Doris Day-Cool; But, Remember The Mills Brothers?

Welcome!!

 

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1935: Photo of Brothers Mills, The Mills Brothers signed 1935 by each of the brothers. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Today, watching Social Media, it has occurred to me that there are not many Black celebrities from back in the day remembered/celebrated for their many successes. The fact that I wrote my father’s biography was the best thing I could have done for his memory. People are so glad I wrote it! My father’s life story includes the fact that he sent one of his songs to a publisher in New York asking him to give it to the Mills Brothers or some such quartette. So I did a bit of research on the Mills Brothers. How many people remember the Mills Brothers? Probably a lot, but not as readily as they remember Doris Day. Maye it’s because no one talks about these Black giants of entertainment. And the Mills Brothers successes were phenomenal. The Mills Brothers made more than 2,000 recordings that sold more than 50 million copies and garnered at least three dozen gold records.

Pennsylvania Historical Marker

They became local radio stars and got their major break when Duke Ellington and his Orchestra played a date in Cincinnati and he was able to hook them up with Okeh records, the same company that recorded my father.

“Tiger Rag” became a number 1 hit on the charts. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They were a hit on CBS in 1930–1931, particularly when they co-starred on the popular The Fleischmann’s Yeast Hour hosted by Rudy Vallee (where my father would perform 1934-1937).

In 1934, The Mills Brothers became the first African-Americans to give a command performance before British royalty. They performed at the Regal Theatre for a special audience: King George V and Queen Mary. It was during this time that they lost their brother John, Jr. and their father took over his spot.

“I’ll Be Around” became a hit, and then a disk jockey played side B and “Paper Doll”, (written by Johnny S. Black) recorded in fifteen minutes, became a hit. It sold six million copies and became the group’s biggest hit 1943. “I’m gonna buy a Paper Doll that I can call my own”.

 

They appeared in movies in the 1930s and tv programs in the 50s (The Perry Como Show, The Tonight Show, The Dean Martin Show). 

The rise of rock and roll in the early fifties did little to decrease the Mills Brothers popularity. “Glow Worm” (Johnny Mercer version) became the 5th million selling record in 1952, they had a hit in 1958 with a cover version of “Get a Job” by The Silhouettes. Their last hit was “Cab Driver”.

In 1998 the Recording Academy recognized the Mills family’s contributions to popular music when it presented Donald, as the sole surviving member, with a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Mills Brothers Hollywood Walk of Fame

These four gentlemen were HOT. For quite a while. And it gives me great pleasure to know that my father wrote a song that he thought might work for The Mills Brothers. Doris Day was cool, I memorized “Que Sera, Sera” as a child and have seen almost all of her movies; but I love listening to those Mills Brothers. (“Shine little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer”) – Johnny Mercer version.

 

Hey, thanx for stopping by 🙂

 

 

 

wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mills_Brothers#References

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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. 🙂

BLACKARTMATTERS-A Good Man is Hard to Find

Out of necessity I am getting better and better at cutting and pasting on my posts and I have posted a GREAT link.

A while back I submitted a story to an online electronic magazine Unlikely Stories Mark V. Unlikely Stories Mark V is the new incarnation of the electronic magazine, Unlikely Stories, which has been published on the Web, more-or-less continually, since 1998 publishes poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, especially firsthand accounts of sociopolitical activism. They publish galleries of visual art, music, spoken word, other forms of aural art, and audiovisual presentations.

Below is a link to the magazine. Once there scroll down till you see “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, (the title of my article) By: Me. I wrote a good article but Unlikely Stories put a spin on it that you will love, I know I do.  Check it out and enjoy! The article begins thus:

Eddie Green, legendary filmmaker, star of movies and Broadway, Old Time Radio Icon and composer, was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1891 and died in Los Angeles, California in 1950. He achieved fame as an actor and comedian, and was well-known as an entrepreneur as the owner of two movie studios and a string of restaurants. As a composer of music, Eddie wrote over twenty songs. His first song “A Good Man is Hard to Find” written in 1917, is still being recorded almost one hundred years later.

http://www.unlikelystories.org/

IF IT WAS NOT FOR EDWARD

myfamblyIf it wasn’t for Edward, I may not have written a book about my father.

My father’s birth name was Edward and he later changed it to Eddie. My grandson’s birth name is Edward (for reasons other than what one might think), and he later began to go by Eddie. The picture on this post is Melony (my gorgeous daughter), Edward (aka Eddie) and me, Grandma. Edward is about 24 in this picture and he was about six years old when I conceived the idea to write a book. This picture was taken about two years ago and my book has been published as of this past June.

My father, Eddie Green, died when I was a little child. I grew up with the knowledge that he had been “somebody” in the entertainment industry, but it had never been paramount in my mind. As a youngster I wanted to be an entertainer, I wanted to be a singer and entertain the world. When I thought I had said something funny, I would tell my mother it was because Eddie (the comedian) was my father. But I never wanted to write a book about my father.

I became aware as I got older that my father had been a successful man, as an actor, a composer, filmmaker, singer and Old Time Radio personality, especially as he was a Black man coming along in an era of major struggles for Black people trying to get into show business. Still, I did not consider writing a book. I was proud of the fact that my father had been in show business. I was proud of the fact that he wrote the song “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. I even heard Alberta Hunter singing the song on the Jazz radio station in Los Angeles in the 80s. Cool.

And then Melony had Edward. And then Edward began school, which meant homework. Nobody likes homework. Homework is hard. I think Edward is a genius now, but back then he had trouble with homework and when he was told to do his homework, he would say “I can’t”! Well, what grandma wants their grandkid to grow up thinking they can’t? So, I got the brilliant idea to use my father, his great-grandfather, as an example of what a person CAN do, no matter what. And so began the process of research.

Little did I know that Eddie’s career as an entertainer and as an entrepreneur was far greater than I had thought. His life story truly was inspiring. And could inspire other people struggling with the seeming difficulties in life. The fact that Eddie was a Black man born in 1891 who attained certain heights in what was seen as a White man’s world just made his story more awe-inspiring, to me. Being a modern Black woman, I had to get over my feelings of discomfort when I saw my father in black-face on stage on television,  I researched the issue and gained a better understanding of why. But the fact that my father is one of the first Black men to be  on the first RCA-NBC 1936 test demonstrations of television BLOWS me away. The man is on the internet today! He looks funny, but if it had not been for people like Eddie back then, Blacks would probably not be where they are today. If it had not been for people like Eddie, who rose against all odds, I would not have this story to tell to provide motivation to anyone who needs it.

If it had not been for Edward, my grandson, I may not have known that I could write a book. He told me after the book was written that “no matter what else happens, just remember that you wrote the book”.  (He is a genius) And that was the point. To write a book demonstrating a persons ability to achieve success in their endeavors, no matter what.

Wow, I was long-winded today. Hey, thanks for stopping by.

 

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

Eddie Green -Social MediaOk, let’s see, how can I put this? I AM A PUBLISHED AUTHOR. Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer is now available for public consumption. Of course, I let family members know first and now I am announcing to my wonderful blogging family. Woo hoo!!!

On November 12, 2014 I wrote these next two paragraphs on my first post on my brand new laptop:

Bestsellng author, Dean Koontz said, “I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.”

I found this quote while doing some research for a book I will eventually complete.  I began my research in about 1998 because my then small grandson’s favorite words seemed to be “I can’t”.  Usually in regard to why he did not finish his homework.  His homework was always too hard.  I came up with the bright idea to enlighten him on what a person can accomplish by telling him about, and by writing a book for him about my father, his grandfather, who was a black man born in poverty in 1896 and who rose to prominence despite many obstacles.

Well, it is now 2016 and eventually has arrived. My original idea of writing a book was small. I mean, you know, you gather the information and type it up and you have a little book. And then you give him, your grandson, this little book. Once I began the research my knowledge of the true progression of my father’s life from poverty to prominence grew. I knew Eddie was a radio star, had written a song, had made a movie, had appeared in a movie. But since Eddie died when I was three and he had only been married to my mom for five years, I never really learned half of the things my father had accomplished. My little book grew.

One thing I discovered which I could not share with my mom because she had passed on by 2010, was that my father lied about his age. She thought Eddie had been born in 1896, but according to his Social Security Application from 1937, Eddie was actually born in 1891. So when my twenty-two year old mother married Eddie he was actually fifty-four, not forty-nine. I learned that not only had Eddie written one song “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, he wrote twenty-nine songs. Not only did he make one movie, he made wrote, produced, directed and acted in five all-black cast movies. He had appeared on and co-hosted radio shows, he had appeared on Broadway and on and on and on. My little book became a BOOK. And the progression has been documented on this blog.

I have loved every minute of sharing my journey here through WP, and I am very happy that I have a loyal group of followers (which I acknowledged in my book). This journey is not over. I have the job of marketing to do. I will continue to post regarding progress, and I will continue to share other items of interest to keep the spark of inspiration going. Thank you all so much for being a part of this journey. Check me out at http://www.bearmanormedia.com.

and we have a Facebook site for the book:

https://www.facebook.com/EddieGreenBook/?view_public_for=1134428443290744

As always, Thanks, for stopping by, and Spread The Word!

TEN PIN not TIN PAN, and no bowling!

Edward Green Draft Registration Card 1917-1918
Edward Green Draft Registration Card 1917-1918

I absolutely do not expect anybody to read the above, because it is so small, it’s just that I suffer with a need to show verification of my findings and maybe whoever is reading this can see my father’s signature on this draft card on the left side.  This is the most foolproof way for me to know that I am discussing the right Eddie Green.  If you are new to this blog, this is where I am journaling about my father’s life as an entertainer back in the day, way back.  Along with this project, I am writing a book about my father.  I started this blog also as a way to share my journey and to, hopefully, provide inspiration to those who need a push to get out there and pursue their dreams.

I stumbled across this 1917-1918 draft card a few days ago while looking for some other unrelated information about my father.  Now that I have an up-to-date computer system, I have access to more records.  This card provided a lot of new information, for example, it listed Eddie’s address as1405 Ten Pin Alley, Baltimore.  So, of course, I went on-line to find this address, but it no longer exists, which is not surprising.  What I did find was this:

ten pin alley
ten pin alley

And This:

bathroom
This is the plaque on the door at Ten Pin Alley

I finally found the  Index of Streets and Alleys found in Records, Plats, Atlases and Miscellaneous Drawings
at the Baltimore City Archives compiled by Rebecca Gunby, 1993.  And there between Pratt Street and Washington Blvd. I found Ten Pin Alley.  It was actually an alley that people lived in, in 1917.

10 Ft Alley: n of Pratt St 1959 M4205
10 Ft. Alley: Ten Pin Alley
10 Ft Alley: Washington Blvd
Here is a picture of Fells Point Alley, which was located in about the same area.

fells point

Eddie, who was still calling himself Edward, and who had a wife and child, and who would, in a few months write his first and most famous hit song “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, probably could not imagine to what heights his talents would take him while he was living on Ten Pin Alley in 1917, or maybe he could.  Maybe he saw himself jamming on Tin Pan Alley, I don’t know.  What I do know is that I found a May 1949 article that says:. ” . . . It is now being said by Pigmeat Markham and John Mason, a duo of funny lads themselves, that Eddie has so much money now that he has stopped counting it and started weighing it.”

That’s all for now, good people.  Thanks for stopping by.

It’s Time To Write The Book!

my father & mother 1945
my father & mother 1945

I have put a lot of time and effort into finding out all I could about my father.  I was only three when he died and I basically have no memory of him.  He was 30 years older than my mother and they were only married for five years.  During my research I have found out my mom knew very little about the man she married, or, what she told me was very little.  Eddie was an actor, a songwriter, a singer, a restaurant owner, a dancer, a movie producer, a movie star, a radio personality and I could go on, but I won’t.  The thing is, I have only learned most of this information in the last four years, mom never told me half of this stuff.  I figure since she was only in her early 20’s when she married Eddie and he had money at the time, their life was too busy for her to worry about what he had done before she met him.  They traveled and gave “soirees” and went to nightclubs all the time, and had me, so mom only knew what was going on from the time she married Eddie.

My problem now is that I have almost no information on my father’s early years.  I know where he was born, that he was extremely poor and that he left home at about nine years of age.  I know that he taught himself to read and taught himself magic tricks and became the “Boy Magician” traveling around Baltimore putting on shows in churches and halls.  And that is about it.  He was born in 1891 and I have been told his birth certificate no longer exists.  I have his parents names (finally) but cannot find them in any census.  I want to start my book but I hate to begin the book with sketchy information, and the longer I put if off, the more I feel that I am procrastinating.

My really good information starts when Eddie wrote his first song.  According to the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Eddie copyrighted “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” on December 28, 1917 in Chicago under his given name, Edward Green.  He sold it a year later, but continued to perform the song in places like the Booker Washington Theater in St. Louis until 1920.

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

Advertisement
Pace and Handy Building, 232 West, 42nd ST., New York
on sale at Pace & Handy Co., Inc., Publishers. Price 15 c. Composed by Eddie Green.

From there it is easy to trace Eddie because his name stays in the paper as his career and his entrepreneurial life grows.  As a matter of fact, his name was in the paper so much, I was beginning to wonder if he was paying someone to see that it was.

Anyhow, I am going to start my very first book writing adventure for the new year and I hope to take you along with me.  I will use my blog as a place for updates of my progress and to ask for suggestions or words of encouragement, while continuing to post what I think are inspirational posts from myself or others, inspirational poetry if I find any, or information on motivational blogs I run across.  And speaking of inspiration and motivation, I know that my father started out with nothing, very little schooling and entered into a world that, in the early 1900’s was a truly difficult world for people of color, but Eddie took the bull by the horns and ran with it and became an upstanding man who was well-liked by those who knew him, both professionally and personally and always got asked back.  I am very proud to be his daughter.  Thanks for stopping by.