I Stopped the Process

For those new to my blog and to refresh the memory of long time followers, I am posting a few pictures of Eddie’s entertainment life over the years. Eddie Green was my father. He died in 1950. Born in 1891. Over the years Eddie rose from poverty to prominence due to hard work, determination, talent and love for his fellow man. Eddie learned what was necessary to progress in his chosen field, starting out as a “Boy Magician”. He had a knack for comedy and he used his comedic talent to propel him along his way. And he was successful. He pulled himself up from poverty using his talents. From Vaudeville to Burlesque, to Broadway. From early radio and television to becoming the head of his own movie production studio, producing, directing, writing and starring in his own all-black cast films. From appearing in radio productions for the troops during WWII to becoming a major character on one of America’s best loved radio programs “Duffy’s Tavern“, while opening his third movie and television production studio.

While touring as a “Boy Magician” over the years Eddie added songwriting to his list of accomplishments. He wrote “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which he used in 1919 when he took his own show on tour. The show included singing, dancing girls and comedy. While in St. Louis with this show he saw an ad in the local Variety paper for a comic. Eddie sent an outstanding reply and was invited to become a part of a vaudeville show in New York. His performances here and in Burlesque working at the 125th Apollo, earned him inclusion into a hit Broadway musical Hot Chocolates by 1929.

 

 

In 1929, not only was he a part of the ensemble of Hot Chocolates, Eddie wrote all of the comedic skits for this show. His name is listed twice. The show ran for 219 performances. Two of the songs would go on to be recorded, one “Big Business” was recorded by Victor Records, and “Sending A Wire”. Sending A Wire would also be made into a Vitaphone short by Warner Bros.

 

 

 

Eventually, Eddie began appearing on the radio. Rudy Vallee introduced him to the radio audience, inviting him over and over due to audience reaction, and during the summer of 1937 Eddie was asked to join Louis Armstrong as co-hosts of the Fleischmann’s Yeast hour while Rudy was on vacation. Eddie had also appeared for a number of weeks as the featured attraction on the Sunday evening NBC “Echoes of New York” program. During the 30’s Eddie also had a “first”. He appeared as one of the very first two Black men on an RCA/NBC television broadcast-but I’m saving this for another post.

Eddie went on to become a filmmaker in 1939 making four movies Dress Rehearsal, What Goes Up, Comes Midnight and One Round Jones among other endeavors. In 1941 he joined the cast of Duffy’s Tavern where he became famous as one of America’s most beloved comedians.

When I started this blog Eddie had almost been completely forgotten. Almost. Despite his many accomplishments in the entertainment world and the business world, despite the many friends he made and how widely he became known, beside myself, there were not a lot of people remembering that old comic, Eddie Green. I have written a biography about my father. (Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer, get it on Amazon). Since I wrote the book I have had someone tell me that I stopped the process of my father being erased from history. Wow.

I mainly started the project to show my young (at the time) grandson what a person could do regardless of the obstacles life throws at us. But as I researched my father’s life I realized that his story, so full of inspirational stories, could help so many people. That his story as a Black man born in 1891 could prove to be motivational to Black people for sure, but also to anyone who feels that the odds are against them. Maybe you have someone in your family you could write about. Or you just have some inspirational stories you think might be of help  to others if they only knew about them.  You too can stop the process of someone being erased from history.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

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

 

Advertisement

Alike – Dying in Service of Our Country

This photo absolutely suits my mood in regard to Memorial Day. I would probably rather “celebrate” Veteran’s Day seeing as I intended to write a post about my father, Eddie Green, and his experience as an African American who enlisted in WWI. Then it dawned on me that Eddie was not one who died in service. I was going to talk about how Eddie was working in a theater in Philadelphia before winding up at a Chicago Training Camp. I wanted to add information about how African Americans had to tear off a piece of their Registration Card to signify their race. After I realized I needed to re-direct my idea for a post, I stumbled across an article in the Pennsylvania York Daily Record newspaper. The article was posted on this date May 27, 2018 earlier in the morning. So I have chosen to share this information instead, as it will do nicely to get my point across.

York County Afro-American veteran George A. Wood was killed in action September 29th 1918 during World War I. Private First-Class Wood is honored on the bronze memorial tablets flanking Gate 4 at the York Fairgrounds. His surname is incorrectly spelled “Woods” among the 197 York Countians honored on the World War I panels, fronting four columns, at the York County Administration Center, located at 28 East Market Street in York, PA. (Stephen H. Smith, York Daily Record, May 27, 2018.)

It seems to me that we don’t really hear enough about our Black soldiers who died defending this country. But while they were serving we sure made it clear they were not White. Even though they too died. Has anything changed?

Thanx, for stopping by.

And thank you Stephen H. Smith; York Daily Record for allowing sharing of your research efforts.

We Are, Each One, Absolutely Unique

Ralph Wilhelm Cooper, 1908-1992. Actor, dancer, screen writer, emcee, choreographer (Shirley Temple-Poor Little Rich Girl). Ralph Cooper spent five years acting and directing in Hollywood and while there folks began calling him the “Dark Gable” because of his “handsome, rugged good looks and his charm and wit”. * I would like to say instead of giving him a nickname that reminds people of a White man, can we just say that this man was Ralph Cooper, a handsome, charming Black man who was very active in the world of entertainment in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. And beyond.

 

Like my father, Eddie Green, Cooper was also a filmmaker. Meaning he wrote, directed and starred in his own movies. In the late 1930s he was making movies during Oscar Micheaux’s filmmaking time (Micheaux began making films in 1915). He wrote, directed, produced or starred in at least fifteen films. My father began making his films in 1939, right about the time Cooper left filmmaking. In 1937, Cooper formed Million Dollar Productions with black actor George Randol and white producers Harry Popkin and his brother Leo Popkin to produce race films.

And that’s not all. Ralph Cooper was a founder and emcee of the legendary Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre in 1935. ** He worked as a human rights arbitrator under New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the ’60s. And in 1984 was a consultant on the movie The Cotton Club, with Gregory Hines and Richard Gere.

Ralph and my father appeared on the same bill during those early days; their names are kind of close to the bottom of the ad as they had not “blown up” yet. But they must have met backstage. Maybe Eddie talked to him about making movies someday. Both Eddie and Ralph were successful in their chosen pursuits. Through their own talent and hard work. When it was truly a struggle for a Black man to get ahead. I salute my father and Ralph Cooper and their own special uniqueness in bringing a little entertainment into the lives of others.

 

 

 

I am looking forward to using my blog as a place to be a cheerleader for the trailblazers who deserve to be remembered for their unique contributions to Life.

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

*MsLadySoul  **Margot Miflin, 1990

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

Sitting While Black

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (December 25, 1745 – June 10, 1799) was a champion fencer, classical composer, virtuoso violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris. Born in Guadeloupe, he was the son of George Bologne de Saint-Georges, a wealthy planter, and Nanon, his African slave. During the French Revolution, Saint-Georges was colonel of the Légion St.-Georges, the first all-black regiment in Europe, fighting on the side of the Republic. Today the Chevalier de Saint-Georges is best remembered as the first classical composer of African ancestry.

How many people know about this man. In regard to classical music somehow I learned about Mozart, Beethoven, (bugs bunny cartoons, Disney movies, documentaries.) But not this guy. Some scholars call him the Black Mozart, except that he was born 10 years before Mozart and after they met Mozart was said to have echoed a few of Joseph’s bars.

When I went to school I learned a lot about White inventors, musicians (we sang Oklahoma in Glee Club), presidents, television stars. But very little about important Blacks. Well, there was George Washington Carver. But all we learned was that he had something to do with peanuts. We did not learn about the numerous honors he won for his work or that in an era of very high racial polarization, his fame reached beyond the black community.

Seems we heard a lot about Nat Turner though, the guy who led that slave rebellion. According to some scholars, the stereotype of African Americans males as criminals was first constructed as a tool to “discipline” and control slaves during the time of slavery in the United States. More recently , a study examining the news reports from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today covering the effects of Hurricane Katrina showed that in 80% of the time black evacuees were portrayed in photographs, the word “looting” was mentioned in the captions, suggesting that the black evacuees were criminals. In America we have had the good actions of White people and the emphasis on bad actions of Blacks ingrained into our psyche. Blacks were not celebrated in our education. So I don’t believe in unconscious bias. That we make snap judgments about people and situations based on who we are, how we live, and how we were raised, yes, but it’s not unconscious.  I believe we act from ingrained teachings.

The idea that Black men are dangerous exists today. Still. Sitting While Black is the hashtag on Twitter.

It’s sad that this is happening in 2018. My father lived during the early 1900s when Blacks were still being lynched in large numbers. One of the bloodiest race riots in the nation’s history took place in East St. Louis. A Congressional committee reported that 40 to 200 people were killed, hundreds more injured, and 6,000 driven from their home. Fifty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1920. Eddie was in St. Louis in 1919-1920. He performed at the Booker Washington Theatre (a Black vaudeville house) with his Deluxe Players, he had been called back by popular demand. In those days he sang his own songs, danced and told “side-splitting” jokes. I’m sure he saw his share of horrors.

By the 1940s Eddie was appearing in the radio program Duffy’s Tavern. Things in America had progressed enough that The Library of Congress placed Duffy’s Tavern on the Honor Role of Race Relations, because they did not have Eddie resort to stereotypical “Black” language. They said “Green clicks as a waiter, not because he’s a Negro, but because he’s a good comedian.” So, it is clear in this instance that changing how Blacks were treated was a priority.

I wonder what he would think about two Black men being arrested because they were sitting in a Starbucks and asked to use the restroom but didn’t buy anything and wouldn’t leave because they were waiting for a third party. I mean we have not gone back to lynching but it certainly seems that we have at least gone back to the 50s or 60s. Some people today still see Black men as trouble-makers. I don’t think that providing unconscious bias training is going to change that mind set. I think something has to change within the person. Maybe as more time goes by people will be able to just see each other as fellow human beings, floating around in space on a friggin’ planet.

Hey, thank you so much for stopping by. Peace and Love

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

 

Funny & Fun

My father liked two things for sure: Pretty women and he liked being happy. From the first time he went out on the road with his first song in 1919, through his movie making days in 1939, ’40 and ’41 his ensemble included chorus girls and comedy. He even incorporated dancing girls, tap dancers, singers and comedic skits in his last 1949 movie that depicted Blacks and how they dealt with life after the Atom Bomb. For those new to this blog you can see his last movie on YouTube-it’s titled Mr. Adam’s Bomb. A young lady (Margaret Westfield)  sings a song called “You can Always Believe Your Heart” which Eddie wrote. I am still looking for information on Ms. Westfield.

Eddie became a household name as Eddie, the waiter in the radio program Duffy’s Tavern, during the last ten years of his life. Everyone loved Eddie. February is Black History Month. I am going to inundate social media with “fun Eddie stuff”. I want to get him as much exposure as possible. I want to get as many people as I can to experience Eddie’s good nature and for them to get a few laughs as well. I think our world could use uplifting right now. Eddie’s life story is truly inspiring. I will also be pushing the biography I have written about him, “Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer“, it’s much more fun that that “other” book everyone is talking about these days.

In this still from Eddie’s 4th movie you can see that Eddie (in the striped shirt) liked being silly (which is why, I am sure I like silly jokes: What kind of flower is that on your face? Tulips!!! Hahahahaha!) There were even chorus girls in this movie.

So here’s to a Funny February.

And thanx, for stopping by.

 

Norma and Eddie Green Name Their New Daughter

NORMA and EDDIE  choose the name “ELVA” for their new daughter. Elva Green. This was of course a few years ago. Well, more than a few. I got the idea for this post because Kanye and Kim are trending on twitter because of their newest child’s name. I like to show my blog’s younger readers that famous couples have been trending in the news for years. Readers of today’s news have come up with all sorts of reasons K and K chose the name that they did for their child. And this reminded me that most of my life I have wondered how my father chose my name. Despite the fact that my name contains only 4 letters, people have mispronounced it always. Evelyn, Eva, Elvis, Alva, Elba. When I was a kid, the other kids called me Greenie stickum caps (I think some of you older folks might remember those).

When my father was still alive, mom would put me in our Buick and drive me to see the street sign that read Elva Ave. It was located in Compton, California. I remembered looking at the sign out of the passenger window. So I thought I was named after that street for a long while. As an adult I wondered why that name was chosen for a street in Compton. In my lifetime I have met less than ten women named Elva. And none of them were Black. There were a lot of Black people in Compton when I was a child. I researched a bit and discovered Elva has roots in Scandinavia-I think it means “running brook”. Compton was named after a settler who travelled from Pittsylvania, Va., where Scot and Irish had settled.

Vallone D’Elva

Then I learned there was a village in Italy called Elva. I don’t know that Eddie had ever gone to Italy, but my mom’s father was Italian, so maybe Eddie got the name from my maternal grandfather, Joe. I never heard my mother mention that Eddie had ever met her Italian father because there were family “issues” and Joe was not “around”. Anyhow, they are all gone now. But maybe I’m named after a village in Italy.

 

 

 

Or maybe my name is from the French “elle va” meaning “She Goes”. If I ever get the money I fully intend to go to the South of France. Eddie actually took my mom to Paris. Or maybe Eddie thought of me as an Elf. In the Irish language Elva means Elfin. Eddie did appear on stage once in a one-man play called “Tam O’Shanter” by Scottish poet Robert Burns. And once I did win a St. Patrick’s Day writing contest.

Well, here is the announcement in the newspaper about me and my name and my proud daddy. And my mom, the former Norma Amato. The name my father gave me has taken me around the world. I am proud of my name as I am sure Kim and Kanye’s daughter will be of her name.

 

 

Hey, thanks, for stopping by. KCB

Check out my book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. Found on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, Book Soup and Walmart.

 

 

 

Eddie Green, “Moms” Mabley, “Dark” Gable, Yuletide at the Apollo

Christmas Show-Eddie Green, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, “Pigmeat”, James Baskette and Ralph Cooper, emcee

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and as my mom used to say, a happy 4th of July to you all from my blog celebrating my father, Eddie Green, Comedian, composer, filmmaker, entrepreneur and a good man.

I have posted this article from a 1930s newspaper simply because I waited till the last minute and I just happened to have the article because a Facebook friend found it and sent it to me. So cool! The one thing I like about these articles is that when I research the other people that are mentioned I acquire new knowledge. I’ve learned that sometimes one has to look extra hard in order to find information on these old time entertainers. As you can see my father, Eddie Green performed in this show along with other great Black entertainers of the day. I’ve added pics of Jackie “Moms” Mabley and Ralph Cooper further down.

Articles like this one here are only to be found in the Black newspapers of the day-once I found out what those were all I needed was the time and patience to go through the archives. This article happens to mention the same program as the first article. The first article mentions a Clarence Robinson and his “Christmas Carols” show. I wanted to get some information about these folks before I typed this post. Well, typing in Clarence’s name into the internet to get some background on him got me nada. So I typed in “Apollo”.

Hurtig&Seamons  was purchased in 1933 by Sidney Cohen,  and after lavish renovations it re-opened as the “Apollo Theater” on January 16, 1934, catering to the black community of Harlem, previously it had been a whites-only venue. The internet info on the Apollo stated that on February 14, 1934, the first major star to appear at the Apollo was jazz singer and Broadway star Adelaide Hall in Clarence Robinson’s production Chocolate Soldiers, which featured Sam Wooding’s Orchestra. The show ran for a limited engagement and was highly praised by the press, which helped establish the Apollo’s reputation. Well, there you go.

You’ll notice that Eddie was on this same bill with Jackie “Moms” Mabley. I discovered Moms Mabley when I was about sixteen. She cracked me up. Turns out that at the height of her career, she was earning US$10,000 a week at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. One of her regular themes was a romantic interest in handsome young men rather than old “washed-up geezers”, and she got away with it courtesy of her stage persona, where she appeared as a toothless, bedraggled woman in a house dress and floppy hat. I heard her talk about “George” and that white suit “I bought you”. She was too funny. And my father had once been on the stage with her. Remarkable.

 

And this is Ralph Cooper, the originator and master of ceremonies of Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Ralph, also known as “The Dark Gable” (so handsome) was an American actor, screenwriter, dancer and choreographer. Starred in “The Duke is Tops with Lena Horne” in 1938. Ralph was also a producer and a director and starred in at least ten movies. He was working in this capacity just ahead of Eddie who started his movie making career in 1939. Mr. Cooper was with us until 1992. I would have loved to have met him.

According to Wikipedia (which I love), although the theatre concentrated on showcasing African American acts, it also presented White acts such as swing bandleaders Harry James, Woody Herman and Charlie Barnett during the swing era, and, later, jazz greats Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz and Buddy Rich. Also, Jimi Hendrix won the first place prize in an amateur musician contest at the Apollo in 1964. And even these greats performed at the Apollo:  James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, and so many more.

Just one big happy family. Happy, happy Holidays everyone!!

And thanks, for stopping by.

Last minute gift: https://bearmanormedia.selz.com/item/eddie-green-ebook

 

Christmas 1939 Must Have Been Merry

On September 10, 1942 Eddie Green, my father, opened a dramatic training school in this building at 2352 Seventh Avenue, New York City. The school, called Sepia Artists offered services and classes for both amateurs and professionals. The Pittsburgh-Courier newspaper referred to Eddie in it’s article about the school as a comedian of radio and stage fame. I think it was a short-lived endeavor because in 1943 Eddie filed for bankruptcy. Before this from 1939 through 1941 Eddie was making movies and planning plans, so he had some money.

 

Chauncey Northern

In fact, there must have been enough money to hire this gentleman, Chauncey Northern. According to an article just before Christmas of 1939, Mr. Northern a recognized voice specialist and coach joined Eddie’s motion picture company as head of it’s music department. In this capacity he would have charge of  the arranging of voices for Eddie’s Sepia-Art Pictures choir which would be a permanent feature of the organization, New York Age, December 23, 1939. The article goes on to say that Mr. Northern’s studio was located in Carnegie Hall and that his studio was the mecca of many of the great artists of today.

In researching Chauncey Northern I learned that he was one of the first black opera singers (a tenor) to appear on the Italian stage, making his debut in the 1920’s at the Teatro Politeana in Naples and that he studied at the Juliard School of Music. I did not spend much time trying to find info on Mr. Northern while I was writing the book about my father, but today while trying to come up with a blog post I decided to dig a little further.

it’s amazing what can be found if you are really paying attention. I learned that in 1924 he wrote the music for the University of Hampton’s Alma Mater, one of the top historically black universities in the world.

An interesting fact is that this tree, The Emancipation Oak, stands near the entrance of the Hampton University campus and is a lasting symbol of the university’s rich heritage and perseverance. The peaceful shade of the young oak served as the first classroom for newly freed men and women, eager for an education. Mrs. Mary Peake, daughter of a freed colored woman and a Frenchman, conducted the first lessons taught under the oak located on the University’s campus. Classes continued with the The Butler School, which was constructed in 1863 next to the oak. One day in 1863, the members of the Virginia Peninsula’s black community gathered to hear a prayer answered. The Emancipation Oak was the site of the first Southern reading of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, an act which accelerated the demand for African-American education. And Chauncey Northern was a part of this history. And Eddie was a part of his history. And I am a part of their history. Awesome.

After Mr, Northern’s debut in Naples, he remained in Europe until 1937, when he returned to the United States and established the Northern Vocal Arts School at Carnegie Hall, where he taught until his death in 1992. The main hall of Carnegie Hall was home to the performances of the New York Philharmonic from 1892 until 1962. The building also contains the Carnegie Hall Archives, established in 1986, and the Rose Museum, which opened in 1991. Until 2009 studios above the Hall contained working spaces for artists in the performing and graphic arts including music, drama, dance, as well as architects, playwrights, literary agents, photographers and painters. The spaces were unusual in being purpose-designed for artistic work, with very high ceilings, skylights and large windows for natural light.  In 1906 both Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington spoke here. Chauncey Northern had his studio here!

Today a person has to dig to find out information on Mr. Northern, just like I had to dig to get my information on Eddie, even though he was a major player in entertainment. Most of the information of pioneering Black people can only be found in Black newspaper archives. However, I did find a Facebook page for a woman who knew Mr. Northern and who is still active today. Hopefully she will “friend” me. If not, she has a web site. History is fascinating. I love research. I can go back in time to 1939 and I can travel the world, visit universities and meet new people right here with my laptop.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Info on Chauncey Northern and Carnegie Hall courtesy of the World Wide Web

For the Biography of Eddie Green Visit t hen click “Shop Now”: https://www.facebook.com/elvagreenbookpage/

 

 

Eddie Would Have Loved the World Wide Web

An internet map. If my father was alive today he would be over the moon about the internet. According to the old Los Angeles California Eagle newspaper Eddie said it “was thrilling to talk to people all over the world”, and he said this way back in 1946 when asked about his hobby ham radio.

 

This is an example of a ham radio set-up. Eddie had one in our basement on 2nd Avenue in Los Angeles in the 40s. When Eddie and my mom “motored” across the U.S. Eddie could also broadcast from his automobile. Mom said that he spent a lot of time in that basement talking to people from all walks of life. Eddie’s call letters were W2AKM. He got his ham radio license in 1925. A newspaper reporter saw his set-up at home and called it a private radio station!

With the advent of the Radio Act of 1912, the first Amateur Radio License was issued. Applicants were required to demonstrate technical expertise in adjusting and operating equipment, and a knowledge of International Conventions and US laws . The code requirement was ability to transmit and receive in the Continental Morse at least 10 words per minute and recognize important signal usage of the day (distress and “keep out” signals). By 1936 Eddie was one of 51,000 amateur ham radio operators.

By 1939 Eddie had a ham radio set-up at this theater, the Broadhurst on 44th Street in New York where he was performing as KoKo, The High Executioneer in Mike Todd’s Hot Mikado, as well as a set-up in his apartment at 120 W. 138th Street in New York (W2AKM—Edward Green, 120 W. 138 St., N. Y. City. Radio Amateur Call Book Magazine). During this same time the 1939 World’s Fair was happening and Eddie spent a lot of time commuting between Harlem and Flushing Meadows just so he could spend time at the communications exhibits. I read that he had been cited by the government for his work with ham radio, and had written a few articles, but I could not find any actual corroboration.

Eddie continued this hobby until his passing in 1950. By the time he was doing Amos n Andy shows he would communicate with Freeman Gosden (Amos) in Beverly Hills, another ham operator, with engineers at NBC and with others around the country. I imagine he would be happy to know that according to an estimate made in 2011 by the American Radio Relay League, two million people throughout the world are regularly involved with amateur radio. This is not a good picture but I put it in because Eddie’s call letters for his station are the teeny pin on his lapel in the bottom right hand corner.

The internet would blow him away.

Thanks, for stopping by. And don’t forget to “Like” my page mentioned below.

https://www.facebook.com/elvagreenbookpage/

 

 

GIVING THANKS TO YOU!!

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

I WISH FRIENDS, FAMILY, FOLLOWERS, VISITORS AND ALL THOSE YOU LOVE A HAPPY AND SAFE THANKSGIVING DAY. I AM THANKFUL THAT THIS BLOG CONTINUES TO ATTRACT ATTENTION, ESPECIALLY AS I BEGAN AS A NEWBIE WITH MY FIRST EVER LAPTOP THAT I GOT FOR A STEAL PRICEWISE. I KNOW THIS WAS MEANT TO HAPPEN NOT JUST TO SHARE MY WRITING JOURNEY BUT BECAUSE I HAVE MET SO MANY WONDERFUL PEOPLE. HAVE FUN!

ELVA