Laughter is SO Much Better

Too tired of US politics. Going to talk about my father. Hello good people. Maybe I would have done a blog about something scary for Halloween, but I had my trick yesterday-someone egged my car. Right in front of my abode. The freaks were out last night! You ever had to clean egg off of your car? I didn’t even get angry. Another thing that is just not worth the energy. Focusing on my father feels good to my soul, so I post a lot on Social Media about Eddie. Then I forget what I put online. Someone found this photo I posted with an article about 2 years ago on Twitter and they Retweeted it!. They liked it that much. And that made me feel good. It really made me LOL.

Eddie Green & Co in Sending A Wire

In 1929 Eddie was in a musical called “Hot Chocolates”. He wrote a couple of songs and he wrote the comedy sketches. One sketch was “Sending a Wire”. A newspaper article read: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said “The whole town is talking about Eddie Green, prime colored comic, who will put on one of the funniest skits on the stage. He will dash from the Hudson Theater immediately after the final curtain to the National Broadcasting Company where he will re-enact his side-splitting “Telegraph Office” skit for Commander Byrd and his crew.” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle July 18, 1929).

Seeing this photo again made me wonder why a skit about a telegraph office would be funny. Eddie was trying to send the wire and James Baskette was the clerk. Sending a telegraph or “wire” was the thing in 1929, it was fast and you could communicate with people across the world. It led to the telephone, the fax machine and now the internet, losing favor after the 1929 stock market crash. However Eddie kept up with the times in his comedic sketches, and the telegraph would have been of interest to him as he was already a ham radio operator (had his own station) and he loved to communicate with people all over the world. The internet would have been right up his alley.

Well, Warner Bros. certainly liked the sketch as they produced a film for their Vitaphone Varieties series. The skit from “Connie’s Hot Chocolates”, “Sending A Wire”, became a Warner Brother’s Vitaphone film that was said to be the funniest Vitaphone comedy act “which has yet been produced”, and that it “kept thousands shaking with laughter.” The film is registered in the Library of Congress as Sending A Wire, Eddie Green and Co. (Warner Bros. (as The Vitaphone Corporation) 1929 Sending a Wire © September 28, 1929 Murray Roth (director); Eddie Green with Jimmy Baskett & (NYC) (vitaphone varieties – Cinematop). There is just the one film in existence and I will probably never get to view it, but just knowing it exists helps me know my father as an entertainer.

This was all so long ago. Even before my mother met my father. As a matter of fact she was only six in 1929. Eddie was 30 years older. Chronicling my father’s life has been deeply satisfying. I know my own positivity comes through Eddie. (My inner sarcasm comes from Mom.) My ability to laugh out loud comes through him. I used to tell her I was funny because Eddie was (she didn’t think I was funny). It’s good to be able to keep Eddie’s name and face in the fore of people’s memories. I feel much better now. I love you, Eddie.

Friends and family, stay safe, love each other and thanks, for stopping by. 🙂

America! Relax.

Every now and then I get the urge to SAY something (my daughter would attest to that). Today I want to reassure my fellow Americans that the Post Office is a lasting establishment. A true American entity. Since its inception we have had mail delivery continuously six days a week. Didn’t I learn about the pony express in grammar school? As a child I thought those pony express riders were heroes.  The mail got through no matter what. The phrase “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”, was modified over time to refer to postal service workers, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from their appointed rounds”. I mean, for heaven’s sake, Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General. The organizing of the Post Office was signed into law by President George Washington on February 20, 1792! This was major.

A few years later we gained The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970-Here is the first paragraph: “The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people. The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities. The costs of establishing and maintaining the Postal Service shall not be apportioned to impair the overall value of such service to the people.” We have since updated the USPS logo. Eagles are powerful, stately, determined and undeniably American, which reflects the spirit of the Postal Service and its employees.

The Marvelettes waited patiently for their mailman everyday. Or should I say postman. Wait, oh yea, wait a minute Mr. Postman-What a hit that was. Mail delivery was essential to living life. Still is. To so many people. People waiting for love letters or prescriptions. People waiting for hospital supplies. Checks. At one point Saturday delivery was almost cancelled, however, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, passed reversing the cuts to Saturday delivery.

And how many of you remember Mr. McFeely? Speedy Delivery!! He stopped by Mr. Rogers place every day. He was always on time and always had a smile on his face. He was so much fun. One of the most popular characters on the show. Mr. McFeeley would sometimes bring videos to show children how macaroni or plastic combs were made. I always looked forward to mail delivery when I watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Today I read that our postal system is by geography and volume the globe’s largest postal system, delivering 47% of the world’s mail. Nothing since the pony express has brought the United States Postal Service to a halt. Yet according to an article I read today by Bill Moyers, “citizens tremble” when they think of voting by mail as opposed to going outside and voting in person. Because of one man.

In my opinion, one man does not hold all of the power. Society may act as though they believe one man can disrupt a complete American system which might be what would cause people to tremble. But it’s not true. I believe today’s Post Office “scandal” is being used as a way to derail the American public’s thinking process. To confuse.

I say, relax. Don’t be skeered. Thank your mailman or mailwoman. They are a part of a great institution. I should know, I used to be a mail sorter.

Fun Fact: My father, Eddie Green, once got in trouble with the Post Office, according to my mom. Eddie would dress my mom’s female friends in long scarves, take pictures and send them on postcards to men who ordered them through magazines. One of the photos showed a bit too much and Eddie became a friend of the postal inspector. (Not really, he had to pay a substantial fine.) I wonder if he got his idea from this Mata Hari postcard?

 

 

Thanx, for stopping by, KCB

But Was it Funny?

eddies laugh jamboree - green goodHello out there! What a lucky girl am I. I have started researching a third book. Just writing those words down makes me have to stop and ponder. I’ve never considered writing 3 books. Just the one-about my father- a rags-to-riches biography about the legendary Eddie Green, Old Time Radio icon (Duffy’s Tavern once a week radio show and others), composer, filmmaker, singer, dancer magician, TV star. A Black American who made it big despite the travails of Blacks in the early 1900s.

I never thought I would write a second book about a 70s TV sitcom, The Jeffersons, which I am working on finishing as I begin work on my new book about another 70s TV sitcom, Maude. Remarkable.

The first choice was mine, the next 2 were my publisher’s idea. Imagine that. And, it’s been a blast. I love research. I love reading. I started reading when I was four years old. My father left me a set of classics and a set of encyclopedias. I love words. Also, I have met the nicest people, period.

What these books have in common is that they are about Comedians and comedy. My father was into producing, he owned a string of restaurants, he wrote music, but he was first and foremost a comedian, he made his fame as Eddie the waiter, on the Duffy’s Tavern radio program in the 40s. The TV programs, The Jeffersons and Maude were comedic, while managing to focus on social controversial issues, such as abortion, politics and racism. But they made people laugh.

I was struck by a thought one day (probably because of the civil unrest these days) that most of the writers on each of these shows were White. Even on the almost all Black show The Jeffersons. One of the White writers on the Jeffersons was once asked by a Black person how he, a White man, could write for Black people. Basically his answer was a question: Did you laugh?

duffyscastonstageDuffy’s Tavern was on the air for ten years. It was funny. Especially Eddie the waiter’s lines. Apart from a very few, the weekly guests were White. The cast was White. The announcer was White. Eddie was the only Black cast member on that show. And he was hilarious.

The Jeffersons had very few Black writers. But the show was funny. It ran from 1975-1985.

I thought Maude was funny. Most of the writers were White. And I’m Black.

I think it sucks that Black writers, good Black writers, have to work at getting into script writing. Or that when they do get in, the public does not hear about it. I’ve spoken with a Black writer that wrote for a White TV show (had one Black cast member that I can think of) and that TV show made a mint for everybody thanks to that Black writer. Because people thought it was funny.

Maybe its just about being funny.

7109066004r (2)My father made a movie titled Mr. Adam’s Bomb (1949).  His idea was to show the world how regular every day Black people reacted to the use of the Atom Bomb. It was a horrible episode in our country. Eddie, as an ex vaudevillian and as a comedian chose to include humor and singing and dancing as in this movie as he had in his first four movies.

From the reviews I have read over the past ten years, some Black people don’t get it. They don’t get the dancing. The audience singing. And of course the comedy is way old time. But it was the only way Eddie knew to express himself as an entertainer. A Black comedic filmmaker, who liked using chorus girls in his movies, taking on the aftermath of the Atom Bomb through his people for his people and by his people.  But like I said above, some Black people today don’t get a Black man’s sense of humor from 1949. Eddie always wanted to look at the “up” side of life.

Anywho, maybe it doesn’t matter the color of the comedy writer. Maybe it’s just about being funny. Or silly. Some of the Walter and Maude lines cracked me up. Florence playing a old timey Black maid and shouting “Oh lawd” and throwing her hands up was too funny. Eddie in Duffy’s Tavern laughing out loud because someone called to make a reservation was hilarious.

The bobsSchillerandWeiskophNow here’s a Fun fact: Mr. Bob Schiller and Mr. Bob Weiskoph (both gone now) wrote for Maude. The two Bobs also wrote for Duffy’s Tavern and probably knew my father. I love their picture.

I hope you can find something to make you laugh out loud or to make you smile.

Thanks, for stopping by.

 

 

 

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

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

 

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.

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.

🙂

 

 

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.