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.

Awesome Women-Then and Always

Marla Gibbs

Hey there! As James Brown would say “I’m back!”. Not that I’ve gone anywhere, just haven’t posted lately. I have discovered that writing a second book is not as easy as my first book was. My expectations were not as high-I was simply writing a book that could possibly provide inspiration and encouragement. Just a little book. But this second book is going to be about a beloved 70s and 80s tv sitcom with moving stars and everything. Will I do it justice? (Faint hint of tears, right now!) So instead of staying at my laptop I go to the thrift store. Or the market. Or I take a nap. And then another day has passed. And my online postings dwindle. So, I am back and I am starting with this beautiful picture of Marla Gibbs because she has a trophy in her hands. I am hoping to get a quote or two or three from Ms. Gibbs as she was such a major part of the sitcom I will be writing about. The Jeffersons was a show that ran from 1975 until 1985 and can probably still be seen somewhere in re-runs. A top ten show for many years. (Do you know some folks have never heard of this show, either they are too young, or from another country or just don’t watch tv.)

However, today I am writing about Marla Gibbs agent, Ms. Ernestine McClendon. I was watching an interview with Ms. Gibbs and I heard her mention her agent’s name. Ernestine McClendon was her agent when she auditioned for The Jeffersons. So, I looked up Ms. McClendon. There is not much information immediately available for this lady. The fact that she was an agent, and an actress, and had been  in a few movies in the 80s was about all I got, at first. I couldn’t even find a picture of her.

Ernestine McClendon was a Black woman. Born in 1918. I found out that not only had she been in three movies in the 80s and 90s, she had also appeared in the Schlitz Playhouse in 1952! I finally remembered my newspaper account and that’s when I found her picture. (it pays to be diligent) She had a leading role in a play around 1954 titled Anniversary Waltz (she is second from left).

In 1961 she was cast in A Raisin in the Sun. According to the local newspaper: “HYDE PARK. N.Y. August 29 to September 3 Only Mid-Hudson Area Production “A RAISIN IN THE SUN” with ERNESTINE McCLENDON RAYMOND ST. JACQUES. Ernestine McClendon plays the courageous Mama who tries to keep her family together. Miss McClendon received rave reviews for her performance of this role this summer. A noted actress, Miss McClendon appeared in New York in Alley of the Sunset and Member of the Wedding and on television in Lights Out, and The Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.”

Somewhat like my father, Eddie Green, Ms. McClendon was well-received as an actor but does not get a lot of online mention. Maybe because she stopped acting for awhile and became an Agent. But she was a successful Agent. Especially for her Black clients. She worked hard to get them into casting rooms. Then went back to acting! Ms. McClendon was acting until 1991 when she died. Maybe there just wasn’t someone to do a whole lot of research on Ms. McClendon.

To make a point that bothers me, I need to mention that Ann Sothern was also in that Schlitz Playhouse of Stars episode which was titled “Lady With a Will”. Ms. Sothern may be a bit more familiar to some of you. She certainly has more information listed online. Born in 1909 she too was in show business for many years. Worked on stage, radio, film and had her own television show. Her last film was Whales of August in 1987. She died in 2001. Maybe Ms. Sothern has a bigger presence online because she worked in television. There are a lot of pictures of Ann Sothern online also. Somebody took the time to take those pictures. She was pretty. Ernestine’s picture is not the best, but it looks like she was pretty, too.

Anyhow, it’s a good thing I like writing about those entertainers who had successful careers but kinda fell into obscurity.

One last thing, somehow we all seem to wind up crossing each others paths. Ms. Sothern died in Ketchum, Idaho. My father worked on Duffy’s Tavern with Ed Gardner. When I wrote my father’s biography I met Ed Gardner’s son and we became pen pals. He lived in Ketchum, Idaho. Ms. Sothern worked with Ernestine McClendon who knew Marla Gibbs. Awesome-sauce!!

Hey, thanx, for stopping by. 🙂

 

ACTORS: Remembering and Appreciating

Hello friends. The fact that I have begun the process of writing a book about The Jeffersons tv sitcom is beginning to make it clear just how diligent I am going to have to be in getting my facts straight. Somehow it seems a lot more involved than corroborating the information I learned about my father when writing his biography. In researching the actors and their participation in their various shows, I have found out that one person will say what they think things were like, some will say what they heard, and some will assume. Getting the actor’s stories in their own words is difficult, especially if those actors are no longer with us.

The three actors pictured, Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford and Mike Evans have all died. Sherman in 2012, Isabel in 2004 and Mike in 2006. Sharing this writing process here on WordPress is so important in helping me with this book-writing learning experience. I am not using this forum to write the book from the beginning but to have some kind of clarity of where I am going.

Today I decided to write about actor Mike Evans who played the character Lionel Jefferson, the son of the Bunker’s new Black neighbors. The Bunkers were the family from “All In The Family” or AITF, with Carroll O’Conner, as Archie and Jean Stapleton, as Edith. Mike Evans began portraying Lionel in this AITF in 1971 through 1975 before moving on up to “The Jeffersons”.

As a child, Mike was “short, and fat, and funny-looking”. His parents divorced when he was a baby. As a young man he used his talent for art by making sculptures out of clothes hangers and selling them to hippies in Hollywood. By 18 he had enrolled in City College and was studying Psychology, then switched to an Acting major. He learned one day that a studio was looking for young, Black actors and so he went to audition and eventually got the part of Lionel. The one downside to this was that his father had died 3 months earlier so Mike was not able to share this with him.

In 1975 AITF produced the spin-off The Jeffersons and Mike continued to play his character. But after one season, Mike left the sitcom. According to The Las Vegas Sun-TV Scene. Sunday, February 20, 1977: He left because he “wasn’t having a good time on the show.” He did, however, return for the sixth through the eighth season. Mike had married in 1976 and his marriage lasted until 2002 when his wife died. Mike would die of throat cancer in 2006.

There is such an upside to writing this type of non-fiction book. The actors, writers, producers that I am able to be in contact with are given a boost just knowing that people are actually interested in them as artists and still remember them. And the relatives of those who have left us are pleased, also. They’ve told me so, and I can hear it in their voices.

I thank you so much for stopping by and for “clicking” on my posts.

🙂

 

 

MOVIN’ ON IN

Well, unlike George and Weezy I’ve moved on out of my old too expensive place “in” to a cheaper place. And what a relief it is. I’ve had to go backwards to move forward. Meaning I now have a bit more money to work with and I can be more comfortable while writing my second book and while I wait for my ship to come in. I’m sleeping with less stress as opposed to sleeping because of depression. And now I can focus on The Jeffersons. Getting back into doing research for a book helps balance me out.

When I started the process of interviewing folks for my book on the 1975-1985 tv sitcom The Jeffersons, I spoke with Mr. Norman Lear first. He talked about how he was influenced to produce a show like The Jeffersons by a few people who thought it would be a good idea to have a tv sitcom that portrayed affluent Black people who were coming up in the world as opposed to just struggling along, like the family from Good Times, so, he said “we moved on up”.

The Jeffersons theme song “Movin’ On Up” was written by Ja’Net DuBois and Jeff Barry. I did not know until recently that the theme song was sung by Ja’Net DuBois. Ms. DuBois, you may remember, played the part of Willona Woods from the tv sitcom Good Times (I know you remember her). Ms. DuBois began her acting career in the theater and went on to television and movie roles. She also dances. And has won an TV Land Image Award for her role in Good Times. (Frederick M. Brown-Getty Images)

 

Jeff Barry, the co-writer of “Movin’ On Up” is a Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee. He has co-written songs for  The Monkees, The Shangri-las, The Ronettes, and he co-wrote “River Deep, Mountain High” recorded by Tina Turner. Wow. He is also the recipient of the Ahmet Ertegün Award from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has a great online site, too. (Google Advanced Image Search)

 

One of my Facebook friends said she liked the episode that featured Sammy Davis, Jr. I did not see that one, didn’t even know he had been a guest. The episode was titled “What Makes Sammy Run”. It aired January 1, 1984. I wonder how I missed THAT one. Sammy even recorded the Theme Song. Let’s see if I can post it here:

 

Hey, thanx, for stopping by!

🙂