Forget Amos ‘n’ Andy?

Gosden, Correll, Green, (?), Wade

Welcome! The one thing I have found over the last few years is that writing about and/or researching my father, Eddie Green, always makes me feel good, even if I am feeling low, focusing on Eddie makes me feel better. Writing his biography gave me a chance to “meet” him, since I was so young when he died. And I still love what I have found out about him as a man, a performer, a friend, a good husband to my mom, and a loving father to me. My shining example.

Eddie came from p o v e r t y. He chose to be an entertainer, and because he liked what he did and was good at what he did, he entertained when and where he could. He rolled with the times and he became successful. Circumstances in the early 1900s propelled him into action. And his outgoing, good guy personality made him a pleasure to work with, and helped bring him to fame.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s Eddie was on the Amos n Andy radio program. His role started out as LaGuardia Stonewall Jackson, but after the well-loved ex-Mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia died, the name was shortened to Stonewall Jackson. The radio program featured two White men as Amos n Andy. Freeman Gosden was Amos and Charles Correll was Andy. The fact that Eddie, a Black man, had a role on this program was a big deal. Ernestine Wade, pictured above, was eventually hired to play Sapphire and would go on to have the same role on the TV program. The radio program became awesomely popular. The listening audience was estimated at over 40 million, almost one-third of Americans living at that time. Eddie had also begun “Duffy’s Tavern” and the money was coming in.

 

S. Williams and T. Moore

Not everyone was crazy about the fact that Gosden and Correll chose to use a “Negro dialect”, or that they seemed to appear as “lazy” and “shiftless” Black men. And when the program went to TV in 1951, the NAACP were not happy to see this played out on the screen. Even though the TV program used only Black actors. Spencer Williams played Andy and Tim Moore played George “Kingfish” Stevens. (These men actually took lessons from a White person on how to talk in “Negro dialect”). Due to protests the TV program was cancelled in 1953, putting some good actors out of work, but reruns were shown until 1966.

When asked if I would think about writing an article on “Should we forget Amos n Andy?” I did begin to think about it. This is a precursor.

In doing the research for my second book about The Jeffersons TV sitcom, I ran across a quote from Sherman Hemsley, he said he did not pay attention to racial discrimination and he said that: “I used to like ‘Amos and Andy.’ I loved them. I don’t see anything embarrassing about that show. Some people have to hide from things. I remember when people used to hide from kinky hair and things like that. “Everybody you talk to is a reflection of yourself—you’ve got to learn to see yourself in everybody.”

As for myself as a child I thought the Amos n Andy show was funny. It was always on TV at our house. So was the Mickey Mouse Club (I totally had a Mouseketeer hat), and Boxing and probably Ed Sullivan. I even had a Daniel Boone hat with the long tail. It was all about being entertained. Frankly, I believe that everything we lay eyes on and/or hear will always be in our memory banks. I give props to all of those people who choose to do what they love, bypassing the bad criticism and contributing some good to this life.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

I MUST Be a Genius

Thank Goodness for rough drafts. One is SUPPOSED to make mistakes, lose paragraphs, misspell words (though I am a spelling champ). I was so excited, no, not excited, emotional. I was so emotional last week the day I printed out my first rough draft of my second book. Such a big deal! Then I realized I had left out a good 10,000 words. And of course I had to figure out where they needed to be inserted. Then I realized “red” does not print because I only have a Black ink cartridge. Then I ran out of Black ink. And of course I have no money so I have to wait until next week to get more ink. But, 2 weeks before this I was on the phone with my daughter crying about my inability to do justice to a second book.  Anyhow, I wound up with copy paper here, there and everywhere, making insertion notes, and adding in additional pages I was able to print out.

But that’s okay because evidently this is what geniuses do. We are messy. So getting messy with a rough draft is perfect. Thinking of myself as a creative genius will keep me from stressing out. Because I know I am a good writer, otherwise I would have never attempted that first book. I also believe that there are many good writers out there, otherwise how would we fill our libraries. Which is one thing that helped me realize I could write a book. Millions of people have written books. Books, songs, screenplays, scripts for TV sitcoms.

Sitcoms like The Jeffersons. The subject of my newest book. The Jeffersons was a spin-off of All In The Family. George, Louise and Lionel were introduced to the Bunkers during the early 1970s and the sitcom itself aired January 18, 1975. The idea was to annoy Archie Bunker by moving a Black family into the neighborhood. Archie wasn’t too fond of Black people and George wasn’t crazy about Whites and somehow this program was going to use these two characters to provide comedic entertainment for the TV audience. Between Carroll O’Conner and Sherman Hemsley they did just that. I love working on this book, but I do miss writing my first book about my father, Eddie Green. Another well-known and successful comedian who didn’t get the chance to work in television as he died too early.

This is me at a library in Los Angeles giving a presentation of my father’s biography. I believe I was preparing to play a cd of different people recording my father’s first song written in 1917 “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, or maybe I played “You’ve Got The Right Key, But The Wrong Keyhole”. I know we had fun that day. The cool part about this still today is that I continue to receive pictures, articles, and messages from fans of my father. I was only 3 when he died. I basically have no memory of him, maybe a shadowy lap in a dark suit. So I have only gotten to know my father after I have reached adulthood. I will probably never stop sharing about him, no matter how many other stories I write. Would you believe my daughter actually put the video of me at this library on Youtube?! Genius At Work.

Hey, thanx, for stopping by.

Reminder: My first book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer  Check out the reviews on Amazon or just buy it and read it for yourself, you’ll be glad you did.

Swingin’, Singin’ and Dancin’

Paul Benedict, Zara Cully, Roxie Roker, Franklin Cover

Hi there-I’ve headed this post with a still from the 1975-1985 tv sitcom “The Jeffersons” just to let you know that I am still in the process of interviewing guests/writers from this series-for instance, I have been in touch with a lady by the name of Lydia Nicole who played a young female gang member who stabs George! I chose the above picture though because Zara Cully was a favorite of mine, I always thought she was so good as George’s mother. And I liked Paul Benedict as Mr. Bentley. He was a part of the show from the beginning all the way to the last episode. It will be a good couple of months ’till I begin my first rough draft.

In the meantime, I will post more articles about my father, Eddie Green! New articles. I have found a new internet source to get articles about Eddie’s entertainment life. It’s taken me 4 years to find this in print:

Hazel Scott was a classical pianist, singer and actor. She was married to Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (I was baptized by Rev. Powell). I wish I could have heard Eddie and Hazel on “The Bishop and the Gargoyle”. Hazel was a music prodigy and was given scholarships to Juilliard School from the age of 8.

The Bishop and the Gargoyle was a 30-minute old-time radio crime drama from September 30, 1936 – January 3, 1942. Bishop and the Gargoyle focused on the combined crime-fighting efforts of a retiring bishop of a church and a convict called the Gargoyle. As a member of the parole board at Sing Sing Prison, the Bishop met and befriended the Gargoyle. In return, the inmate helped the bishop “to track criminals and bring them to justice”. I can’t even imagine how they decided to cast Helen and Eddie-a pianist and a comedian. Richard Gordon played the part of the Bishop. I could not find much on Mr. Gordon until I discovered a podcast by J. Widner-apparently Mr. Gordon was a character on many radio shows; in 1933 he played S. Holmes with Leigh Lovell as Dr. Watson.

I also found an article in the Brooklyn Citizen newspaper from 1943 about Eddie being in a play with Mary Martin, you know, the lady who played Peter Pan. Mary was an award-winning actress, singer and Broadway star. At the time of this post Eddie had become a filmmaker, a well-known radio star, a music publisher and had been signed to appear in a Paramount movie.

Eddie was a hard-working show biz man. As I continue to write about him I am able to feel a part of those days when my father was alive. I no longer think of him as my father who died when I was only 3. If I could have a twilight zone episode or a one step beyond I would love to step back into those days and follow him around. I guess my research and writing about him helps me do that.

Hey, thanx, for stopping by.

To my new friends, the title of my father’s biography is Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.

Doris Day-Cool; But, Remember The Mills Brothers?

Welcome!!

 

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1935: Photo of Brothers Mills, The Mills Brothers signed 1935 by each of the brothers. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Today, watching Social Media, it has occurred to me that there are not many Black celebrities from back in the day remembered/celebrated for their many successes. The fact that I wrote my father’s biography was the best thing I could have done for his memory. People are so glad I wrote it! My father’s life story includes the fact that he sent one of his songs to a publisher in New York asking him to give it to the Mills Brothers or some such quartette. So I did a bit of research on the Mills Brothers. How many people remember the Mills Brothers? Probably a lot, but not as readily as they remember Doris Day. Maye it’s because no one talks about these Black giants of entertainment. And the Mills Brothers successes were phenomenal. The Mills Brothers made more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies and garnered at least three dozen gold records.

Pennsylvania Historical Marker

They became local radio stars and got their major break when Duke Ellington and his Orchestra played a date in Cincinnati and he was able to hook them up with Okeh records, the same company that recorded my father.

“Tiger Rag” became a number 1 hit on the charts. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They were a hit on CBS in 1930–1931, particularly when they co-starred on the popular The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour hosted by Rudy Vallee (where my father would perform 1934-1937).

In 1934, The Mills Brothers became the first African-Americans to give a command performance before British royalty. They performed at the Regal Theatre for a special audience: King George V and Queen Mary. It was during this time that they lost their brother John, Jr. and their father took over his spot.

“I’ll Be Around” became a hit, and then a disk jockey played side B and “Paper Doll”, (written by Johnny S. Black) recorded in fifteen minutes, became a hit. It sold six million copies and became the group’s biggest hit 1943. “I’m gonna buy a Paper Doll that I can call my own”.

 

They appeared in movies in the 1930s and tv programs in the 50s (The Perry Como Show, The Tonight Show, The Dean Martin Show). 

The rise of rock and roll in the early fifties did little to decrease the Mills Brothers popularity. “Glow Worm” (Johnny Mercer version) became the 5th million selling record in 1952, they had a hit in 1958 with a cover version of “Get a Job” by The Silhouettes. Their last hit was “Cab Driver”.

In 1998 the Recording Academy recognized the Mills family’s contributions to popular music when it presented Donald, as the sole surviving member, with a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Mills Brothers Hollywood Walk of Fame

These four gentlemen were HOT. For quite a while. And it gives me great pleasure to know that my father wrote a song that he thought might work for The Mills Brothers. Doris Day was cool, I memorized “Que Sera, Sera” as a child and have seen almost all of her movies; but I love listening to those Mills Brothers. (“Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer”) – Johnny Mercer version.

 

Hey, thanx for stopping by 🙂

 

 

 

wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mills_Brothers#References

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Respect Will Mitigate Chaos

Welcome. Thank you for visiting my Blog about my father, Eddie Green, and other stories of inspiration. Welcome to my new friends.  I’ve been posting here since 2014 and it has been a wonderful experience on line. Unlike other social media sites, I get to say whatever I want without having to expect “backlash”. I voiced my opinion on a question once on Twitter and I got so many mean responses I almost quit the site. But I realized it was not me or my thinking, just a lot of trolls. I have  good social media connections now and I love it. 

Life on planet Earth can be troublesome. These days, in America, is seems much more dangerous than in the past. So much anger and depression. Recently I received 2 messages from fans of my father who discovered my book and love the fact that I have shared my father’s life for their enjoyment. I received such positive compliments regarding the good that has come through my book, that I got this idea of a post for today. My father grew up and became successful during a truly dangerous period for Black Americans. Eddie was able to flourish even in this environment because Eddie was a nice guy. He was dependable, helpful, willing, well-read, respectful, hard-working and easy-going. He was kind and able to get along with anybody. He liked people. And he made them laugh. I believe we can have a sweeter life if we strive to show more concern and courtesy to our neighbors. As an example, here is an item from the Billboard from 1920:

“Help Everybody by Distributing Useful Information
The following letter from Eddie (Simp) Green, (he dropped the nickname by 1924) who is with Barney Gerard’s “Girls De Looks.” burlesque show is beyond doubt the most unselfish communication that has come to us since the department has been started. His little note Is an illustration of the many services to one another that actors may accomplish thru the instrumentality of this page. The letter:

Buffalo, N. Y., Nov. 9. Jack—Just a line to tell you that the boys playing this town find it so hard to get rooms that I think it would benefit all of them greatly if you would say  in your notes that when they play Buffalo the most convenient place to stop is the Hotel
Francis  directly opposite the New York City Depot. We re here this week and the show is a “riot as usual.” at the Gayety Theater.

Yours respectfully, EDDIE GREEN

(Editor’s Note—Eddie Green writes something besides letters.  He wrote “A Good Man is Hard To Find,” “Don’t Let No One Man Worry Your Mind,” “You Can’t Keep a Good Girl Down,” “Algiers” and the “Blind Man’s Blues”. He also has written himself into the class of regular fellows with the above letter. Billboard December 4, 1920

Tulsa Race Riot 1921

It must have been very difficult to think of others and to be funny to boot. Life in those days was rough.  While Eddie was at the Gayety in Dec. of 1920 trouble was brewing in St. Louis. The upheaval associated with the transition from a wartime to peacetime economy contributed to a depression in 1920 and 1921. The Tulsa Race Riot took place on May 31st and June 1st of 1921. The attack, carried out on the ground and by air, destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district, at the time the wealthiest black community in the United States. It began over a supposed assault of a White woman by a Black man. A group of armed black men rushed to the police station where the suspect was held; there they encountered a crowd of white men and women. A confrontation developed, (Picture courtesy of The Library of Congress)

How does one stay on point and continue to get along with whoever they encounter and also continue to progress in the business of being a comic. The good news is: In 1996, seventy-five years after the riot, a bi-partisan group in the state legislature authorized formation of the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, searching for truth and honesty and respect. Members were appointed to investigate events, interview survivors, hear testimony from the public, and prepare a report of events. There was an effort toward public education about these events through the process. The Commission’s final report, published in 2001, said that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens; it recommended a program of reparations to survivors and their descendants. The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, encourage economic development of Greenwood, and develop a memorial park in Tulsa to the riot victims. Buck Franklin is best known for defending African-American survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race riot, On October 27, 2010, the City of Tulsa renamed Reconciliation Park, established to commemorate the victims of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, as John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in his honor.The park was dedicated in 2010.

 

Then there is this little item written by Gilbert Swan, of the Saratoga Springs, NY Saratogian “Sidelights of New York”, Jan 27, 1930: “Up to Harlem for a gay party in connection with the opening of the latest swanky way-up-town resort: the Plantation Club. And Eddie Green, the comic, doing an Ad Lib song about the columnists present with a verse about my modest self. . . . Which Is the first time it ever happened and left me trying to hide under my stiff choker”.

Regarding that party, about a month after Eddie’s appearance at this all-White club there was a break-in as per this article:

“THUGS INVADE PLANTATION CLUB New York, Jan. 17 — (UP) — Casting aside the usual method of intimidation and assault, a band of racketeers used pickaxes and crowbars to put Harlem’s newest night club, the Plantation club, out of business. The club was invaded yesterday by ten men who destroyed the furnishings, dance floor, costumes and electrical equipment”.  The Daily Argus, Jan. 1930

 

America was a dangerous place in those days. For a lot of people. And dangerous today. But men like Eddie and Buck  were here to show us how to thrive amid chaos. How we can strive to write ourselves into what the Billboard termed as “the class of regular fellows”. We have the ability to foster a kinder world.

Hey, thanx-for stopping by 🙂

Peace & Love

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

 

Tickled to be Movin’ On Up

To quote (or misquote) a line from a movie “What a year it’s going to be!” I’ll open my house in Malibu . . .ok, never mind this post is actually about beginning a new venture that will make the transition from my first book writing journey, smoother.

2019 I will be focusing on two adventures. I will be saving money for my first trip to Baltimore where my father was born. I will be attending a convention while there and I hope to see some friends I’ve made since writing a biography about my father, and maybe I will be able to visit the part of town Eddie lived in. I am not a flyer but I have decided that being in a plane does not mean I may die, living definitely means I am going to die, so I might as well put in the effort to realize my dreams by getting on a plane to Baltimore. Plus I will be giving a presentation at the convention. How cool is that?

I will also be focusing on writing my second book. This will be a non-fiction about the 1970s sitcom, The Jeffersons. I am so tickled!! Someone actually gave me the chance to write another book! Now, when anyone asks me what I do I can say “I am a writer.” I spent my early years pursuing a singing career, then worked 30 years as a Secretary then retired. And now a whole new career has blossomed. I love it. And, I have actually found a connection between one of the characters from The Jeffersons and my father, Eddie Green.

Sherman Hemsley played the part of George Jefferson. While doing a bit of research I found this excerpt from an interview done in 1975, Mr. Hemsley was asked if he watched other Black tv shows. His reply: “Listen, I don’t even watch my own show, because I don’t own a television set. But I used to like ‘Amos and Andy.’ I loved them. ” Olean Times Herald May 9, 1975 by-line Arthur Unger. If you have followed me for a while you know that my father was a character on the Amos n Andy radio show in the 1940s. I don’t know if Mr. Hemsley heard the radio program or watched the tv show of the 50s and 60s but he says he “loved them”.

In 1949, the year before Eddie died this article was printed. “Gosden still speaks the parts of Amos, Kingfish and Lightnin’. Correll enacts Andy and Henry Van Porter. Eddie Green is Stonewall, the lawyer; Ernestine Wade is Sapphire, wife of Kingfish, and Wonderful Smith plays various roles as needed.” Rochester Democrat Chronicle 1949

I began this blog as a companion document to the biography I wrote about my father. My findings went from 1917 with his song “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, into his Burlesque career in 1921, where to my horror he was billed as Eddie (Simp) Green, LOL. Articles like this one helped me verify I had the correct Eddie Green. “Eddie (Simp) Green, the acrobatic dancer, is singing his own songs with “The Girls-De-Looks” Burlesque Show. “Nelson’s  comment on his act in the review of the show  is very favorable. Eddie is a good business man and has his own publishing business at 131 West 135th Street. New York. He is contracted with the show for the next two years.”

I finished the book with news of Eddie’s last movie from 1949 and his death in 1950. The following article appeared in the Los Angeles California Watts newspaper:

Adam’s Bomb
Billed tor Two
Watts Theatres
Patrons of the Largo and Aliso Theatres will be pleased to learn that Mr. Berman, well known manager of both these houses, is now negotiating with Sepia Productions, Inc., who has just produced a new musical comedy featurette entitled, “Mr. Adam’s Bomb.”
Mr. Berman said. “I believe that my patrons would want to see this picture, not only because of the fact that it has an all Colored cast, but it features one of the best comedians in the country-— Eddie Green.

I am so proud of my father. And though I will continue to mention him here, periodically, I am too thrilled to begin a new book writing journey. I’m movin’ on up!!

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

 

 

 

FAME, FORTUNE, AND REALITY

Hi there! Welcome and welcome back.

During the past month I have gotten closer to beginning a second book and during my research on other star’s of the entertainment world I was reminded of a resentment I formed while writing the book on my father, Eddie Green. At one point in time Eddie was famous. It said so in the newspaper articles I found. In 1937 he opened his first Bar-Bee-Q shop in New York. According to the Pittsburgh Courier:

“Eddie Green, star of radio and stage and screen (RCA-NBC television program 1936) has entered another field with the opening of his swanky and cozy Bar-Bee-Q shop on Seventh avenue near 126th Street In the heart of the section frequented by sportsmen, actors and artists of all kinds. In the short space that it has been opened, this food emporium has become a rendezvous for celebrities of the theatrical world. Though well-known for his work on the stage and screen, Eddie Green is best remembered as the radio comedian who appeared for a number of weeks as the featured attraction on the full hour Sunday evening- NBC “Echoes of New York Town” program, sponsored by the light and gas companies of New York cities, and won a marked degree of success for his effort in this spot. Besides, his various guest appearances on any number of programs, including Rudy Vallee’s, Mr. Green just recently completed a week’s contract as star comedian (opposite Gee Gee James, of “Gibson Family” fame) of the Fleishmann Yeast Hour, which costarred Louis Armstrong. His portrayal of the characters selected for him to play, won the hearty approval of metropolitan radio critics.”

Eddie’s Emporium was listed in the local newspapers under the Café section: Listed under the Cafe Section – Manhattan, under American food:  Eddie Green’s Bar-Bee-Q 2149 8th Ave., New York Specializing in Southern Bar-Bee-Q. Finest South’n hospitality. E. Green. Host. Mind you, Eddie was born in Baltimore and spent most of his years in New York, but he loved “South’n” cooking. (8th and 116th Street today).

My point is that he was well-known in 1937.  By 1939, he had started his own film production company and had made two movie featurettes, Dress Rehearsal and What Goes Up.

My resentment came about as I realized that Eddie’s name was in the newspapers right along with other stars who are still well-known today! What began as an inspirational story morphed into a vehicle to get Eddie out of the shadows and back into the spotlight where he belonged.

Newspapers ran ads like these (minus pictures):

1941Buffalo Courier Express December 14 PLAZA THEATER – Michael Redgrave “SONS of the SEA”

1941 Buffalo Courier Express December 14 SHEA’S BUFFALO – Bette Davis “NOW VOYAGER”

“RIDERS OF THE NORTHLAND” Serial, “OVERLAND MAIL” – Also Eddie Green, Famous Colored Radio Star, in Featurette, “What Goes Up”.

You will notice that he was the last on the bill after the “Serial” and his movie was not in upper-case letters. Even though it says he was Famous. But Eddie was a Black man and the movie was a featurette and this was 1941.

My resentment has faded over time, because as I look at what Eddie accomplished in his life despite any negativity I am proud of him as a person. He was a hard-working man. He loved what he did and he payed it forward in how he got along with others and in helping those less fortunate. He was able, in 1941, to share his profits:

Eddie Green to Play Host To 250 Poor Christmas Eve
“Eddie Green will play host to 250 of New York City’s poor on Christmas eve morning. Along with Arthur Oliver, manager, and about a dozen of the girl employees of Eddie Green’s Bar-Bee-Q, they will assemble at the Eighth avenue link of this popular chain of restaurants where they will pack and hand out Christmas baskets containing roasting chicken and all of the fixings that go to make up a good dinner. Tickets for these baskets have been distributed among quite a few responsible persons who in turn are giving them to families that they know to be in need.”

My father was a Good Man. I only got to know him through writing his biography. And I have been given great insight into what it really is to be “Famous”. I love you, Eddie.

Thanx, for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

1939 “NO KITCHEN DOOR FOR ME”


Gee Gee James Refuses To Bow To St. Louis Jim-Crow ‘NO KITCHEN DOOR FOR ME” So said she after being told she had to enter a nightclub through the back door.  In 1939, after being invited to see a play by the general manager of the Whites-Only Club Plantation in St Louis, Gee Gee was unpleasantly surprised to find when she got there that she would have to go in through the back door and through the kitchen.  She said that she “did not see why she should not be allowed to go through the front door like all the other paying guests.” She also said she “just can’t quite get used to prejudice and jim crowism.”

Apparently the Club Plantation was a hot spot in 1939 and was considered one of the outstanding spots In the nation and one of the most pleasing places for Black artists and entertainers to work, however Blacks were not allowed in to see the shows. Gee Gee was invited in because she was in vogue at the time as an actress, but they still would not let her arrive through the front door.

Never having experienced this I tend to forget that Black entertainers of the early 1900s faced blatant racism constantly. Maybe even daily. It had to have been a constant stressor. Yet, actors like Gee Gee and my father, Eddie Green, lit up a room when they walked in.  They were gracious off stage and dedicated to their craft on stage. These trailblazers have, because of their fortitude, become my heroes. I chose to write about Gee Gee James today because she and my father were once comedic partners. But like Eddie before I wrote my book, Gee Gee has pretty much been forgotten or over-looked. In this extremely bad copy you can see her from 1937:  “Luis Russell, Eddie Green, Gee Gee James and Louie Armstrong, who on Friday night, over station WJZ, under the sponsorship of the Fleischman Yeast Company, made show world history.”—Photo by Continental News 1937

I found this wonderful article by Billy Rowe, a well-known Black journalist of the Pittsburgh Courier (1937):

ROWE NEW YORK, April 15,—”A packed house, a wildly enthusiastic audience, an atmosphere of intense joy. A leader with a captivating personality, directing a band, which like himself, knew how to swing . . . Standing before the ears of the nation awaiting the signal to commence *the first all-colored coast to coast radio program. Yes, it was a great achievement, and a personal triumph for all connected with the presentation of Louie Armstrong and his orchestra, Gee Gee James and Eddie Green, for they were the feature players making history in the world of colored show business.”

Barrymore Theatre (1931)
Exterior
Property of Shubert Archive

Gee Gee had been in show business a few years before appearing on the radio program. She and her husband, actor Ernest Whitman, who also performed with my father, were featured in an Old Time Radio program “The Gibsons“. She was also a singer, a dancer and a Broadway star.

As a matter of fact, Gee Gee was performing on Broadway when she got the invite to the Club Plantation.  The play was No Time for Comedy at the Barrymore Theatre in 1939, and ran for 179 performances. The cast included Laurence Olivier as Gaylord Esterbrook and Katharine Cornell. Gee Gee was cast as “Clementine” and “has been received in millions of American homes via the airwaves and who is savoring success after success.”

Gee Gee James refused to be treated as less than any other human being just because she happened to be Black. In 1939. And she was successful. She helped pave the way for other Black people, other minorities, and other women to be treated with respect and dignity. I believe we must remember and uphold these trailblazers, and not let them fade out of view. Because though they are no longer here, they are still role-models and worthy of continued attention.

Well, after writing this I feel like I have just made a speech. So I will bow and say thank you, for stopping by.

Check me out on Facebook, too.

And thanx greg at dejawho

You Better Recognize!

Everyone can enjoy music. Any race or gender. It’s not normally about who is playing it. It really does not matter who is performing the music, only the notes matter. I think, however, what does matter is, who writes the notes and the lyrics. Who gets the recognition. I am happy that despite the fact that my father wrote his first song way back in 1917 his name is still listed as the writer. It’s pretty much a well known fact. And many, many people have recorded or performed Eddie’s song. Just recently a friend played it in a hotel where he works as a pianist. He was surprised how many people recognized the song, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is still being played by someone, somewhere in the world.

The song was made popular in 1919 by a White woman, Marion Harris, the first widely known White woman to sing jazz and blues. Then Sophie Tucker (the Red Hot Mama) fell in love with the song and sung it night after night in her nightclub act. Alberta Hunter took it after that. Bessie Smith, Louie Prima, and on and on. It’s been a fox trot, it’s been played with a ukulele. It was sung by Frank Sinatra in a movie joined by Shelley Winters. However, until I wrote Eddie’s biography most people were unaware that the writer of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was a Black man.

What I have known for a long time is that there are many songs written and/or performed first by African-Americans that became widely popular through White singers who wound up getting the kudos (think Elvis and “Hound Dog”).

John Turner Layton, Jr., was an African-American songwriter, singer and pianist. Born 1894, he died in 1978. Turner Layton’s buddy, Harry Sterling Creamer, born 1879, died 1930, was also an African-American song lyricist. He co-wrote many popular songs in the years from 1900 to 1929. These men were talented, dedicated, and also patriotic as you can see by their first album. And like my father, Eddie, also appeared in vaudeville.

These two men wrote the song “After You’ve Gone” in 1918. Like Eddie’s song, Marion Harris helped make this song popular, as did Sophie Tucker. Edyie Gorme has sung the song, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

“Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” was also a popular song with music by John Turner Layton, lyrics by Harry  Creamer. Sung by The Andrews Sisters (1950) Freddie Cannon, Bing Crosby, Jan and Dean (1963!) among others. Yet, how many people are aware of the fact that these songs were written by African-American men? Where is their recognition?

Layton and Creamer were even commissioned to do a play. ” COBURNS PLAN MUSICAL SHOW: Mr. and Mrs. Coburn. it was learned last week, have practically completed negotiations for a new musical play which they plan to produce. The play is called “The Three Showers,” and the book, lyrics and music were written Jointly by Harry S. Creamer and Turner Layton. If George M. Cohan consents to fix up the book of “The Three Showers,” as is contemplated by the Coburns.”

About 1924 Turner Layton went to Europe. He teamed up with a Mr. Clarence “Tandy” Johnstone and enjoyed a great deal of success. Per the Pittsburgh Courier, 1927: “Turner Layton, Clarence Johnstone Are Playing To Big Crowds In London.”

Like Eddie, Turner Layton was often mentioned in the Black newspapers even as late as 1950, Pittsburgh Courier, 1950: “The Turner Laytons with daughter Alelia vacationing in usual swank style on French Riviera. Turner Layton happy at relief of gas rationing . . . Rolls Royces do less than 8 miles to the gallon. ” The man had a Rolls Royce.

We hear the songs and even recognize the people who sing them and that’s cool. But the recognition of the fact that there is much widely popular music that was written by African-Americans is absent in America. There, I’ve said it. Which is why who wrote the music matters, today. Music is universal. As is the African-American contribution.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Check out my book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.

 

 

 

 

The Blues Can Be Fun-And Other Swirling Thoughts

Happy September 13th! No special reason, just feeling good today. I joined a couple of Facebook Blues Groups and found a whole ‘nuther group of folks who remember my father, Eddie Green, because of some of the songs he wrote. I love the Blues. I love music, period. Music is the one thing that can help me snap out of a funk. Haha, especially funky music. I have been listening to George Clinton and James Brown lately. And the Blues. The groups I found are basically into the Blues from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Down Home Blues. Blues. Butterbeans and Susie were a comedy team from 1917 until she died 47 years later. The typical act featured a duet, a blues song by Susie (often a “double entendre`” blues song), a cakewalk dance, and a comedy sketch.  One of their more popular double entendre` songs was “I Want a Hot Dog for My Roll”, performed by Susie.

 

https://archive.org/details/78_a-married-mans-a-fool_butterbeans-eddie-green-janie-edwards-clarence-williams_gbia0039656b

Eddie did not write the hot dog song but he did collaborate with Janie Edwards to write “A Married Man’s a Fool” which was sung by Butterbeans. “A Married Man’s a Fool If He Thinks His Wife Don’t Love Nobody but Him”, was also a favorite back in 1924. I enjoy sharing these pictures with groups because I found out that there are many people who want to not just read about different subjects, they also are more than willing to share the knowledge they have gained with others. Someone sent me the photo I have here. Eddie actually wrote a play with the same title. I thought that was all there was.

The biography I have written about my father, though well researched and full of interesting stories and articles about his life, could have been twice as long. Wrapping my head around beginning a second book about my father, “Eddie Green-Back By Popular Demand”, is still in the “Should I or Shouldn’t I” stage.

One of the other ideas I have been considering was suggested to me by a few friends. They think my book would make a good teaching tool in a college or university. Because it is an example of a Black man’s rags-to-riches climb through early 1900s America. What motivated him, how he sustained himself at nine years of age after leaving home. How he interacted with others that made them want him around. That made them keep calling him back to perform on their radio shows more than any other Black person at the time in the 1930s. How he used comedy to propel him to Hollywood. I did not even consider getting my book into schools until it was suggested. But, just last week someone mentioned it to me again. This week I asked for advice. I found out about curriculum development and matching it to the grade level and state learning objectives. I copied a paragraph from a friend to help me flesh out objectives:  “The book delves into his professional life, analyzing step by step his path through times in which few black entertainers could reach the kind of success he had. There’s also as much as possible about his personal life to give a sense of who and where he was while climbing the ladder to Fame”. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. But, by golly, I am Eddie Green’s daughter! And my mother’s daughter! Talk about inspiration. She lived ’till she was 87 and had been told she was going to die at age 36. She bought her first computer at age 80 when she came out of her first Hospice as a breast cancer survivor. Tenacity, Determination. An optimistic outlook. Or in my mother’s case, stubbornness.

My thoughts are swirling today. The anniversary of my mom’s death is coming up. She started out on this book writing journey with me but she did not see the published book, nor did she get to see even half of what I unearthed about Eddie’s life. Mom was 30 years his junior and was only married to him five years. During the time he was most famous. Of course, she had the real thing. Good thing Eddie didn’t believe that “A married man’s a fool” stuff. Mom was his 4th wife!

Hey, thank you, for continuing to stop by.