courage

Baltimore1890horsedrawnambulance
Baltimore 1890 Horsedrawn Ambulance-courtesy Google Images

It’s not always easy to figure out how to begin a post. Especially if my brain wants to think about something else, like going to the store to buy cookies (I just discovered Biscoff Lotus cookies). Or if my brain simply doesn’t want to work at all. But since the pandemic has blown up again it’s good for me to sit here and share. Between this latest virus and the riots across the world I fear for us (people). It’s difficult to see a future of joy and happiness. However, I know that we, as human beings are capable of having such a future. In life today though it seems that Blacks still have to fight the hardest to be happy. It seems that more and more Black men are being shot by police. Can this change for the better? Judging by the past I think that it can, however, it will be a mighty long process. When my father was born, 1891 and as he performed as a comedian through the Southern states of America, Blacks were  being lynched on a constant basis.

As far as pandemics go, when he was a small child in East Baltimore he lived with typhus due to the fact that there was no sewage system, especially in the poor neighborhoods. By 1890 Baltimore Harbor was a national joke. While other cities in Europe and in the United States had installed sewers Baltimore had not. Outbreaks of cholera, typhoid or other diseases occurred fairly often. City code required indoor toilets, but it was up to individual property owners to build cesspools, cisterns, or gutters. These emptied into an unfortunate stream called the Jones Falls; its polluted course ran from the wealthier to the poorer areas of town and finally into the harbor. As Eddie’s family were desperately poor this was one reason he left home at nine years old-he wanted to find a better life for himself.

Perrybradford-1200x1200-croppedI have been asked to do an essay on a Mr. Perry Bradford. Perry was born in 1893. As a vaudeville performer and composer and songwriter, he too worked in theater circuits throughout the South and into the North. I imagine that he had the same worries as every other Black man in the South at that time. But he had a goal in mind. Bradford persevered in getting the recording industry to value recordings of African-American artists. In 1957, Little Richard had a hit with Bradford’s “Keep A-Knockin'”. In 1965 he wrote his autobiography Born With the Blues. Later in 1994 his song “Crazy Blues” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Perry lived a long time, too. He died in 1970.

ArlandoSmithMore recently, there was Arlando Smith, born 1952. Arlando came up during the Civil Rights era, police with hoses and dogs and batons. He worked at becoming successful. Arlando was a TV writer and director. During my research for my book on The Jeffersons I learned about this gentleman. He worked on What’s Happening Now, All In The Family, Silver Spoons, 227, The Richard Pryor Show, She’s The Sheriff, The Robert Guillaume Show. The Jeffersons (2 episodes) and Malcolm and Eddie. He was the stage manager for All in the Family, 51st Annual Academy Awards, The Richard Pryor Show, What’s Happening, Sanford and Son, That’s My Mama, Good Times, and The Jeffersons (48 episodes). In 2015 when Arlando Cooper Smith died The San Pedro Sun reported that: “Smith was an award-winning director who directed the first episode of La Isla Bonita Telenovela. He also contributed to several American television series, Arlando Cooper Smith made the Isla Bonita his home, has selflessly supported the island in ways too numerous to count for many years. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him.”

These gentlemen became successful in their fields despite the Race issue, despite lynchings, typhus, and lack of money. Despite hard times. You don’t hear too much about these men. Until I wrote the book about my father few people knew of his many contributions to the entertainment industry. These men were either forgotten or overshadowed. Or simply not known about because of their positions in the background as opposed to being a principal character on a program. Because of who they were-their character-and because of their courage they achieved success, friendship and love.

May we all have courage.

 

 

 

 

My Experience of Continuous Positivity

Well, here we are all quarantined together. A good time to take a look back into the past. The first picture on this post is a copy of a financial document from my father to Joe Seiden from about 1939. Eddie had his first movie studio in Palisades, New Jersey as did Seiden (Seiden Cinemas). Seiden edited Eddie’s films and helped with sound and the making of prints. Eddie made his first four films here from 1939-1941. What is now Fort Lee, New Jersey was, at one time, the “movie capital” before there was “Hollywood”. Fox, Universal, Biograph studios all began here. Oscar Micheaux was at Metropolitan Studios at this site. The last movie Eddie made here was “One Round Jones”, a movie about a nightclub owner who comes up with the idea to pay $50 to anyone who can go “one round” with his mystery fighter, who of course turns out to be Eddie.

When I wrote the biography about my father I discovered one thing. The more I searched for information, the more I found. This has carried over until today. When I first received this press sheet I was overjoyed. I had to have permission to use it in the marketing of my book which was fine with me. What I didn’t realize was that this sheet held a font of information that would eventually hook me up with more information four year after publication of the book. My first example is in the lower portion of the 4th column of this article a Mr. Lorenzo Tucker is mentioned as part of the cast. I did not expand on this in the book, mainly because I had no idea exactly who he was and how he would pop up in future. About a month ago I heard from an Eddie Green fan who had some original photos of my father that he wanted to gift to me. One of the photos is of Eddie and Louis Jordan and a woman name June Richmond. Louis and June had starred in the 1947 movie Reet, Petite and Gone. I decided to research this movie and learned that  Lorenzo Tucker appeared in this movie as the shyster lawyer, Henry Talbot.

Reet, Petite and Gone is about an Old-time musical star Schyler Jarvis, now wealthy, who is dying; his last act is a visionary plan for the future happiness of his son, swing bandleader Louis Jarvis, and Honey Carter, daughter of his long-lost love. But crooked lawyer Talbot has a nefarious scheme to get his hands on the Jarvis money. There is also plenty of swing from Louis Jordan’s Bands. Lorenzo Tucker also appeared in 18 of Oscar Micheaux’s films. He eventually went totally off the movie track and became an autopsy technician for the New York City medical examiner, where he worked on the body of Malcolm X. That original photo that is being gifted to me shines more light. Lorenzo seems to have started out with my father’s movie studio.

Then I noticed that Mr. J. Louis Johnson was also in the 1947 movie Reet, Petite and Gone. He played Senator Morton’s Butler. Well, J. Louis Johnson was a cast member in my father’s Sepia Art Pictures Company, Inc. in 1939. I did mention him in the book but I just did not see the connection. Mr. Johnson was in a lot of great movies. Mostly bit parts, but hey, he must have been a good actor because he worked with such stars as Clark Gable in Homecoming (1948), Lena Horne and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson in Cabin In The Sky (19400, and he had parts in Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train and Orson Welles The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). But he was with Eddie before these others.

One last thing I discovered so far from researching Reet, Petite and Gone from 1947 is that the cinematographer used in the movie is the same cinematographer Eddie used in One Round Jones in 1939, Don Malkames.  I even have a quote from Eddie about Don: The cameraman he uses most of the time is “Don Malkames, a veteran when it comes to cameras”. Eddie noted that “an important attribute in the making of any motion picture is an experienced cameraman, particularly in photographing Black actors as there is a wide variety of skin colors and tints to be found in the colored race.” Eddie was working early on with some of the best in their fields. He knew talent when he saw it.

Because I began the process and wrote the book more and more information is being found and revealed to me four years later from people who have had an interest in Eddie Green before I wrote the book and who are now able to share their interest with me because of the book. This has been an expanding learning event for me. The book, this blog, the people I have met have been a continual source of positivity, and I really only started this writing thing to pass on some information to my grandson. I have found that I love bringing to light people who have contributed to this world in a positive manner but who have been overshadowed. Blacks, yes, because that is where my roots are along with my Italian roots. So when I say “people” I mean anyone, really. I just like to acknowledge people who deserve acknowledgement, in my opinion.

I want to thank all of my followers here at WordPress for hanging in here with me. My next book, tentatively titled The Jeffersons – A Fresh Look Back is just waiting for me to complete a couple of interviews, fill in a few more kudos to the crew and I’ll be afraid to, no, I mean I’ll be ready to show it to my publisher.

Thanks, for stopping by.

And thank you, Dan H. for keeping me continually proud of my father.

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

Super Fans “Like” 1900s Entertainer Eddie Green

When I began this blog in 2014 I was still in the process of doing the research for the biography I wrote about my father. I had lots and lots of news articles about Eddie, I had pictures of Eddie that I didn’t even know existed before 2014 and I was finding more and more information about my father than I even suspected. As an entertainer in the early 1900s Eddie was busy. And his doings were routinely printed up in the local newspapers. Mostly the Black newspapers, but also in Billboard (which is still in business today). In the beginning they were just one-liners (Eddie Green at the Gayety), and then as time went by the articles became longer. Then interviews were printed as Eddie got more famous. Five yeas before Eddie died he was featured in the Paramount movie “Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern” (1945). The popularity of the Duffy’s Tavern radio program seemed like a good idea for a full-length movie in which the principal characters of the radio show were signed to play their same parts in the movie,  Ed Gardner as Archie, Charles Cantor as Finnegan, Eddie Green as Eddie the Waiter, and Ann Thomas as Miss Duffy. Paramount used almost their whole roster of stars in this movie:

Bing Crosby as himself; Betty Hutton as herself; Paulette Goddard as herself; Alan Ladd as himself; Dorothy Lamour as herself; Eddie Bracken as himself; Brian Donlevy as himself; Sonny Tufts as himself; Veronica Lake as herself; Arturo de Córdova as himself; Barry Fitzgerald as Bing Crosby’s Father; Cass Daley as herself; Diana Lynn as herself; Victor Moore as Michael O’Malley; Marjorie Reynolds as Peggy O’Malley; Barry Sullivan as Danny Murphy; Robert Benchley as himself. If you look this movie up on the Internet you can see a color poster of the whole cast, except for Eddie. But the longer I spent researching the book, the more I found. The photo at the top of this post (I hope it’s there), is a black and white version and Eddie is pictured at the bottom in the left hand corner, the only Black person in the cast. Being signed for a part in this movie was a good thing actually, for Eddie. Publicity-wise and money-wise.

Since publishing my father’s biography what I have discovered is that there exists much more information about my father that I did not find, but others have. Fans of my father have sent me pictures, articles and cd’s of Eddie’s radio shows. My publisher told me early on that I would probably find more information and that I should save it up for a second book about Eddie. Well, he was right. Even today 2020 in the past week I have been contacted by someone who has a couple of pictures and a Duffy’s Tavern (DT) beer mug from the 1948-49 season. I didn’t even know DT beer mugs existed. A Twitter friend sent me dozens of articles he found while doing some research. He said in his first email: “It’s been so interesting tracing Eddie’s career – he was really well-known, and liked.” This is so remarkable to me that these people have taken the time to trace Eddie’s career and have held on to items related to Eddie. If you are an old movie fan you will recognize the name Adolphe Menjou in the Lincoln Theatre ad. He was famous! And there’s Eddie Green appearing at the same theater.

Of course, I could go on and on about my father. Since I don’t really remember him, writing about and talking about him brings me a type of peace. Something that makes me feel good always. This is my Black History. This man though born in 1891 chose to drag himself out of his childhood poverty, taught himself to read and chose a path that he liked and was good at and became quite successful in the field of entertainment. Plus, he was a nice guy while doing so. He became well-known and “liked”.

Thanx, for stopping by and for new people to my blog: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer is the name of my book. 🙂

BLACK HISTORY VS SUPER BOWL

I’m typing this on Super Bowl Sunday the second day of February. February has been designated Black History Month (or as Mr. Obama said: African-American History Month). We progressed over the years from 1926 when we celebrated Negro History Week. As a matter of fact there was a Negro Week at the 1940 New York World’s Fair. However, when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around on February 2, 2020 it’s all about football. Yea, it’s just one day. But the lead up is crazy. And do you know how much some of those tickets cost? This year I have noticed that people are focusing on civil and voting rights for Black Americans or lack thereof back in the day. What I want to do is celebrate Black Historical Americans. Especially those who may not receive much notice these days. Of course, I could just post about famous Black footballers like Ray Kemp. But I’m not really into football, so I would have to do a bit of extra research. Which is how I found this guy:

 

Raymond Howard Kemp (April 7, 1907 – March 26, 2002) was an American football player and a charter member of the Pittsburgh Pirates football team (now called the Pittsburgh Steelers). He was also the first African-American player in the team’s history. It’s kind of amazing to me that this man was still alive in 2002 and I’ve never heard mention of him. I am not a big football fan but I have watched a few games and I have seen the Gayle Sayers movie (a heart-breaker). What I’m saying is that there are a lot of Black Americans in history who have made great contributions that we do not hear about. Even if they played football.

 

What I know a lot more about is my father’s life. As the title of my book says, a Black American Entertainment Pioneer. Eddie Green. In this post I am sharing about Eddie in 1941. He was 50 years old, and had become a filmmaker, working his way up from a poverty-stricken childhood, through vaudeville, burlesque, the stage and many radio programs as a magician, a dancer and comedian. His household fame hadn’t come yet, but his name was always in the local Black newspapers. Eddie used a lot of young women in his movies as chorus girls. He would find his ladies at beauty contests. In 1941 there was a contest at the Renaissance Club in Harlem. Eddie presented the winner of the “Miss Glamourous” contest. Her name is Millicent Roberts. Millicent was 101 years old a couple of years ago. A living legend of Black History-when we had Black beauty contests. She also had a part in one of Eddie’s movies “What’s Going Up”.

I celebrate Black history every day. Through my mother and my father. My mom’s got some Italian mixed in on her father’s side but she always identified as Black. (This sometimes caused her problems-in later life she told people she was a gypsy and they would not question her further.) Anyhow, I’ll be posting in celebration of Black History this month. Because there is a lot of good information out there about African-American history that needs to be shared. History that has been blended in with the stories of America that make for great reading.

Thanx, for stopping by and Keep Coming Back!

 

 

Photo of Ray Kemp: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34938508

 

Happy Holiday Surprise!!

SURPRISE!!!! About two weeks ago it Snowed in the Antelope Valley in Sunny Southern California! Real Snow. In Lancaster, where it was hot as the blazes a couple of months ago. Snow in the Valley. I’ve seen snow before, in Manassas, Va. Not here. So all the neighbors were out taking pics and some of them made snowmen and snowwomen (guess how you could tell the difference). All I could think of when I went outside was “Merry Christmas!!!!” So I shouted it out. An early White Christmas. I love it! It hung around for about 3 days before it melted away. I took this pic with my old “free” government phone.

I have since bought a brand new Moto phone mainly because I could and also because I needed to be caught up with technology. I am now freelancing as a book marketer because of the fact that I am a published author. For anyone new to this Blog, I began it to post about my 1st book Eddie Green, The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. A book about my father. (this pic was a table set up by my daughter at a book presentation). Which led to my publisher asking me to finish a book writing project about The Jeffersons.

I began researching and interviewing last December 2018. I am THIS close to having a rough draft for my publisher. I’ve spoken to cast and crew members, writers, directors and guests. I’ve spoken to those who cannot be done without – Administrative Assistants (I’ve been one so I know their importance). My self-imposed timeline to finish a rough for my publisher was the end of December 2019. It’s quite possible I may go a tad bit over. But everything about this book writing process is fun, except the proofing (:() Rather tedious, but necessary.

Don Coyote 1934 w/Reginald Denny

My new marketing project is about me posting information for others on Social Media sites. In 2014 when I bought my first laptop to write my first book I had no thought of what will I do after I write this book. None. In wanting this site to be inspirational I hoped others could begin their own books (you know the one you’ve been putting off for years). I really had no thought of where writing would lead me. I’m learning more now about the silent movie industry, aviation, race car driving and new phone technology. (Look for the new Reginald Denny book.)

So I’ve left my OG phone behind (now that I can afford an upgrade). I’m working hard on a new book about a TV sitcom that I loved and I’m looking way back into those yesteryears when you had to read what was on the screen. Which somehow seems to meld in to what we are doing today. Reading our screens. Anybody out there remember telephone party lines? Wishing you all a bunch of good Holiday Surprises!

Thanx, for stopping by and I’ll see you in the funny pages! (I don’t know what that means but my mom used to say it).

 

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