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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
Billed tor Two
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!!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
Hi there. When I started this blog at the end of 2014 it was to provide a platform for myself as an author. I was writing my first book. A book about my father, Eddie Green. I have since written the book, had it published and even won an award. As Eddie died when I was 3 years old, researching the book allowed me to become acquainted with him and his life in entertainment. What I have learned is that the writing of the book did not mean that I had all of Eddie’s story.
Once people read the book they started sending me new information about Eddie. At library presentations people came up and told me stories about Eddie. I’ve been introduced to people in the magic entertainment venue because Eddie started out as a magician, and I’ve learned more new stuff. So, I started researching again. In the book I mentioned that Eddie wrote and staged a play titled Playing The Numbers. Just a couple of lines because that was all the information I had. Two weeks ago while reading an old 1920s magazine article I discovered how Eddie was presented with this opportunity.
According to the article, Frank Schiffman, general manager at the time, of the Lafayette Theater, New York, decided to remodel. On June 4, 1925 the theater hardly knew itself when the doors were thrown open for the opening. A new carpet was laid In the lobby. The entire front was scoured, revealing forgotten beauties In the exterior. A new electric lobby display was installed, new flooring was laid on the stage and the Interior repainted. A brand new pipe organ was also installed.
It was decided that Inasmuch as the management was so closely associated with the Apollo Theater which had been so successfully operating for the past year, it was rather natural that a similar policy, somewhat modified, should be given a trial. 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 IS-minute performance that will consist of mutual numbers and burlesque comedy bits. The bits, however, would be revised by Eddie to conform to the special requirements of the neighborhood. the Lafayette Theater reopened Thursday, June 4, with a program of continuous motion pictures and vaudeville.*
7th Ave. At 132nd-St.
Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun. JUNE 4-5-6,7
WM. de MILLE’S (Cecil’s brother, btw) MEN and WOMEN Produced by Paramount AND A Big Vaudeville Bill Including PLAYING THE NUMBERS Written and Staged by EDDIE GREEN With Henrietta Lovelace, Grace Smith, Eugene Pugh, Lorenzo McLane and a Chorus of CREOLE VAMPS Matinees 15c & 25c Eves. 25c, 35cf 50c
Midnight Show Every Friday Performances continuous I p.m. to 12 midnight
THE MOST ELEGANT THEATRE IN HARLEM CATERING TO THE BEST COLORED PATRONAGE
So now I know a bit more of the particulars. Frank Schiffman was also the man who fell in love with Eddie’s first movie Dress Rehearsal and made a deal to debut the movie at the Apollo Theater in April of 1939.
I have also learned a bit more about the star of the vaudeville bit, Henrietta Lovelace (sometimes spelled Loveless). I have really had to dig to get information on this lady. Unfortunately, pulling up Black entertainers names from the early 1900s from the internet is not as easy as 1, 2, 3. However, I did find this in the New York Age:
“HENRIETTA LOVELESS Of Washington, D. C, who went to New York with Irvin Miller’s Blue Moon early this season, is now on tour with Chappelle and Stinette’s Kentucky Sue. They played the Grand Theater in Chicago last week. Miss Loveless graduated from Fisk University in 1921 and studied music and voice culture under Mrs. J. A. Robinson, an Oberlin graduate. She is the wife of Lorenzo McLane, noted comedian, of Montgomery, Ala.”
Then there is this: 1924 Elmore Theater “In McLane and Loveless you will see the greatest musical comedy team that has been played in Dixie. Their comedy is clean and of the highest grade; their songs are snappy and the latest numbers. To hear Henrietta Loveless sing “Mammy Loves Her Child,” will knock one cold”, says J. A. Jackson in the Billboard; and this one: Jack’s Cabaret, on Congress St., officially opened for the summer Saturday night, beginning its 20th year as a local entertainment place. Miss Henrietta Loveless, who sings in the Sophie Tucker style, leads this year’s floor show.
Henrietta Loveless was born on August 26, 1903 in Polk County, Georgia, USA. She was an actress, known for Murder in Harlem (1935) and The Spider’s Web (1927), an Oscar Micheaux film. She died in 1934. Just before she passed away she was the star of the newest Broadway hit Swing Out The News. It was said that “the vehicle gives vent to all that it’s name implies—satire and burlesque on all present day affairs, especially The New Deal Administration. It’s swift gay, exhilarating. crisp and modern in every way. Rex Ingram, and Henrietta Loveless, playing the father and mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt Tones, the Harlem new-born son, on relief under the F. D. R. New Deal Program really steal the show.”
The play itself was supposed to celebrate the fact that there was a change a’comin for the poor and destitute of the country. And the New Deal programs did indeed put millions of Americans immediately back to work or at least helped them to survive, but thousands of blacks were thrown out of work and replaced by whites on jobs where they were paid less than the NRA’s wage minimums because some white employers considered the NRA’s minimum wage “too much money for Negroes”. However, since Blacks felt the sting of the depression’s wrath even more severely than Whites they welcomed any help. (Wikipedia) So I am going to continue to “lift” Black entertainers who persevered but seem to have been erased from history.
My father worked his butt off in order to bring himself out of the poverty into which he was born. He was talented and “a regular guy”. He got along with people. Even though he lived in one of the most dangerous periods of American history for a Black person.
And, of course, I am going to mention the White people who have been instrumental in helping their Black fellows progress. My father was a ham operator and he spoke to people all over the world. I love that!!!
Thanx, for stopping by!!
*Radio Daily, 1925
Eddie Green, The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer
I’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.
I 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.
In 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!!
I 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.