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.

🙂

 

 

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What Makes U Smile?

What makes you smile before you even know you are smiling? It’s a nice thing to have happen. It’s nice to know that in a world where bad things happen, there exists happenings that make me smile, automatically. My lips turn up at the corners by themselves. For instance, a few days ago I got up, turned on my laptop and checked my mail.  There was a message from a friend in England. She started her message with “Hello Dearest Elva”. Since it was early morning I hadn’t had time to become grumpy so I was able to receive this greeting as I know it was meant. My friend is such a nice lady. Someone I met during my book writing journey. She is a good-hearted person. And I know she is genuine. And so it made me feel good to hear from her. It was like an “Awwww” moment. While reading the rest of her message  my lips began to smile of their own accord. She had found an article in a book that was a copy of correspondence my father, Eddie Green had, probably in 1949, with a man by the name of Joe Davis. The article stated:

Early in April, Davis heard from one of his old contacts from the 1920s, Eddie Green. Now managing Sepia Productions in Los Angeles, Green had written to offer a song: “I am sending you this record of ‘You Can Always Believe Your Heart.’ This was taken from the sound track of the picture Mr. Adam’s Bomb’ which I have just produced. This was a short subject produced by us primarily for the Colored theatres. I think I mentioned this to you when I was in New York last summer. This tune should be a great tune for the Mills Brothers or a quartette like them. I am sending it to you because I believe that you, being there in the big City, could reach them better than I can out here.”

Addressing him as Eddie, Davis wrote back immediately: “You know how it always gives me great pleasure to hear from you. As soon as I receive the record of ‘You Can Always Believe Your Heart,’ I will be only too pleased to go over it, and if you have any other songs, please send them to me, as I sure would like to publish a few things more by you.”

The thing is, I have been looking for the copyright of that song since 2014. Or a copy of the lyrics. Or something to prove that Eddie did indeed write the song. So, talk about pleased, I was so happy to see that my friend had actually found a letter from Eddie stating exactly what he did with the song he wrote for his movie! It was amazing to me. When I took my eyes off the page, I realized I had been smiling the whole time. That is such a blessing.

The song was sung in the movie by Margaret Westfield. I snapped this while watching the movie on Youtube from the Internet Archives. Unfortunately I have not been able yet to find anything on her. Though she had a lovely voice.

According to the internet “Joseph M. “Joe” Davis (October 6, 1896 – September 3, 1978[1]) was an American music producer, publisher and promoter in jazz, rhythm and blues and pop music. I might have found him had I known about him in the 70s.

I am in the process of gathering all of Eddie’s songs for possible re-release. Though it is a process. I have to verify copyright and also deal with folks who may claim copyright falsely. I don’t want Eddie’s work to stay hidden. I also want to have the paperwork for my grandson. Any money I make will be minimal-for me, it’s mainly about showcasing my father’s many talents. It’s about what I feel in my Heart. And what makes me Smile.

May you become more aware of what makes YOU smile.

Thanx so much, for stopping by. 🙂

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

“The Whole Town is Talking About Eddie Green”

According to today’s news, a new Black female movie director who has just finished directing Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle In Time”, has been chosen to direct Jack Kirby’s “New Gods” for Warner Bros. I have been following her rise, and when I read the words Warner Bros., my father flashed into my mind because he did a Warner Bros. Vitaphone Film.

The film is titled Sending A Wire. I felt that here is a connection (if somewhat remote) I can use to help make Eddie relevant to today. You know, Eddie was Black, he was a director, he worked with Warner Bros. and he was a Trailblazer.

I also communicate via Twitter. So I tweeted this information to the female director, yes, hoping for some type of acknowledgement. I am still in the process of promoting the biography I have written about my father and I am trying every way I can think of to get his story seen. I read somewhere that I should “do the same thing everyone else does, but do it differently”. Huh?? So I’m just doing what I think this advice is saying. I want to bring Eddie back to the fore of people’s minds. Because he was a trailblazer who was the best at what he did. His story can provide that pin-in-the-tush type of motivation for others.

Sending A Wire started out as a skit in a play titled Hot Chocolates and went on to become quite popular. From my book:

There was also “Sending A Wire”, written by Eddie, featuring Eddie and Jimmy Baskette, as a customer and clerk, respectively, in a telegraph office. The New York Age called Sending A Wire “riotously funny”. Evidently, Eddie was “knocking them ga-ga” in his telegraph skit at the Hudson.

James “Jimmie” Baskette, born February 16, 1904, would later become best known as “Uncle Remus” singing the song “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” in the 1946 Disney feature film, Song of the South.
Connie’s Hot Chocolates was hailed by critics and was touted as being fast, funny and frank. Hot Chocolates would go on to have 219 performances. The closing date was December 14, 1929.

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. New York Age February 1, 1930.

“Sending A Wire”, would go on to be shown at Loew’s Main St. New Rochelle Theater, December 7, 8 and 9, billed as “Eddie Green & Co.”, featured between the Hearst Metrotone News and Irene Franklin, and, at the Strand Theater on the same program with a Mickey Mouse cartoon called The Jazz Fool.

Okeh Records would record the song “Sending A Wire” with Eddie Green and Company (which can be found at the Library of Congress under Black Films: Paper Print Collection.)


At the time, Commander Richard E. Byrd, an America Naval Officer had started an expedition to the Antarctic, and had set up a base camp named “Little America” in the Antarctic on the Ross Ice Shelf. The Gannet Newspapers, which at the time included the Albany News and The Knickerbocker Press, decided to put together a stellar list of entertainers to perform over radio stations WGY and WHAM to be broadcast to “Little America”, for the enjoyment of the explorers. Commander Byrd would receive the short wave and the broadcast wave lengths to all broadcast listeners in the United States. Amsterdam Evening Recorder: “Tonight’s radio program for Commander Byrd-Radio entertainment, originating in three different cities will be broadcast by WGY and its short wave stations to Commander Richard Byrd and his men in Little America.

Eddie was added to the program specifically to do his “Telegraph Skit” which was said to be “one of the funniest skits on the stage.” Eddie would perform along with Ralph Rainger, the composer of “Moanin’ Low”, who was also invited. Some of the other stellar performers included Rudy Vallee, Fred Allen and comedian Ted Healy. At the end of the program letters and messages from the men’s families were read over the air.

Regarding Eddie Green’s performance on the radio program, 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).

“The whole town is talking about Eddie Green.” What a wonderful line to read about one’s father in the newspaper.

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer-BearManor Media publisher

1st All-Black Cast Movie on TV 1939 & My INDIE Award Nomination 2017

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First all-Black Cast movie on Television 1939
Eddie Green’s All-Colored Flicker Telecast By Nat’l Broadcasting Co (NBC). Well-Known Radio and Stage Comedian Adds Another Television “First” As Dress Rehearsal Shows.
NEW YORK, Dec. 21., 1939—History was made here Saturday afternoon, Dec. 16, when the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) picked the Sepia-Art Pictures Company’s featurette, Dress Rehearsal, featuring Eddie Green, to broadcast over their television station here in New York City.  Not only is Dress Rehearsal the first ever Negro motion picture to be broadcast by television but it is to its credit that this picture was written and produced in its entirety by Negroes.  Eddie Green was the first negro performer to appear on television.  This first official broadcast took place July 7, 1936. Mr. Green breaks precedent by starring in the first film of this kind to be sent over the air.    The Pittsburgh Courier Theatrical News section
Hi there. The above article from 1939 mentions Sepia Art Pictures Company which is the movie production company my father owned in what was then known as Palisades, New Jersey. Eddie was among the very few Black people to own his own movie production company. As it says in the article, back then his “flickers” were all-colored or Negro. In order to be up-to-date I used Black in the photo caption. No matter the word used Eddie was a Pioneer of the entertainmet industry. This particular movie opened at the Apollo Theater in New York and was immensely popular.  Hence the NBC television broadcast.
Like Eddie I have my own “First”.  I am now an INDIES Award Nominee for 2017. This deserves it’s own post, so stay tuned for more.
Thanx, for stopping by. KCB
You can find my book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer at http://www.bearmanormadia.com.

Fame, Friendship, and (Some) Fortune

martingramsblogspot

Hi. To those of you new to this blog, welcome. As this blog is meant to chronical my writing of a book about my father, I have to let you know that in the past 3 years I have written and published my book. You can of course read through prior posts to get an idea of the story, or you can start here. The picture I have posted is from the radio program that brought fame to my father Eddie Green.  Taken in the early 1940s  This is a shot from the radio program Duffy’s Tavern. The gentleman on the left is the creator and star of the show Ed Gardner (who is cast as Archie.) The gentleman on the right is my father, Eddie Green, who is cast opposite Ed as Eddie the waiter.

Duffy’s Tavern was one of the most popular radio programs during the years 1941-1950, after which time the program was switched to television. Eddie was a part of this show from the beginning until 1950 when he passed away. In 1941 when he was signed on to this program, Eddie had written a best selling song in 1917, plus twenty-nine more songs, he had performed on Broadway, owned Bar-b-que restaurants, appeared on television in the first ever RCA/NBC variety test broadcast to the public, worked with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Louis Armstrong and had written, directed, produced and starred in four all-Black cast movies. He was on the rode to fame.

In 1943 Eddie was fifty-one years old, and at the beginning of the year he filed for bankruptcy. He owed the government $445.00. Probably had something to do with the fact that Eddie had used his own money to start his Sepia Art Pictures movie company and  some of his actors had stared accepting roles with the White owned studios who could pay much more than Eddie. And I think a business deal went awry (meaning “a friend” absconded with some money.) You could still hear him on the weekly Duffy’s Tavern radio program and on other radio programs, too.

In 1945 the money started rolling in again when Paramount decided to make a movie version of Duffy’s Tavern using the regular radio crew in the movie. The movie was titled Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern, directed by Hal Walker, starring a number of Paramount stars such as, Bing Crosby, Alan Ladd, Dorothy Lamour, Barry Fitzgerald, Veronica Lake and William Bendix, to name a few. Oh, and also Ed Gardner, as Archie, Eddie Green, as Eddie the waiter, and Charles Cantor as Finnegan. The next few years saw Eddie’s continued rise to becoming a popular, beloved comedian.

By writing the biography of my father my hope was to bring his inspiring story out of the dark and into the light of awareness, as a way to provide propelling motivation to others. Eddie said that he found the best way to achieve success, is to find something you like to do and do it the best you know how.

One other thing, Eddie and Ed Gardner became very good friends over the years. Today a Green and a Gardner are still friends, me and Ed’s son. We’re pen pals!

Thanx, for stopping by. KCB

Photo courtesy of Martingramsblogspot and Ed Gardner, Jr.

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS: YESTERDAYUSA

yesterdayusa

In September of 2016 I was interviewed on Walden and Patricia’s Open House on the above named internet radio program. Patricia sent me an email after the interview and following is a portion:

QUOTE FROM PATRICIA (Walden and Patricia’s Open House) INTERVIEWER FOR YESTERDAYUSA INTERNET RADIO, SEPTEMBER, 2016:
“We have had calls and emails from listeners telling us how much they enjoyed you and were feeling so good about learning about your father, his work, the culture at the time, the people in the entertainment industry who would otherwise be forgotten So from them, too, thank you.

I tried to explain to Walden (her husband) – and probably didn’t do a very good job of it – what a remarkable and seamless blend of personal thoughts and feelings you captured (which added such warmth and life to the book) while at the same time maintaining an objective distance that made the book impartial and educational and Eddie Green captivating. I will add my comments on the Amazon site this week.

I have a hard time helping people grasp how much I love and appreciate American history, overt and obscure, but most especially the stories and experiences we would never know about except for people like you who put in the time and love to share it. What you share in your book is more than a gift for all of us.”
It is so good to receive messages such as this one and I want to thank Patricia and Walden again for having me on their program.
Thanks for stopping by and may you be inspired.

 

 

SPREAD THE INSPIRATION

6765541_1_lThis movie, written, directed and produced by my father, Eddie Green, in which he also starred, prompted one journalist to refer to Eddie as the “comic movie making mogul”, because the movie proved to be quite popular.

Dress Rehearsal (1939) was Eddie’s first movie that was released under Sepia-Art Pictures Co. (which Eddie owned) at the 125th Street Apollo in New York on October 21, 1939. The film was also shown in the Lichtman chain of theaters in the South. Eddie’s sales manager reported that after the first showing of the movie the “White as well as the Black audiences grabbed at it greedily.” And that due to this unexpected phenomenon “the entire plant had to be reorganized.” The “plant” being Eddie’s movie studio in Palisades, New Jersey.

The next “first” for Eddie is that in December of 1939 the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) picked Dress Rehearsal for broadcast over their television station in New York, making this movie the first Black (Negro in those days) motion picture to be sent out over the air.

Unfortunately, I have yet to locate copies of this film, although I do have copies of a script. The original script is kept in the Margaret Herrick Museum which is a non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of the motion picture.

Today, I am looking forward to my first “First,” my upcoming book signing event. On November 9, 2016 at 7:00PM PST I will be at Book Soup in Los Angeles signing Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. When I started this book writing venture I concentrated only on research and writing. I intended to present this book to my grandson as inspiration to go forward with his life. It turns out that my father’s story has provided inspiration for me and a lot of other people who have read the book or seen this blog. During this process, however, it never dawned on me that I would have book signings.

To paraphrase Norma Desmond, after this book signing there will be another one and another one! I already have two invites. This first one though has become a sort of celebration for me so I am having snacks, and a comedy clip and a reading and a raffle. And of course my marketing continues. I have become a part of a couple of social media sites and I am beginning to be a bit more outgoing in regard to “selling” the book.

One thing I know is that if I have a desire to do something, I can. And if the something I want to do gives me pleasure I will take the necessary steps to get it done. My father was a good example of that. Anyone can do the same. I appreciate my followers on this site because they help me to keep writing.  I hope you will mention this blog to others so that we can spread the inspiration.

Thanks, for stopping by and KCB.

 

Scene 2 – Little Miss Fresh Mouth

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During the process of researching information on my father’s life for the biography I have written, I began to realize that not only would I learn interesting facts about my father during this research but that I would also learn new and interesting facts about those with whom he worked. As this writing process went on I found that the more I discovered, the more I discovered. And somehow the discoveries made in the latter part of my research matched up with the earlier discoveries.

For instance, in a 1940 Baltimore newspaper article, my father says that an important point in the making of any motion picture, but particularly in photographing Black actors, is an experienced cameraman, because of the wide variety of skin colors and tints to be found in the Black race. The article noted that Eddie said the cameraman he used most of the time was Dan Malcomes, a veteran when it comes to cameras.

In order to use this information in my book I began to research Dan Malcomes. I started this research in 2014. In 2015 I learned that a Don Malkames had worked as a cameraman back in 1939 for a Mr. Joseph Seiden of Seiden Cinema, located in Fort Lee, New Jersey, which is where movie-making was done before there was Hollywood. Mr. Malkames was the cinematographer on the movie Paradise In Harlem (1939) which was directed by Joseph Seiden.

My father, Eddie, also made a movie  that year (wrote, directed, produced and starred in) titled What Goes Up, in his movie studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Sepia Art Pictures.   Through more research I discovered that the cameraman that Eddie worked with for his promotional photos was in fact, Don Malkames, miss-printed in the newspaper as Dan Malcomes. A search on the Internet today will show a listing of the different spelling versions.

Two of the stars in Eddie’s movie What Goes Up were Bebe Mathews and Sydney Easton. Two of the performers in Paradise in Harlem were Bebe Mathews and Sydney Easton. What I find unsettling is that the Paradise movie can be found on the internet, but Eddie’s movie has disappeared.

That What Goes Up has not been found is unfortunate too, because in 2015 as some of you may know from an earlier post, I received an email from the granddaughter of a woman who was an actress in the movie. The actress’s name is Millicent Roberts and she is now ninety-nine years of age. She is one of the ladies who was picked up by a chauffer and driven to the set in New Jersey to rehearse and perform her part as “little miss fresh mouth.” She told her granddaughter that she remembers the White cameraman who took her promotional bathing suit pictures on the set. (Eddie’s movie set was all-black except for Don, on purpose.) Millicent says that the pictures “were glamourous, just like Hollywood photos.”

The one thing that Millicent, who lives on the East Coast, would like is to see the movie What Goes Up again. A few of our friends are endeavoring to discover the whereabouts of the physical copy of this movie.  Maybe you beautiful people out there could keep an eye out, also. The movie premiered at the Apollo in New York in 1939.

Millicent has seen the photographs that were taken of her but was never given copies. Thanks to the internet I found out Mr. Malkames’ relative Rick Malkames has followed in Don’s footsteps and currently is head of The Malkames Collection.  I was able to send an email but they have nothing in their archives.

Millicent and Eddie
Millicent and Eddie

Now that I have written Eddie’s biography, Millicent’s granddaughter has bought the book and reads portions of the book to her. She says her grandmother “is just beside herself(lol!!!)”.

I am going to end with this quote from Millicent’s granddaughter in regard to the book because I never expected to receive such a powerful response or such a wonderful compliment. Very positive!

“It (the book) is also an inside look at the resilience and fortitude of our brothers (Black Men) like Eddie -who were clearly brilliant, talented, and resourceful in a time when we (Blacks) were considered to be nothing of the sort! This book should be required reading in African American History courses in every College and University!”

Research in Black Culture-A Celebration

momwithfur (2)The latest good news is that the biography I have written about my father, Eddie Green, will now be featured in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York.

The picture I have posted with Eddie and Mom (Norma) is in the Eddie Green Portrait Collection also at the Schomburg. I did not put this picture in the book because I do not own the photo. But I want to show it off here because these two look like they are enjoying the good life. Mom made her own hats back then. I don’t remember that fur coat but I do remember her fox fur stole. She kept it in that drawer that I wasn’t supposed to open.

If you have bought the book (thank you so much!!), you will see a picture of Eddie in a white suit and black tie, I was able to purchase a copy of the picture from the Schomburg and it works perfectly for my back cover.cropthisforpost (2)

As a filmmaker, movie and Broadway star and Old Time Radio Icon, Eddie was always sharp. He was a good business man. He was well-read. Eddie travelled with his books. He had his own library at the Hudson Theater in New York. They say a lot of those old time vaudeville actors read a lot of the classics in order to come up with ideas to incorporate into their funny skits, similar to a reference to Shakespeare’s Hamlet that was used in an old Three Stooges movie:

” Among the insane sights in this Stooges short is a burro wearing galoshes. The burro is named “Yorick,” and when it appears it was accidentally blown up, yes, we hear: “Alas, poor Yorick. We knew him well.”

Eddie was a comedian. A good comedian. He was funny, someone said he could not open his mouth without being funny. He didn’t mind acting funny, either.eddiegreensillyphotoas he did in his movie One Round Jones.

Over the time it took for me to write the book, I have had a number of people tell me that Eddie is looking down at me and smiling (even the lady who has my first consignment said it). I don’t know if this is so, but if it is he can now be proud that in 2016 both of our works are housed together in the same public access building in New York. I know I am proud. Thank you Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

And thank you, for stopping by and celebrating with me.