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.
Well, unlike George and Weezy I’ve moved on out of my old too expensive place “in” to a cheaper place. And what a relief it is. I’ve had to go backwards to move forward. Meaning I now have a bit more money to work with and I can be more comfortable while writing my second book and while I wait for my ship to come in. I’m sleeping with less stress as opposed to sleeping because of depression. And now I can focus on The Jeffersons. Getting back into doing research for a book helps balance me out.
When I started the process of interviewing folks for my book on the 1975-1985 tv sitcom The Jeffersons, I spoke with Mr. Norman Lear first. He talked about how he was influenced to produce a show like The Jeffersons by a few people who thought it would be a good idea to have a tv sitcom that portrayed affluent Black people who were coming up in the world as opposed to just struggling along, like the family from Good Times, so, he said “we moved on up”.
The Jeffersons theme song “Movin’ On Up” was written by Ja’Net DuBois and Jeff Barry. I did not know until recently that the theme song was sung by Ja’Net DuBois. Ms. DuBois, you may remember, played the part of Willona Woods from the tv sitcom Good Times (I know you remember her). Ms. DuBois began her acting career in the theater and went on to television and movie roles. She also dances. And has won an TV Land Image Award for her role in Good Times. (Frederick M. Brown-Getty Images)
Jeff Barry, the co-writer of “Movin’ On Up” is a Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee. He has co-written songs for The Monkees, The Shangri-las, The Ronettes, and he co-wrote “River Deep, Mountain High” recorded by Tina Turner. Wow. He is also the recipient of the Ahmet Ertegün Award from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has a great online site, too. (Google Advanced Image Search)
One of my Facebook friends said she liked the episode that featured Sammy Davis, Jr. I did not see that one, didn’t even know he had been a guest. The episode was titled “What Makes Sammy Run”. It aired January 1, 1984. I wonder how I missed THAT one. Sammy even recorded the Theme Song. Let’s see if I can post it here:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gee Gee James Refuses To Bow To St. Louis Jim-Crow ‘NO KITCHEN DOOR FOR ME” So said she after being told she had to enter a nightclub through the back door. In 1939, after being invited to see a play by the general manager of the Whites-Only Club Plantation in St Louis, Gee Gee was unpleasantly surprised to find when she got there that she would have to go in through the back door and through the kitchen. She said that she “did not see why she should not be allowed to go through the front door like all the other paying guests.” She also said she “just can’t quite get used to prejudice and jim crowism.”
Apparently the Club Plantation was a hot spot in 1939 and was considered one of the outstanding spots In the nation and one of the most pleasing places for Black artists and entertainers to work, however Blacks were not allowed in to see the shows. Gee Gee was invited in because she was in vogue at the time as an actress, but they still would not let her arrive through the front door.
Never having experienced this I tend to forget that Black entertainers of the early 1900s faced blatant racism constantly. Maybe even daily. It had to have been a constant stressor. Yet, actors like Gee Gee and my father, Eddie Green, lit up a room when they walked in. They were gracious off stage and dedicated to their craft on stage. These trailblazers have, because of their fortitude, become my heroes. I chose to write about Gee Gee James today because she and my father were once comedic partners. But like Eddie before I wrote my book, Gee Gee has pretty much been forgotten or over-looked. In this extremely bad copy you can see her from 1937: “Luis Russell, Eddie Green, Gee Gee James and Louie Armstrong, who on Friday night, over station WJZ, under the sponsorship of the Fleischman Yeast Company, made show world history.”—Photo by Continental News 1937
I found this wonderful article by Billy Rowe, a well-known Black journalist of the Pittsburgh Courier (1937):
ROWE NEW YORK, April 15,—”A packed house, a wildly enthusiastic audience, an atmosphere of intense joy. A leader with a captivating personality, directing a band, which like himself, knew how to swing . . . Standing before the ears of the nation awaiting the signal to commence *the first all-colored coast to coast radio program. Yes, it was a great achievement, and a personal triumph for all connected with the presentation of Louie Armstrong and his orchestra, Gee Gee James and Eddie Green, for they were the feature players making history in the world of colored show business.”
Gee Gee had been in show business a few years before appearing on the radio program. She and her husband, actor Ernest Whitman, who also performed with my father, were featured in an Old Time Radio program “The Gibsons“. She was also a singer, a dancer and a Broadway star.
As a matter of fact, Gee Gee was performing on Broadway when she got the invite to the Club Plantation. The play was No Time for Comedy at the Barrymore Theatre in 1939, and ran for 179 performances. The cast included Laurence Olivier as Gaylord Esterbrook and Katharine Cornell. Gee Gee was cast as “Clementine” and “has been received in millions of American homes via the airwaves and who is savoring success after success.”
Gee Gee James refused to be treated as less than any other human being just because she happened to be Black. In 1939. And she was successful. She helped pave the way for other Black people, other minorities, and other women to be treated with respect and dignity. I believe we must remember and uphold these trailblazers, and not let them fade out of view. Because though they are no longer here, they are still role-models and worthy of continued attention.
Well, after writing this I feel like I have just made a speech. So I will bow and say thank you, for stopping by.
Everyone can enjoy music. Any race or gender. It’s not normally about who is playing it. It really does not matter who is performing the music, only the notes matter. I think, however, what does matter is, who writes the notes and the lyrics. Who gets the recognition. I am happy that despite the fact that my father wrote his first song way back in 1917 his name is still listed as the writer. It’s pretty much a well known fact. And many, many people have recorded or performed Eddie’s song. Just recently a friend played it in a hotel where he works as a pianist. He was surprised how many people recognized the song, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is still being played by someone, somewhere in the world.
The song was made popular in 1919 by a White woman, Marion Harris, the first widely known White woman to sing jazz and blues. Then Sophie Tucker (the Red Hot Mama) fell in love with the song and sung it night after night in her nightclub act. Alberta Hunter took it after that. Bessie Smith, Louie Prima, and on and on. It’s been a fox trot, it’s been played with a ukulele. It was sung by Frank Sinatra in a movie joined by Shelley Winters. However, until I wrote Eddie’s biography most people were unaware that the writer of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was a Black man.
What I have known for a long time is that there are many songs written and/or performed first by African-Americans that became widely popular through White singers who wound up getting the kudos (think Elvis and “Hound Dog”).
John Turner Layton, Jr., was an African-American songwriter, singer and pianist. Born 1894, he died in 1978. Turner Layton’s buddy, Harry Sterling Creamer, born 1879, died 1930, was also an African-American song lyricist. He co-wrote many popular songs in the years from 1900 to 1929. These men were talented, dedicated, and also patriotic as you can see by their first album. And like my father, Eddie, also appeared in vaudeville.
These two men wrote the song “After You’ve Gone” in 1918. Like Eddie’s song, Marion Harris helped make this song popular, as did Sophie Tucker. Edyie Gorme has sung the song, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.
“Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” was also a popular song with music by John Turner Layton, lyrics by Harry Creamer. Sung by The Andrews Sisters (1950) Freddie Cannon, Bing Crosby, Jan and Dean (1963!) among others. Yet, how many people are aware of the fact that these songs were written by African-American men? Where is their recognition?
Layton and Creamer were even commissioned to do a play. ” COBURNS PLAN MUSICAL SHOW: Mr. and Mrs. Coburn. it was learned last week, have practically completed negotiations for a new musical play which they plan to produce. The play is called “The Three Showers,” and the book, lyrics and music were written Jointly by Harry S. Creamer and Turner Layton. If George M. Cohan consents to fix up the book of “The Three Showers,” as is contemplated by the Coburns.”
About 1924 Turner Layton went to Europe. He teamed up with a Mr. Clarence “Tandy” Johnstone and enjoyed a great deal of success. Per the Pittsburgh Courier, 1927: “Turner Layton, Clarence Johnstone Are Playing To Big Crowds In London.”
Like Eddie, Turner Layton was often mentioned in the Black newspapers even as late as 1950, Pittsburgh Courier, 1950: “The Turner Laytons with daughter Alelia vacationing in usual swank style on French Riviera. Turner Layton happy at relief of gas rationing . . . Rolls Royces do less than 8 miles to the gallon. ” The man had a Rolls Royce.
We hear the songs and even recognize the people who sing them and that’s cool. But the recognition of the fact that there is much widely popular music that was written by African-Americans is absent in America. There, I’ve said it. Which is why who wrote the music matters, today. Music is universal. As is the African-American contribution.
Hey, thanks, for stopping by.
Check out my book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.
My question is “didn’t Black people ever watch old time radio?” I have begun to realize the magnitude of commercialism and how it played into Blacks being ignored in this world in the early 1900s. While researching African-Americans and their relationship to Old Time Radio I did a Google search for “Old Time Radios”. The search engine game me dozens of images of families sitting around the radio listening to a program. Some actually were looking at the radio as if it was a television. However, none of these families were Black. I am trying to wrap my head around the idea that despite all the African-Americans in America at the time, there was little representation in the radio industry. According to J. Fred MacDonald “the industry in its so-called Golden Age offered only limited opportunities for black men and women to develop.” Even though there was a huge need for personnel.
Of course, there were Blacks working in radio as janitors, or electrical assistants and even an announcer or two. They had to come in the “other” door, though. And there were Blacks performing on the radio, such as my father, Eddie Green, who became Rudy Vallee’s protege’ or Eddie “Rochester” Anderson from the Jack Benny program. My father was evidently so funny that Rudy Vallee would feature Eddie over and over. Then there were shows that were hugely popular with everybody (maybe not the NAACP), such as, Amos n Andy. People everywhere literally stopped what they were doing to listen to this program. Eddie was the lawyer, Stonewall in this program. There must have been some Blacks sitting in front of their radios, or if they did not have one a person could stand in front of their local storefront and listen to the broadcasts. Yes, I am beginning to really see how segregation kept Black people “out of the picture”, except in some rare instances. I mean we were THERE.
Today, If you look up Old Time Radio (OTR), not the Beyonce’ concert, you will get a lot of information about all the White radio suspense, cowboy, comedy and horror shows.
Old Time Radio shows produced by Blacks got a toehold in maybe the late 30s. The one I have researched so far, though got its start on June 27, 1948. Mr. Richard Durham began a radio program titled “Destination Freedom”. Now….. if you look up OTR shows online you will get a lot of sites that post lists of shows and you will get sites that let you listen to lots of shows. Until two days ago I hadn’t found one site that had a list of a Black OTR program.
Two days ago I found one that has a list and lets you download shows of Mr. Durham’s Destination Freedom.Old Time Radio Downloads. They have won my heart. They actually have clippings of each episode of “Destination Freedom” for my listening pleasure. I love them. Maybe some day this show will appear in the internet search engines under OTR, Old Time Radio, that is.
Hi there. When I started this blog at the end of 2014 it was to provide a platform for myself as an author. I was writing my first book. A book about my father, Eddie Green. I have since written the book, had it published and even won an award. As Eddie died when I was 3 years old, researching the book allowed me to become acquainted with him and his life in entertainment. What I have learned is that the writing of the book did not mean that I had all of Eddie’s story.
Once people read the book they started sending me new information about Eddie. At library presentations people came up and told me stories about Eddie. I’ve been introduced to people in the magic entertainment venue because Eddie started out as a magician, and I’ve learned more new stuff. So, I started researching again. In the book I mentioned that Eddie wrote and staged a play titled Playing The Numbers. Just a couple of lines because that was all the information I had. Two weeks ago while reading an old 1920s magazine article I discovered how Eddie was presented with this opportunity.
According to the article, Frank Schiffman, general manager at the time, of the Lafayette Theater, New York, decided to remodel. On June 4, 1925 the theater hardly knew itself when the doors were thrown open for the opening. A new carpet was laid In the lobby. The entire front was scoured, revealing forgotten beauties In the exterior. A new electric lobby display was installed, new flooring was laid on the stage and the Interior repainted. A brand new pipe organ was also installed.
It was decided that Inasmuch as the management was so closely associated with the Apollo Theater which had been so successfully operating for the past year, it was rather natural that a similar policy, somewhat modified, should be given a trial. Therefore Eddie Green who had been an Important comedian in the Apollo cast was commissioned to organize a miniature stock company that each week will present a IS-minute performance that will consist of mutual numbers and burlesque comedy bits. The bits, however, would be revised by Eddie to conform to the special requirements of the neighborhood. the Lafayette Theater reopened Thursday, June 4, with a program of continuous motion pictures and vaudeville.*
7th Ave. At 132nd-St.
Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun. JUNE 4-5-6,7
WM. de MILLE’S (Cecil’s brother, btw) MEN and WOMEN Produced by Paramount AND A Big Vaudeville Bill Including PLAYING THE NUMBERS Written and Staged by EDDIE GREEN With Henrietta Lovelace, Grace Smith, Eugene Pugh, Lorenzo McLane and a Chorus of CREOLE VAMPS Matinees 15c & 25c Eves. 25c, 35cf 50c
Midnight Show Every Friday Performances continuous I p.m. to 12 midnight
THE MOST ELEGANT THEATRE IN HARLEM CATERING TO THE BEST COLORED PATRONAGE
So now I know a bit more of the particulars. Frank Schiffman was also the man who fell in love with Eddie’s first movie Dress Rehearsal and made a deal to debut the movie at the Apollo Theater in April of 1939.
I have also learned a bit more about the star of the vaudeville bit, Henrietta Lovelace (sometimes spelled Loveless). I have really had to dig to get information on this lady. Unfortunately, pulling up Black entertainers names from the early 1900s from the internet is not as easy as 1, 2, 3. However, I did find this in the New York Age:
“HENRIETTA LOVELESS Of Washington, D. C, who went to New York with Irvin Miller’s Blue Moon early this season, is now on tour with Chappelle and Stinette’s Kentucky Sue. They played the Grand Theater in Chicago last week. Miss Loveless graduated from Fisk University in 1921 and studied music and voice culture under Mrs. J. A. Robinson, an Oberlin graduate. She is the wife of Lorenzo McLane, noted comedian, of Montgomery, Ala.”
Then there is this: 1924 Elmore Theater “In McLane and Loveless you will see the greatest musical comedy team that has been played in Dixie. Their comedy is clean and of the highest grade; their songs are snappy and the latest numbers. To hear Henrietta Loveless sing “Mammy Loves Her Child,” will knock one cold”, says J. A. Jackson in the Billboard; and this one: Jack’s Cabaret, on Congress St., officially opened for the summer Saturday night, beginning its 20th year as a local entertainment place. Miss Henrietta Loveless, who sings in the Sophie Tucker style, leads this year’s floor show.
Henrietta Loveless was born on August 26, 1903 in Polk County, Georgia, USA. She was an actress, known for Murder in Harlem (1935) and The Spider’s Web (1927), an Oscar Micheaux film. She died in 1934. Just before she passed away she was the star of the newest Broadway hit Swing Out The News. It was said that “the vehicle gives vent to all that it’s name implies—satire and burlesque on all present day affairs, especially The New Deal Administration. It’s swift gay, exhilarating. crisp and modern in every way. Rex Ingram, and Henrietta Loveless, playing the father and mother of Franklin D. Roosevelt Tones, the Harlem new-born son, on relief under the F. D. R. New Deal Program really steal the show.”
The play itself was supposed to celebrate the fact that there was a change a’comin for the poor and destitute of the country. And the New Deal programs did indeed put millions of Americans immediately back to work or at least helped them to survive, but thousands of blacks were thrown out of work and replaced by whites on jobs where they were paid less than the NRA’s wage minimums because some white employers considered the NRA’s minimum wage “too much money for Negroes”. However, since Blacks felt the sting of the depression’s wrath even more severely than Whites they welcomed any help. (Wikipedia) So I am going to continue to “lift” Black entertainers who persevered but seem to have been erased from history.
My father worked his butt off in order to bring himself out of the poverty into which he was born. He was talented and “a regular guy”. He got along with people. Even though he lived in one of the most dangerous periods of American history for a Black person.
And, of course, I am going to mention the White people who have been instrumental in helping their Black fellows progress. My father was a ham operator and he spoke to people all over the world. I love that!!!
Thanx, for stopping by!!
*Radio Daily, 1925
Eddie Green, The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer
Well, it’s been two years since I published the biography on my father, Eddie Green. During the research period I searched and searched for a physical copy of this movie “What Goes Up“. Eddie wrote it, produced it, directed it and starred in it. The movie was made in Palisades, New Jersey in 1941. I am hoping to find it because, of course, it’s my father’s second movie and also because there is a member of the cast of this movie who has just celebrated her 101 years old birthday and she would love to see the movie one more time. She saw it when it first premiered in 1941 at the Apollo Theater in New York, of course, she and her mother. But not since then.
Last week I FINALLY found mention of the movie being shown at a theater in New York:
WILLIAM AT MONROE – Valerie Hobson THE SEA” Russell Hayden “RIDERS OF THE NORTHLAND” Serial, “OVERLAND MAIL”. Chapter 2
Also Eddie Green, Famous Colored Radio Star, in Featurette, “What Goes Up” Buffalo NY Courier Express 1941
The Plaza was located near William and Monroe streets. 42 East 58th St. I believe this is in New York as the ad was in a New York newspaper. The ad itself is located way down in the bottom right hand corner of the newspaper. If you were not looking for it specifically, you probably would have missed it. Of course, sixty years later there is now a restaurant at that location. Still just the fact that I found mention of my father’s second movie being shown to an audience is FANTASTIC. And did you notice? The ad says he was “Famous”.
The fact that I have met so many people who are willing to take time out of their lives to participate in finding information about Eddie and getting that info to me is a great impetus for me to continue researching my father’s life. I was actually looking for news about the fact that Eddie was a magician before he became a comedian and a songwriter and a Old Time Radio star and a movie star. I may have to write a whole ‘nother book!!!
Thanks so much, for stopping by.
Book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer
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