Eddie’s Thoughts On The Matter

Greetings! In 2014 I started this blog to write about my first book writing journey. The book was a biography of my father, Eddie Green. He died when I was 3 so I had to wander through libraries and museums and old newspaper archives because he was an Entertainer and mom, 30 years his junior, had not told me much about his history. I discovered much. I kept finding new stuff. I researched the book for over ten years. In 2010 when mom died, I put my whole self into the research. I wrote the book. It published in 2016. I won an award. Five years later I am still finding out new things about my father.

These past five years I have been interviewed on radio programs about the book my father, I’ve been interviewed about myself and my writing journey and about my father, on podcasts and I have had articles written about me and my book. I never even considered this might happen. I am now working on a 2nd and 3rd book. Because of the book about my father.

About a week ago an interviewer asked me a question I had not anticipated. Today I realized the answer was readily available in the book. I also realized that interest in Eddie’s life story will continue, even as I go on to other stories, so I had better continue to keep a focus on that which got me to where I am today. (Which reminds me: I need to add a “buy” button like I have on my FB book page.)

The interviewer’s question was, what I thought Eddie might say about Black progress in the Entertainment or filmmaking business today. We were discussing movies but I immediately thought of an article in which Eddie was talking about Blacks getting into television: Eddie Green’s Firm Aids Show Business Through Television: “The fast growing field of television offers a fertile one for Negro performers.” “Colored performers have their niche in the television picture and they should demand that their agents establish contacts with those that handle the shows in order not to be left out in the cold when the infant industry attains maturity.” Eddie pointed out that “the decline of vaudeville witnessed many good Negro acts going out of business and little hope for the birth of new talent was anticipated until television offered vast potentialities.” This was in 1947.

Eddie was very much aware of the difficulty of Black people getting into the various forms of entertainment. Eddie was quoted as saying, also in 1947, “Radio for Negroes is a very hard field to get into…very hard! But the returns are so great that it’s worth the try.”

Eddie died 3 years later. He had been contacting television producers to sell them ideas for commercials. I did not have to think too hard on what Eddie might think about the progress Blacks have made today. If Eddie could appear in 2021 I think he would be displeased with the progress in the Entertainment field. If only because of the fact that he, a Black man born in 1891 into absolute poverty was able to rise to the top of his profession through his determination, his talent and his hard work.

Today Eddie is an old time radio Icon. At the time of his death he owned his 3rd movie studio and was making TV spots. Using his own money. His movies used Black actors only. He directed, starred in, produced and wrote his own movies. Yes, he was broke when he died. I’m sure he used the money he made on his radio program, and the movies he appeared in to stay afloat. But Eddie was all about staying relevant in the industry. Especially as a Black man. I think he envisioned other “Negroes” (back in those days “Negroes” was who we were, and proud about it) pushing for their chance to get ahead in this new “television” thing and in all the entertainment avenues.

It has not been easy. People like say, Lena Horne, could have had a starring role in a motion picture, if she had not been Black. She was happier as a singer, per articles I’ve read. And she refused to take roles as a maid or a prostitute (Desert News, 2010). She was proud of the color of her skin.

In 1952 Josephine Baker was feeling positive: “I have a very good feeling about Hollywood, I think it is growing up. I think the time is coming when the movie industry will be making
movies with more colored actors. Think of the audiences of colored people through out the world 500 or 600 million, I think the studios would more than make up for whatever loss they might suffer in the South. and I think the day is coming when the South will go for such pictures, too.” Salamanca New York Republican, J Baker

Today I read in Wikipedia that:

Tyler Perry Studios is one of the largest film studios in the nation and established Tyler Perry as the first African-American to outright own a major film studio.

It says he prefers to write his work himself. That’s what my father did.

I believe Eddie would write an article today, if my some miracle he came back, like the one he wrote to the Negro Hour radio show in 1938: In regard to their theme song: “Find a brilliant work of some of our great Negro composers. There are many. Or you might even pick a suitable stanza from the pen of our poets (Dunbar and others), set it to music. Brilliant, forceful music.” Further along he tells them “And now in closing, USE THE NEGRO NEWSPAPERS to tell the people that you have a program.”

I think Eddie’s thoughts then could very well be his thoughts today in championing progress for Blacks in Entertainment. In other words, have a positive belief in your ability to succeed, the will to push through, even though obstacles block you time and again and watch what happens.

Those new to this site or you longtimers – My book can still be purchased through Amazon: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.

Good News, from Yours Truly

Is there ANY good news out there? Of course! Somewhere. I could focus on my own good news. I am helping to market an exciting new book-and getting paid. This is a big deal because I am retired from my 30 year secretarial career and have begun a whole new career as a writer. My first book was published in 2016 and I had to learn how to market the book and myself. Now others are trusting me to help their books sell. I did not plan this new career. I never really made “retirement” plans. Now I make interviewing plans and proofing plans and which project to work on today plans. If you get this book and like it we would appreciate a review on Amazon.

The biography I wrote about my father has added significantly to my well-being. He died when I was 3. Until I was grown I had a teeny resentment against him for leaving me. We were a show biz family but after he died things changed. Money got spent, show biz friends no longer hung out at our house, and mom focused her energies on getting by as best she could. Consequently, it was not until I began doing research for the book that I found out what a helluva guy Eddie was. And it was during this time that my mom shared something with me that literally poked me in the chest and let me know that my father loved me. Now, that was good news. There are great reviews on Amazon for this book. Check it out!

Writing that biography has led to me writing a book about the 1970s TV sitcom The Jeffersons. I’ve interviewed cast members, writers, Norman Lear, cable pullers, secretaries, guests and I’ve loved it. However, it has been a learning experience. I am currently re-writing portions of the book which is actually a good thing because I have to concentrate and pay attention to what goes on the page. I’ve learned to write what I want to say rather than quoting others. Coming soon.

My next book is gonna be a doozy. It’s about the TV sitcom Maude, starring Bea Arthur, Bill Macy, Conrad Bain, Rue McClanahan and Adrienne Barbeau. Given the Maude character’s liberal views and outspokenness, the controversial issues and the comedic scenes between these actors, I’m looking forward to having a ball writing this book. And, yes, I will have experienced help.

I’ve even made tremendous progress in understanding the Copyright issues that have popped up regarding my father’s songs (his first being “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” with the help of some great folks across the pond. I wrote a post about it early on-I Want My Daddy’s Records! I got the idea from an episode of Sanford and Son. Talking about the Blind Mellow Jelly Collection. Fred’s trying to help his (supposedly) blind friend get his dad’s records.

This has been a good news post from Yours Truly. Stay safe and thanks, for stopping by. πŸ™‚

Ben-Ami’s Memories Between the Pages

Welcome to the beginning of my posting about a subject new to me, but one that I am already having fun with. I will be starting a new Blog for this subject as soon as I figure out how to do it. Mr. Yoran Ben-Ami, writer, producer, director, and actor has had his newest book published and I love the cover. Not because there is a wild lady on a zebra but because it looks exciting! My Adventure with Sheena, Queen of the Jungle is the story of Ben-Ami’s time spent in Africa in 1984 working behind-the-scenes with the star of the movie, Tanya Roberts.

As you may have heard, Tanya Roberts died just days after this book was finished. Her death was sad for many, however, Ms. Roberts had quite a life and an exciting career. As an actress, producer, and model, she was best known for playing Julie Rogers in the final season of the television series Charlie’s Angels (1980–1981), Stacey Sutton in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985), Sheena in Sheena (1984). Share their adventure.

This will be a short post however I do want to tell you a bit more about Ben-Ami. He is known for his producing skills in movies like Lone Wolf McQuade (1983), Stone Cold (1991), and 3 Ninjas-High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998) with Hulk Hogan and Loni Anderson. My favorite today though is the 1982 movie Swamp Thing. Funny enough, this movie stars an actor (Adrienne Barbeau) who starred in the TV Sitcom Maude, which is the subject of my 3rd book. I love connections! They let me know I am on the right track.

I see this as quite an honor for me because Yoran Ben-Ami is agreeable with me writing about his book writing venture because I write well and this is a way for me to become better at what I do.

I will be posting more about this and of course my Jeffersons book writing adventure will still be shared here. The Jeffersons book is a bit overdue (in my brain) because of rewrites. But thankfully, I have helpful friends and followers and family. Stay Safe, Wear your masks, get a vaccine when you can, Don’t panic, Be happy, Love your neighbor.

πŸ™‚

My Adventure with Sheena, Queen of the Jungle is published by BearManor Media and can be purchased from BearManor and on-line at Barnes and Noble.

Writing, Reality & Racism

One thing I like about posting on WordPress is that I can write any way I choose. I can start a sentence with the word “and” or I can use “I’ve” instead of “I have”. I can even place my commas or periods in the wrong place. We are informal. So, let me begin. The other day a Twitter friend posted an Amos n Andy 1951 television broadcast on Youtube, titled “The Young Girl’s Mother”. It seemed familiar and I remembered that in 1951 the same story had been performed on the Amos n Andy radio program and my mother, Norma Green and Dorothy Dandridge were two of the characters in the episode: “The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show. February 25, 1951. CBS net. “Andy Meets Girl’s Mother”. Rexall. Andy has proposed to twenty-two year-old Brenda Thompson, not realizing she’s the daughter of Madame Queen! Madame Queen is willing to settle for Andy as a son-in-law, if not a husband. The opening is slightly upcut. Bill Hay does one of the commercials. Bob Ross (writer), Griff Barnett (commercial spokesman), Bill Hay, Jeff Alexander and His Orchestra (music), Ken Niles (announcer), Bob Mosher (writer), Joe Connelly (writer), Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll, Johnny Lee, Lillian Randolph, Dorothy Dandridge, Norma Green.” Radiogoldin.library

I was too surprised when I found this out in 2015 since my mother hadn’t bothered to tell me about it. Anywho, I watched the television episode. The episode was funny, however, I could see why the NAACP tried successfully to get it off prime time television (I think it ran a while in re-runs). The Andy and Kingfish characters, Spencer Williams and Tim Moore, had been instructed and coached on how to be the voices of Andy and Kingfish. So they both spoke like this: “I done popped the question and she done accepted”. And this: “You gone with a lot of girls since I knowed you”. And this: “what is I gonna do?”

As I watched this show today, I cringed at the way they talked. I wondered if we as Black people really talked that way back then. Or did Correll and Gosden, the show’s creators, just want them to talk that way because that was how Correll and Gosden talked when they pretended to be Black men when the show was on the radio. I do believe Williams and Moore went along with the script because that was one of the only ways a Black man could make a decent amount of money. Racism was rampant in 1951 in the entertainment business.

But racism was present also in Black families. Take my family, for instance. My maternal grandmother looked White. She listed herself as Spanish on my mother’s elementary school papers. She was not Spanish. Her mother and father were lightskinned Black people. My maternal grandfather was Italian, so my mother looked White. When my father, Eddie, started courting my mother, (here they are on the left) my grandmother would make Eddie come around to the back door as opposed to letting him in the front. Yes, because Eddie was dark-skinned. Fast forward to 1980, the rumor was that I was asked by an older family member to live in and take care of “nana’s” house because I am light-skinned as opposed to asking one of our darker skinned family members. The same person who requested this of me would not even entertain the thought of having a dark-skinned grandchild. Even though her own mother was dark-skinned.

Racism exists everywhere. Still. Today. It is not surprising to me from whence it comes. It exists. As a lightskinned person I have been accused of ignoring a man who spoke to me at a bus stop because I thought I was “too good” because I was light. I have friends today who speak about me as being “high-yellow”. Why do they mention the color of my skin when they see me? Who knows. Everyone has an opinion on something. We cannot censure the thoughts that run through people’s heads and if these thoughts pop out of their mouths, we can’t stop that either.

There has been some so-called “shocking” news in the world today, which makes me believe that people are refusing to live in the world of reality. They seem to want to believe in a fictional world. Which is why I have written this post. I try and find a way to express my opinions without being nasty, and because if I say nothing these thoughts just keep me awake at night.

The thing is, in my opinion, is that not everybody is going to be ok with everybody. Not just in the area of skin color, but in what school you attend, or whether you say tomato or tomawto. Or whether you mention your religious beliefs online. Some people will not have it. There was a time when I let that stop me from sharing my thoughts on how I worship, now I know that other people’s opinions are their opinions and that the reality is their opinions have nothing to do with how my life is lived.

In writing my books about The Jeffersons and about the TV sitcom Maude, I have had to figure out how to connect the fiction of a television program’s scripts with real life in order to be able to write an interesting, relevant and entertaining book. And believe you me, some of these shows dealt with some serious and controversial reality issues, even while providing laughs. For instance, in the Maude episode “The Kiss”, Maude catches her next door neighbor, Vivian kissing her (Maud’s) husband, Walter. Walter gives her an explanation about how Vivian and Maude are such good friends and how that spills over to Walter and somehow they were just consoling each other as friends. And Maude seems to go along with the explanation. Of course, I’m sitting there watching this and screaming at my laptop BS!! I don’t know too many women who would go for THAT explanation in real life!

I appreciate your stopping by and spending some time with me and my thoughts. Until next time, thanx. πŸ™‚ Tell your friends about me. Share the love. Comments and shared experiences are always welcome. Stay safe.

Black History: A Woven Fabric

Bea Arthur & Marlene Warfield

Welcome, welcome back, hi! I am going to post with Black History in mind as this is February. When I started this blog my focus was on my father, a Black man. It was his biography as opposed to being about Black history. In writing Eddie’s story it was not possible to only write about other Black people. I wrote about how Eddie succeeded during a time when Blacks had to struggle to come up in a world that included White people. History is about, to my mind, the story of Life before the Present. And my father’s story is definitely Black history. The sitcom Maude is a part of Black History, too.

I have begun researching a book about the TV sitcom Maude, staring Bea Arthur, from the 1970s. Connecting this show with Black History never crossed my mind until a few days ago when I received a request regarding a woman who played the third maid during the 1977-1978 seasons of Maude. Her name is Marlene Warfield and she is a Black woman. Ms. Warfield is alive and well and enjoying life well away from the spotlight these days, as are others I’ve tried to contact who were associated with the show. During my research, I have become fascinated with Ms. Warfield’s involvement in the entertainment business. It is just amazing to me when I discover new information about people that ought to be shared with others, in my opinion, simply because of the inspiration it could provide. Which is why I wrote my father’s story. Happily, a lot of these people happen to be Black.

James Earl Jones tells off a former paramour, Marlene Warfield, in the play, “The Great White Hope” on Oct. 10, 1968. Location is unknown. (AP Photo)

Before appearing on Maude, Ms. Warfield won the Clarence Derwent Award in 1969 for Outstanding Broadway Debut Performance for the role of Clara in The Great White Hope, which she reprised in the 1970 film version. The Clarence Derwent Awards are theatre awards given annually by the Actors’ Equity Association on Broadway in the United States and by Equity, and the performers’ union, in the West End in the United Kingdom. Clarence Derwent (23 March 1884 – 6 August 1959) was an English actor, director, and manager. His will stipulated that two $500 prizes were to be given out annually to the best individual male and female supporting performances on Broadway and a Β£100 prize to the best supporting performances in the West End according to an online site History for Sale.

Her co-star was Mr. James Earl Jones. James Earl Jones was so good in this movie that I hated him in real life for the next few years. What a movie! He actually won a Tony award in 1969 for his role in the play. Of course my younger readers may remember James Earl Jones was the voice of “Luke, I am your father.”

Ms. Warfield appeared in many more roles on TV and in movies, such as Across 110th Street (1972), Network (1976) written by Paddy Chayevsky, she played Laureen Hobbs with Faye Dunaway and William Holden (ooh la la), Maude, The Jeffersons, Little House on the Prairie, Perry Mason, In The House, and ER.

Black History is woven into our lives. Sometimes we have to search for it. In the case of my father, Eddie Green, born in 1891, though he became a a well-known personality by the time of his death in 1950, his presence had somehow been overshadowed and hidden from recognition-until I wrote the book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. My Black History for sure.

Hey, thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚

Connectedness

I love connections. While considering what to write today I decided to do a bit of research on Conrad Bain. He is the actor who portrayed Arthur Harmon, Maude’s neighbor, on the TV sitcom Maude from 1972-1978. My third book is going to be on the Maude sitcom. I’ve been concentrating on Bea Arthur because she played the title character. However, I liked watching Conrad Bain in the sitcom. I thought he was a funny man. A good actor. Seems I was a big fan of shows produced by Norman Lear. I actually connected with Mr. Lear in 2019 for a short telephone interview regarding The Jeffersons, which is my second book.

I am still working on my second book about the TV sitcom The Jeffersons. Take my advice – do not get lazy during your writing venture. And maybe get some friends to help you proof your manuscript. Anywho, I discovered that Conrad Bain was in the last episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1996. What does this fact have to do with The Jeffersons? Well, in that episode the Banks, represented by Will Smith, sold their house to the Jeffersons, portrayed by Sherman Hemsley and Isabelle Sanford, who stopped by to view the house on the same day that Phillip Drummond, portrayed by Conrad Bain, dropped by.

My books are connected by the actors in these sitcoms. I did not set it up to be that way. I think it is just supposed to be this way because the process has been smooth and uncomplicated, mostly.

Mr. Bain also appeared in three episodes of Dark Shadows which I used to watch religiously. He was the desk clerk at the Collinsport Hotel. Funny how the mustache makes him look so different. During his acting career Mr. Bain appeared not just on TV, but on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in films, including The Anderson Tapes and Postcards from the Edge. Mr. Bain was 89 years old in 2013 when he died. I would have liked to have been able to connect with him.

Connectedness. If by no other way than by being human beings, we are all connected. I like to see that as a good thing. That way I feel less lonely. Stay safe. Wave to your neighbors.

And thanks, for stopping by.

I Shouldn’t Have Left You

Without a Dope Beat to step to. I heard that on the radio the other day and I thought what a great title for a post. It’s a line from the song “Try Again: by Aaliyah. It’s been over a month since I wrote a post. As a matter of fact, I’ve been putting a little extra time into getting one of my father’s songs sampled or re-recorded by a more current artist. The song was “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” written by my father in 1917. In 1919 A White lady named Marion Harris, one of the first White women to sing the “Blues”, recorded the song and it sold over a million copies. They probably thought the song was a dope beat, or groovy, or, no, they thought it was Jake, Jack. Though the beat was too mellow to step to, unless you knew how to do the foxtrot. Or maybe the ukulele version lent itself to dancing. Bessie Smith version is definitely “Bluesy”. Anywho, I and my friends are working at trying to come up with a version that would be more modern. The closest I’ve found is Salt N Pepa’s Whatta Man – “‘cuz good men are hard to find”.

Now this version is a good toe-tapper: Fats Waller

Most of the other versions are a lot slower. I’m thinking of possibly having someone do a hip-hop version ft. Lil somebody: “You gotta Hug him in the mornin’, kiss him at night, give him plenty lovin, shawty, treat your man right, ’cause “a good man is hard to find” girl, I said a good man is hard to find, so work your stuff, girl, dadadadaBOOM. ” It needs a dope beat.

We need a dope beat. Something to lift us out of the low spot we’ve been in this year due to the Pandemic. Not to mention Life’s other slings and arrows. Writing about and focusing on the things my father accomplished in his life puts a smile on my face. Some of the other songs he wrote have really funny titles, like: You Can Read my Letters, but You Sure Can’t Read My Mind”, Or this one he wrote with Clarence Williams, You’ve Got the Right Key, But the Wrong Keyhole. Can you imagine someone recording The Right Key today? Comedians would have a field day. Find something that makes you smile and share it with someone.

Stay safe, find a dope beat and step to it.

And thanks, for stopping by. πŸ˜‰

DESPERATE MEASURES

Theresa Harris – The Velvet Touch

I am desperate to get away from today’s news, which takes away my pleasure from finishing my latest book and pursuing information for my next book. So I decided to post about something that could perk me up. And I discovered that WordPress has reworked posting section. Let’s see if I can figure it out. Just so you know this is not a younger picture of me, though she is pretty. This is Theresa Harris. An American film actress, singer and dancer, born in 1906. I came across her while searching for something pleasant to write about.

TCM (Turner Classic Movies) had a pre-code movie showing in September and seems that this young lady played a major role in this era and after this era, but received almost no attention despite her skills. Theresa Harris attended Jefferson High School, studied at UCLA and studied also at the Zoellner’s Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles (the most celebrated musical organization in the West which devotes its energies exclusively to the highest class of chamber music) in the early 1920s before joining the Lafayette Players, an African American stock theater that performed at places like the Ebell Theater from 1928-1932.

Ms. Harris began her acting career in movies in 1931. Over her career, she appeared in at least 90 films, the last one in 1958. The pre-code years were good years for her as an actress because she played substantial roles that showcased her acting abilities. However, as time went on she was relegated to roles as a maid, or a bystander or a hat check girl.

In one of her pre-code movies, Baby Face (1933) she was Chico, friend of Barbara Stanwyck’s character. In Hold Your Man (1933) with Jean Harlow, she had a featured role as Lily Mae Crippen (uncredited). However, in 1936 she appeared as an angel (uncredited) in The Green Pastures, starring Rex Ingrahm, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and Clarence Muse (also an angel) and Ernest Whitman. The last three gentlemen were also friends of my father, Eddie Green. In 1938 she was Zette, (credited) the maid in Jezebel with Bette Davis.

By the 40s most of her roles varied as to how important they were to the plot in how the role was listed and whether she received credit or not, but by now they were mostly maid roles, as in The Velvet Touch (1948) as Nancy (credited) with Rosalind Russell, or Miracle on 34th Street (1947-a good year) as the Walker’s maid. (uncredited), or The Big Clock (1948) as Daisy the Stroud’s maid (uncredited), with Ray Milland. Ms. Harris made over 30 movies in the 1940s. And at least 52 movies in the 1930s.

In 1950 she was Esther (credited) in The File on Thelma Jordan with Barbara Stanwyck. She continued to make more movies until 1958. Obviously, somebody liked her style. In those days, as it seems to be, still, today, if you were Black and wanted to get ahead in the profession you had to work extra hard and then some, especially if you were not willing to give up your principles. Ms. Harris was well aware that the color of her skin meant that she would not get much of a chance to rise above the level of maid in Hollywood, post pre-code. In her words: “I never had the chance to rise above the role of maid in Hollywood movies. My color was against me anyway you looked at it.”

She managed to get a few small good roles and she even appeared on television. She lasted three decades in the movie world. No scandals. No bitterness. But she knew the reality of the times she was just doing what she loved to the best of her ability. The thing that really impressed me is that during all of these years, she invested the money she made, and when she retired she was quite comfortable, thank you.

I salute her for her courage, her stick-to-it-tiveness and for being a role model of how to be successful for ones self.

I do hope this publishes correctly and does not look all willy-nilly. Thanks, for stopping by.

Stay safe & Keep Coming Back

But Was it Funny?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe its just about being funny.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, for stopping by.

 

 

 

courage

Baltimore1890horsedrawnambulance
Baltimore 1890 Horsedrawn Ambulance-courtesy Google Images

It’s not always easy to figure out how to begin a post. Especially if my brain wants to think about something else, like going to the store to buy cookies (I just discovered Biscoff Lotus cookies). Or if my brain simply doesn’t want to work at all. But since the pandemic has blown up again it’s good for me to sit here and share. Between this latest virus and the riots across the world I fear for us (people). It’s difficult to see a future of joy and happiness. However, I know that we, as human beings are capable of having such a future. In life today though it seems that Blacks still have to fight the hardest to be happy. It seems that more and more Black men are being shot by police. Can this change for the better? Judging by the past I think that it can, however, it will be a mighty long process. When my father was born, 1891 and as he performed as a comedian through the Southern states of America, Blacks wereΒ  being lynched on a constant basis.

As far as pandemics go, when he was a small child in East Baltimore he lived with typhus due to the fact that there was no sewage system, especially in the poor neighborhoods. By 1890 Baltimore Harbor was a national joke. While other cities in Europe and in the United States had installed sewers Baltimore had not. Outbreaks of cholera, typhoid or other diseases occurred fairly often. City code required indoor toilets, but it was up to individual property owners to build cesspools, cisterns, or gutters. These emptied into an unfortunate stream called the Jones Falls; its polluted course ran from the wealthier to the poorer areas of town and finally into the harbor. As Eddie’s family were desperately poor this was one reason he left home at nine years old-he wanted to find a better life for himself.

Perrybradford-1200x1200-croppedI have been asked to do an essay on a Mr. Perry Bradford. Perry was born in 1893. As a vaudeville performer and composer and songwriter, he too worked in theater circuits throughout the South and into the North. I imagine that he had the same worries as every other Black man in the South at that time. But he had a goal in mind. Bradford persevered in getting the recording industry to value recordings of African-American artists. In 1957, Little Richard had a hit with Bradford’s “Keep A-Knockin'”. In 1965 he wrote his autobiography Born With the Blues. Later in 1994 his song “Crazy Blues” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Perry lived a long time, too. He died in 1970.

ArlandoSmithMore recently, there was Arlando Smith, born 1952. Arlando came up during the Civil Rights era, police with hoses and dogs and batons. He worked at becoming successful. Arlando was a TV writer and director. During my research for my book on The Jeffersons I learned about this gentleman. He worked on What’s Happening Now, All In The Family, Silver Spoons, 227, The Richard Pryor Show, She’s The Sheriff, The Robert Guillaume Show. The Jeffersons (2 episodes) and Malcolm and Eddie. He was the stage manager for All in the Family, 51st Annual Academy Awards, The Richard Pryor Show, What’s Happening, Sanford and Son, That’s My Mama, Good Times, and The Jeffersons (48 episodes). In 2015 when Arlando Cooper Smith died The San Pedro Sun reported that: “Smith was an award-winning director who directed the first episode of La Isla Bonita Telenovela. He also contributed to several American television series, Arlando Cooper Smith made the Isla Bonita his home, has selflessly supported the island in ways too numerous to count for many years. He will be missed by all those who knew and loved him.”

These gentlemen became successful in their fields despite the Race issue, despite lynchings, typhus, and lack of money. Despite hard times. You don’t hear too much about these men. Until I wrote the book about my father few people knew of his many contributions to the entertainment industry. These men were either forgotten or overshadowed. Or simply not known about because of their positions in the background as opposed to being a principal character on a program. Because of who they were-their character-and because of their courage they achieved success, friendship and love.

May we all have courage.