

I have gone on to do presentations at libraries, Rotary Clubs, and clubs whose members are in the Entertainment business. I have done podcasts and radio interviews. Here I am at Mark Twain Library, still going, doing my thing-I think I am listening to a member of the audience. (I look just like my father!).

 

In the meantime, I have added to the process of going forward by starting the research on my second book by interviewing the producer of the tv sitcom, The Jeffersons. Yes, I had a 20 minute phone convo with Mr. Norman Lear. For those of you who don’t know, Norman Lear is an American television writer and producer who produced such 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Maude. I wrote out my questions beforehand, went to the park and made the call. The cell phone didn’t cut off and Mr. Lear was easy to talk with. My second book will be about The Jeffersons 1970s-1980’s television program.

I have started to watch all the episodes of The Jeffersons (DVD), and I have even begun to try and get a cast member to do a foreword for the book. My wonderful publisher thinks I am just right for this book writing project, so I must be! ELVASHE GOES.

Hey, thanx, for stopping by!!!

 

We Were THERE

My question is “didn’t Black people ever watch old time radio?” I have begun to realize the magnitude of commercialism and how it played into Blacks being ignored in this world in the early 1900s. While researching African-Americans and their relationship to Old Time Radio I did a Google search for “Old Time Radios”. The search engine game me dozens of images of families sitting around the radio listening to a program. Some actually were looking at the radio as if it was a television. However, none of these families were Black. I am trying to wrap my head around the idea that despite all the African-Americans in America at the time, there was little representation in the radio industry. According to J. Fred MacDonald “the industry in its so-called Golden Age offered only limited opportunities for black men and women to develop.” Even though there was a huge need for personnel.

Of course, there were Blacks working in radio as janitors, or electrical assistants and even an announcer or two. They had to come in the “other” door, though. And there were Blacks performing on the radio, such as my father, Eddie Green, who became Rudy Vallee’s protege’ or Eddie “Rochester” Anderson from the Jack Benny program. My father was evidently so funny that Rudy Vallee would feature Eddie over and over. Then there were shows that were hugely popular with everybody (maybe not the NAACP), such as, Amos n Andy. People everywhere literally stopped what they were doing to listen to this program. Eddie was the lawyer, Stonewall in this program. There must have been some Blacks sitting in front of their radios, or if they did not have one a person could stand in front of their local storefront and listen to the broadcasts. Yes, I am beginning to really see how segregation kept Black people “out of the picture”, except in some rare instances. I mean we were THERE.

Today, If you look up Old Time Radio (OTR), not the Beyonce’ concert, you will get a lot of information about all the White radio suspense, cowboy, comedy and horror shows.

Old Time Radio shows produced by Blacks got a toehold in maybe the late 30s. The one I have researched so far, though got its start on June 27, 1948. Mr. Richard Durham began a radio program titled “Destination Freedom”. Now….. if you look up OTR shows online you will get a lot of sites that post lists of shows and you will get sites that let you listen to lots of shows. Until two days ago I hadn’t found one site that had a list of a Black OTR program.

Two days ago I found one that has a list and lets you download shows of Mr. Durham’s Destination Freedom.  Old Time Radio Downloads. They have won my heart. They actually have clippings of each episode of “Destination Freedom” for my listening pleasure. I love them. Maybe some day this show will appear in the internet search engines under OTR, Old Time Radio, that is.

https://www.oldtimeradiodownloads.com/historical/destination-freedom/the-making-of-a-man-1948-07-25

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

WHAT THE? Communication-Then and Now

 

 

In the 1940s when my father, Eddie Green, was looking for women to dance as chorus girls or to star in one of his movies, he would put on beauty contests. Beauty contests were not exactly new in 1940,  but they were definitely segregated. Which means that these contests only got media attention from the White owned newspapers. If you were to google “beauty contests” from the 1940s, you could find many images of the White ones, but none of the Black ones. This particular contest was for Miss Sepia America. Anyhwho, this is not a post about segregation. Or beautiful girls as it says in the first article from 1940. “Eddie Green Bringing Six Beautiful Girls to Affair At Claver (The St. Peter R. C. Claver Church, located in the Burrough of Brooklyn was hosting their annual post-season Basketball Game and Matinee Dance.)  This is a post about communication, then and now.

 

 

 

As it is next to impossible to read this article from 1941, I will type it out. From the Courier-Post (Camden, New Jersey) – 09 Oct 1941: “Each and every fine cat in Harlem is figgering on draping out in their most much of hard-hitting togs, donning their up-to-date sky pieces and collaring a broom down the midway to Harlem’s Renaissance Casino on the early black of Oct. 9. To dig the most mad lay-out of fine and mellow chicks Eddie Green’s gonna drop on them. Now Eddie is a square (and actually needs some prayer) when it comes to beating up his chops on a bid like this to you. So trilly up Harlem way and dig in on something to gumbeat about . . .Now if that spiel is too panicky for you to latch on, and you’re a Lane from Spokane, or a Home from Rome, may I simply say the date is the early black of Oct 9th. So be on hand to gim those gams…..Dig?”

The funny part here is that it says my father was a square which is probably why I think of myself as being square. But I had a difficult time trying to understand just what this article was talking about!

I do know what “fine cat” means (I’m not THAT square) and I know togs are clothes. And back in the 1940s men were always sharp (meaning they always made sure they looked good). If you were going to the Renaissance Casino you definitely had to look good because the Renaissance Casino, provided the backdrop for the area’s most elegant dances and exciting sporting and political events. In the 1940s it was also one of the few places Black people could go to have a good time. And of course I know the article must mean Eddie was bringing some of his beauty contestants for the fellows to ogle.

After I read that article from the Courier I just had to look up some other terms people have used over the years since the forties. I didn’t really use much slang until the 60s when everything was groovy. I particularly liked “Be there or be square”. Oh, and “book it” (meaning to leave from where you were. “Chick” is a word I still use today. My step-dad could always use some extra “bread”.

Then “book it” became “split”. If you were smoking some grass you had to watch out for the “fuzz”, can you dig it? Women were “foxy” and “phat”, word? Pretty soon everything was “totally tubular”, dude. And then along came Run DMC and I was “illin”. As far as slang goes I think I kind of petered out about this time, though I still hang on to “cool”. So before I bounce I will share with you what I think about slang today. WTF does cray-cray mean anyhow?  Being a square, of course I thought LOL meant “Lots of Love”. (LMAO) It took me an hour to figure out what my daughter meant when she sent me this one night while texting: gn. (Oh! good night) She ended one of her texts with ty-I thought “why would she end her text with my nephews name-then I found out it meant thank you (ty, get it?) ROFL. Sometimes it’s hard AF to figure out what people are talking about. But it’s all good.

KCB

(Keep Coming Back)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propelling Pioneers and Trailblazers

eddiegreenblogbannerI’m mortified. I have not posted for almost two weeks. Periodically, my depression gets the better of me, plus it’s been as high as 117 degrees where I live, so, I have isolated. When up I have focused on gaining followers to my other social media sites. This month it has been two years since the biography I wrote about my father, Eddie Green, was published. Approximately one year since I won the Foreword INDIES 2016 Bronze Book Award for the book. I set up this blog in 2014 for the specific purpose of chronicling my book writing journey and to have a “platform” as those in the know suggested.

Lafayette-Theatre-Macbeth-1936-2I began the research for the book in the late 1990s. It has all been worth it. And then some. Since the book was published I have begun getting all sorts of new information about Eddie. People have sent me never before seen pictures of Eddie. They have sent me new newspaper articles. I have heard new stories from old timers who showed up at my library presentations. I have met thee nicest, helpful, caring people. Gaining new information and meeting new people has spurred me on to further research about Eddie. The information I have found is adding up to me being able to possibly write another book. For instance, in regard to a play titled Playing The Numbers to be shown at the Lafayette Theater in New York, 1925: “Therefore Eddie Green who had been an Important comedian in the Apollo cast was commissioned to organize a miniature stock company that each week will present a 45 minute performance that will consist of musical numbers and burlesque comedy bits. The bits, however, will be revised by Eddie to conform to the special requirements of the neighborhood.” I knew Eddie had been a part of the play but now I’ve learned how big of a part he really played.

brendaleeIn order to not share too much of the new stuff here and also to phase out of sharing stories from the first book, I will be posting additional information on little known and sometimes well-known pioneers of the entertainment industry and/or pioneers of civic issues. Earlier this morning on a news site I saw “Today in History”. Out of 24 items listed, only 2 were about Black people. One item was: 1960 Fifteen-year-old Brenda Lee earns a #1 hit with “I’m Sorry”. As you can see she actually also recorded my father’s song! The SECOND item about a Black person was: 1995 Barack Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” is published. Yay!!

Lemuel_HaynesI am adding one more which kind of goes with today’s climate: Lemuel Haynes, first Black to serve as minister to a White congregation, born July 18 1753 to a White mother and an African-American father. At the age of five months, Lemuel Haynes was given over to indentured servitude. He was freed in 1774 when his indenture expired. Haynes was ordained in 1785 and settled at Hemlock Congregational Church in Torrington, Connecticut. He was the first African American ordained in the United States. On March 28, 1788, Haynes left his pastorate at Torrington to accept a call at the West Parish Church of Rutland, Vermont (now West Rutland’s United Church of Christ), where he served the mostly white congregation for 30 years. Fun Fact: Haynes himself was known to say that “he lived with the people of Rutland thirty years, and they were so sagacious that at the end of that time they found out that he was a (insert N-word here), and so turned on him”. (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p29.html). Looking at this gentleman’s picture I can see how he could have been considered White. And, it seems as if he may have been trying to pass if it took 30 years for the congregation to realize he was a Black man.

Anyhow, the one thing I truly like about writing this blog is doing the research. Sharing it with others is my way of Cheering For Trailblazers. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

And thanks, for stopping by.

The Legendary, and Famous, Eddie Green

Well, it’s been two years since I published the biography on my father, Eddie Green. During the research period I searched and searched for a physical copy of this movie “What Goes Up“. Eddie wrote it, produced it, directed it and starred in it. The movie was made in Palisades, New Jersey in 1941. I am hoping to find it because, of course, it’s my father’s second movie and also because there is a member of the cast of this movie who has just celebrated her 101 years old birthday and she would love to see the movie one more time. She saw it when it first premiered in 1941 at the Apollo Theater in New York, of course, she and her mother. But not since then.

Last week I FINALLY found mention of the movie being shown at a theater in New York:

PLAZA
WILLIAM AT MONROE – Valerie Hobson THE SEA” Russell Hayden “RIDERS OF THE NORTHLAND” Serial, “OVERLAND MAIL”. Chapter 2
Also Eddie Green, Famous Colored Radio Star, in Featurette, “What Goes UpBuffalo NY Courier Express 1941

The Plaza was located near William and Monroe streets. 42 East 58th St. I believe this is in New York as the ad was in a New York newspaper. The ad itself is located way down in the bottom right hand corner of the newspaper. If you were not looking for it specifically, you probably would have missed it. Of course, sixty years later there is now a restaurant at that location. Still just the fact that I found mention of my father’s second movie being shown to an audience is FANTASTIC. And did you notice? The ad says he was “Famous”.

The fact that I have met so many people who are willing to take time out of their lives to participate in finding information about Eddie and getting that info to me is a great impetus for me to continue researching my father’s life. I was actually looking for news about the fact that Eddie was a magician before he became a comedian and a songwriter and a Old Time Radio star and a movie star. I may have to write a whole ‘nother book!!!

Thanks so much, for stopping by.

Book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

 

I Stopped the Process

For those new to my blog and to refresh the memory of long time followers, I am posting a few pictures of Eddie’s entertainment life over the years. Eddie Green was my father. He died in 1950. Born in 1891. Over the years Eddie rose from poverty to prominence due to hard work, determination, talent and love for his fellow man. Eddie learned what was necessary to progress in his chosen field, starting out as a “Boy Magician”. He had a knack for comedy and he used his comedic talent to propel him along his way. And he was successful. He pulled himself up from poverty using his talents. From Vaudeville to Burlesque, to Broadway. From early radio and television to becoming the head of his own movie production studio, producing, directing, writing and starring in his own all-black cast films. From appearing in radio productions for the troops during WWII to becoming a major character on one of America’s best loved radio programs “Duffy’s Tavern“, while opening his third movie and television production studio.

While touring as a “Boy Magician” over the years Eddie added songwriting to his list of accomplishments. He wrote “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which he used in 1919 when he took his own show on tour. The show included singing, dancing girls and comedy. While in St. Louis with this show he saw an ad in the local Variety paper for a comic. Eddie sent an outstanding reply and was invited to become a part of a vaudeville show in New York. His performances here and in Burlesque working at the 125th Apollo, earned him inclusion into a hit Broadway musical Hot Chocolates by 1929.

 

 

In 1929, not only was he a part of the ensemble of Hot Chocolates, Eddie wrote all of the comedic skits for this show. His name is listed twice. The show ran for 219 performances. Two of the songs would go on to be recorded, one “Big Business” was recorded by Victor Records, and “Sending A Wire”. Sending A Wire would also be made into a Vitaphone short by Warner Bros.

 

 

 

Eventually, Eddie began appearing on the radio. Rudy Vallee introduced him to the radio audience, inviting him over and over due to audience reaction, and during the summer of 1937 Eddie was asked to join Louis Armstrong as co-hosts of the Fleischmann’s Yeast hour while Rudy was on vacation. Eddie had also appeared for a number of weeks as the featured attraction on the Sunday evening NBC “Echoes of New York” program. During the 30’s Eddie also had a “first”. He appeared as one of the very first two Black men on an RCA/NBC television broadcast-but I’m saving this for another post.

Eddie went on to become a filmmaker in 1939 making four movies Dress Rehearsal, What Goes Up, Comes Midnight and One Round Jones among other endeavors. In 1941 he joined the cast of Duffy’s Tavern where he became famous as one of America’s most beloved comedians.

When I started this blog Eddie had almost been completely forgotten. Almost. Despite his many accomplishments in the entertainment world and the business world, despite the many friends he made and how widely he became known, beside myself, there were not a lot of people remembering that old comic, Eddie Green. I have written a biography about my father. (Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer, get it on Amazon). Since I wrote the book I have had someone tell me that I stopped the process of my father being erased from history. Wow.

I mainly started the project to show my young (at the time) grandson what a person could do regardless of the obstacles life throws at us. But as I researched my father’s life I realized that his story, so full of inspirational stories, could help so many people. That his story as a Black man born in 1891 could prove to be motivational to Black people for sure, but also to anyone who feels that the odds are against them. Maybe you have someone in your family you could write about. Or you just have some inspirational stories you think might be of help  to others if they only knew about them.  You too can stop the process of someone being erased from history.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

 

Alike – Dying in Service of Our Country

This photo absolutely suits my mood in regard to Memorial Day. I would probably rather “celebrate” Veteran’s Day seeing as I intended to write a post about my father, Eddie Green, and his experience as an African American who enlisted in WWI. Then it dawned on me that Eddie was not one who died in service. I was going to talk about how Eddie was working in a theater in Philadelphia before winding up at a Chicago Training Camp. I wanted to add information about how African Americans had to tear off a piece of their Registration Card to signify their race. After I realized I needed to re-direct my idea for a post, I stumbled across an article in the Pennsylvania York Daily Record newspaper. The article was posted on this date May 27, 2018 earlier in the morning. So I have chosen to share this information instead, as it will do nicely to get my point across.

York County Afro-American veteran George A. Wood was killed in action September 29th 1918 during World War I. Private First-Class Wood is honored on the bronze memorial tablets flanking Gate 4 at the York Fairgrounds. His surname is incorrectly spelled “Woods” among the 197 York Countians honored on the World War I panels, fronting four columns, at the York County Administration Center, located at 28 East Market Street in York, PA. (Stephen H. Smith, York Daily Record, May 27, 2018.)

It seems to me that we don’t really hear enough about our Black soldiers who died defending this country. But while they were serving we sure made it clear they were not White. Even though they too died. Has anything changed?

Thanx, for stopping by.

And thank you Stephen H. Smith; York Daily Record for allowing sharing of your research efforts.

Emmett “Babe” Wallace NOT Vern Smith

I made a Major Boo-Boo on this my last post.  First of all Mr. Vern Smith, an announcer for Jubilee Radio Program was not a Black man. Second, the announcer on this particular video is not Vern Smith as I claimed-he is Emmett “Babe” Wallace. As you read on you will see that I refer to the announcer at the beginning of this video as Mr. Vern Smith. WRONG!

A friend of mine on Facebook, named Bill, sent me the link to this Jubilee Radio Program from 1944 because I sent him a picture of Ernie Whitman, Lena Horne and my father Eddie Green. He could not find a copy of a video with my father so he sent this one with Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (who was actually a good friend of our family). And he introduced me to the announcer at the beginning of this video as Mr. Vern Smith. WRONG!!

The announcer at the beginning of this video was in fact Emmett “Babe” Wallace. According to Jimy Bleu an IMDB biographer, “as an actor, Babe is among the early pioneers of Black Cinema, starring in numerous films alongside some of the finest names in the industry. His career took flight, when in 1943 he co-starred in the 20th Century Fox classic Stormy Weather with Lena Horne and Bill Robinson. He went on to perform in stage musicals such as Anna Lucasta  in London during 1947,  Les Folies Bergere  in Paris during 1952 (appearing as the first Black male star), and Guys and Dolls on Broadway during 1976, with Robert Guillaume and James Randolph. In 1989, he was presented the prestigious Paul Robeson Award by the Black American Cinema Society, along with Marla Gibbs.

Babe is a prolific songwriter, poet and novelist, who has some of his works included in the Schomburg Research Center for Black Culture. Of his thousands of songs, some have been recorded by Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald and Cab Calloway. In 1999, Burger King franchise featured one of his songs “A Chicken Ain’t Nothin But A Bird” in their TV/radio ad campaign.”

Babe Wallace died in 2006.

I did find a Vernon Smith who announced the Ozzie and Harriet radio and television show, who also announced some of the Jubilee Radio Programs.

I claim to believe in finding something out about people I write about, however, in this instance I did not. I wrote about something of which I had no knowledge. I apologize for this and I will make sure to properly research next time.

AFRS Jubilee Radio Program was a show that was an all-Black broadcast of music and comedy skits sent to the Black American forces serving in WWII.  Here’s a visual record of the opening of Jubilee.….You’ll see and hear (first) Vern Smith (NO you won’t, you’ll hear Emmett “Babe” Wallace) then Ernie Whitman………and two other familiar folks. I hope you like “Rochester”‘s singing!! Thanx for stopping by 🙂