My second book, The Jeffersons A fresh look back featuring episodic insights, interviews, a peek behind-the-scenes, and photos, was published on June 22, 2022, my birthday. On August 17th in Los Angeles, I will be hosting a book event. Book Soup 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, Ca. 7:00pm.
It took a few years, a re-write and some anxious moments (hours, haha), but I did it. Some great people helped me by granting interviews and sharing their memories. The book contains a lovely Foreword by Marla Gibbs and an Endword by Associate Professor John H. McWhorter, an extremely impressive person in my estimation. I am so happy to share this with you. Let your friends and relatives know and stop by if you are in the vicinity. Christmas is coming and I think this book will make an excellent present. Mr. McWhorter says it is a good source book for you Jefferson fans. Marla is sure you will find the book as interesting as she did.
I have segued into my third book about the TV program Maude. The show ran from 1972 to 1978 and starred Bea Arthur as Maude. There is going to be a strong emphasis on Bea Arthur in and out of character. She was a great actor, I think, and her many credits, not just those for Maude and Golden Girls, have proven this to me through my research. As a person, Bea Arthur or Beatrice Arthur or Bernice Frankel is quite interesting and I hope to write an enjoyable book about her and those with whom she worked, including the seal. Hahaha, Thanks, for stopping by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fL2rStFnc8able
Don’t forget my debut book about my father: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer – Both are on Amazon
Hello again, I’m finally paying attention to my WordPress world. I’m wrestling with my 3rd book on the TV Sitcom Maude, which means I have not been able to share much here. When I wrote my first book about my father I did not know as much about him as I did after I wrote the book. But he was my father, and over the course of his life a lot was written about him in the newspapers because he was a rising star in Entertainment and people liked him as a person. I learned about his personal character through articles and of course, through my mom. In writing about Maude I am wanting to get to know more about the person who played the character, Bea Arthur, to understand how Arthur was able to so completely BE Maude.
In an article in the Nyak New York Journal, 1974, titled “No, I’m Not Maude”, she stated: “Although I can rant and rave as much as Maude does when the need arises. I don’t have her persistence. If someone calls my bluff and yells back at me. I usually back down. In all honesty. I’m afraid the tiger in my tank is really a pussycat. And I can’t identify too closely with the women’s lib movement, either, because I’ve always felt liberated.” Arthur, when she is at home, likes browsing in antique shops, watching old movies on TV, and doing family activities, dogs and all.
In a way, I identify with Bea Arthur. Because as I’ve listened to her interviews and talked with people who met her she does seem rather complex. I came across a 1968 article that was written while Arthur and her husband Gene Sax were making a movie titled “A Mother’s Kisses,” she was urged to accept the leading role. She said yes — if her husband could direct. “After all,” she says in her familiar tones of authoritative femininity, “I’m the power behind the throne.” So it seems that though she is a pussycat, she also has an authoritative side, according to the person who witnessed her “authoritative femininity.”
Bea Arthur as Maude was Maude to her viewers, she received many letters attesting to that fact. After reading her statement in that 1974 article I believe she knew that maybe a bit of her own personality was injected into her character, this is what she was quoted as saying: “You see, it was my intention from the beginning of the series to show that there is a soft spot or two in Maude’s armor of steel, and its’ gratifying to know that viewers see her as I do.”
I could see these two personality traits when Cousin Maude was introduced into All in the Family. She was asked by Edith to come and help with the family as they were all down with the flu. Archie did not like Cousin Maude and sent her a letter telling her not to come. She came. At the beginning of the episode, while comforting Edith, she looks at Archie with a scathing look and says: “MAUdie is here.” Towards the end of the episode, she has a sweet smile on her face while assuring Archie that “Maudie is here.”
Bea Arthur, a consummate actor. She brought her all to Maude. Looks like I am going to have to bring my all to the writing of my take on the sitcom. Thanks for hanging in here with me. You are all a part of my “becoming” a writer.
The other day I was browsing my facebook friend’s comments and I saw a comment regarding a Black Male Opera Singer. I had not heard of this person before and said so in my reply. My friend sent a message back: “You’ve never heard of George Shirley? Where have you been?” Well, I thought, for the past __-odd years I’ve been right here on planet earth. But I had not heard of Mr. Shirley. He probably had not heard of me, either. Although my mother had been an aspiring opera singer before she married my father back in 1945. So, from the beginning of my life I was immersed in the world of opera through my mom. I saw my first opera at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles-Hansel and Gretel. I still have the memory of my mother practicing Ave Maria on our piano. I was assaulted every day by mom’s opera records that she played loudly while she cleaned. But she either played Marian Anderson or Madama Butterfly or some other female, I don’t remember hearing male opera stars in our house.
As a child it never dawned on me to question the race of the stars I heard. I didn’t really take note of that until I became an adult. Probably not until I saw my first “Porgy and Bess” where I fell totally in love with Porgy, he was handsome, well-shaped, and that voice! Before seeing this guy, I knew of the four tenors, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Mario Lanza, and Lucianno Pavoratti. I knew of Rossano Brazzi, who began early as a child in an operatta, and who I heard in “South Pacific”. I still get chills watching him sing to the woman in the movie. I knew of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald (I love her voice) from watching them in movies on television. Of course, I heard my mother sing. I found out much later that she had been a favorite back in the day through an article in The California Eagle newspaper that said: Tip to Talent Scouts: Keep your ears on Norma Amato’s delightful thrushing. She has the kind of voice you hear only in a dream.
As I got older I began to realize the presence of Black female opera stars such as Kathleen Battle and Leontyne Price. They began to have a forward presence in my brain. But I just had not taken a lot of notice or even cared about seeing more Black male opera stars. I blame this on my parents. Well, on my mom and my step-father, and my aunt Dot. They didn’t play male opera singers on their record players. They played Big Joe Turner or Joe Williams, Black jazz singers, or Nat King Cole. My aunt Dot was a Dinah Washington fanatic and LOVED Billy Eckstein! Their album covers were always prominent (my relatives did a lot of partying). But I never saw one Black male opera star album in our house. I saw Black boxers on TV ’cause my step-father loved boxing. Plus we never discussed race in our family. Definitely not as it pertained to progress.
Except when it came to sports. Baseball, Boxing, Football, Boxing, Boxing. Basketball. Mom and my step-dad even had a bookie joint going on in one of our houses. Then I was out on my own and the seventies came around and the party was on in my life. Black male opera singers were the furthest thing from my mind. Give me some James Brown, Teddy Pendergrass, Lionel Ritchie, 50 cent, Johnny Mathis, Run DMC, babee. Now, today, I have gained some new knowledge. I’ve been introduced to the singing of Black male opera singer George Shirley.
Mr. Shirley has a beautiful voice. His voice reminds me of what it is I like about the opera. The voices touch my soul, and my heart. They transport me into a different realm. They bring me peace and love. I think my mother should have introduced me to more opera sung by Black men. I think Black parents should tell their kids about Black male opera singers, not just Black sports figures. We have so many talented Black men in this field. They deserve a bit of adoration, too. And a lot more mention, in my opinion.
In 1961, George Shirley won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions thus becoming the first African American tenor to be awarded a contract with the Met as a leading artist, the beginning of an eleven-year association. Over the span of his career, George has had a vested interest in helping African American students reach their full potential. In 1962 Leontyne Price and George Shirley two Negro-American singers will be featured as stars of two operas that are already sold out.
In 2015, through my research During the writing of my father’s biography I did learn of another Black tenor who was my father’s friend, Mr. Chauncey Northern. Here is a quote from a newspaper article from 1928: Mr. Northern who successfully interpreted the title role of the opera “Othello,” In Naples, Italy, recently, and his four brothers, comprising the Northern’ Brothers Quartet, will be heard in the New York Edison Hour tonight at 8 o’clock on WRNY. The program will Include solos by Chauncey Northern and quartet numbers, spirituals and characteristic negro melodies-which are recognised as true folk music of this country.
Mr. Northern would later work with my father in Eddie’s Sepia-Art Pictures Studio in the 1940s: Chauncey Northern, well-known tenor who is also a recognized voice specialist and coach, has joined the Sepia-Art Motion Pictures Company as head of its music department. In this capacity, Mr. Northern will have charge of the arranging of voices for the choir which will be a permanent feature with this organization. Sepia-Art Pictures expects great things to be accomplished by these young singers under the careful and comprehensive direction of Mr. Northern. His studios, located in Carnegie Hall, are the mecca of many of the great artists of today.
So, I’ve been exactly where I was supposed to be especially here and now so that I could be the recipient of some wonderful news about a Black male opera singer who has a gorgeous voice that I get to listen to on social media. Thank you for your glorious musical contribution Mr. Shirley.
Thanks, for stopping by, stay tuned for more from me. 🙂
My last post for Women’s History Month. I really almost forgot about this celebration. I’ve been watching Murdoch Mysteries online and they have been shooting during the Suffrage Movement and it is amazing to me what women have had to go through just trying to live their lives to the fullest. And women are still clawing their way to reach heights their male counterparts have reached. I saw a post on Facebook about Joyce Brown, 1920-2015, pictured above, about a week ago. She was a Broadway musical conductor. I had never heard of her, even though she was the first African-American female Broadway musical conductor. The article I read was written in 2017 for ESPN. The article mentioned a statement she made about being spoken of as a musical prodigy who became Broadway’s first African-American female musical conductor of a show beginning its opening night, in 1970. Setting aside the fact that she was Black she said “I would have gotten the job anyhow because the competency is there.” She said she worked hard and was a reliable person. As this article noted there is not much more information online about Brown, as if she had been totally forgotten or not worth remembering through the years.
So you know I had to do some research. I found a little extra information in the Nassau New York Newsday newspaper from 1970 By Leo Seligsohn. It was about the Broadway play Purlie and it’s “rocking”, “swaying”, orchestra conductor, Joyce Brown. The 1970 program starred Cleavon Little and Melba Moore, with Sherman Hemsley as Gitlow. As you might know, I just finished my book on The Jeffersons where I mention that Purlie is where Norman Lear saw and snatched up Hemsley to play George Jefferson. The extra information I found had this “Purlie” ad.
AN UNCOMMONLY GOOD ORCHESTRA AND A BOUNCY CONDUCTOR, JOYCE BROWN, TO LEAD THE FESTIVITIES. MISS BROWN RATES APPLAUSE ALONG WITH HER MUSICIANS AND SINGERS.
I am placing a piece of the article that came alongside the ad from 1970 because it celebrates Joyce Brown’s work magnificently:
“Standing in the pit In a state of perpetual motion, she is giving them all the life and spirit within her, rocking, swaying and breathing love into almost every note and syllable of the lyrics and score. Singing and dancing their hearts out there on the stage of the Broadway Theater, the cast members are giving it back in a mutual transference of psychic energy that is something to see. The woman is Joyce Brown, musical director of “Purlie.” Just before the beginning of the second act the spotlight picks her out and she takes a small bow. At the show’s conclusion, or what should be its conclusion, she keeps conducting and the orchestra continues playing in a rising crescendo of audience and orchestra-Joyce Brown togetherness. Theatrical? Perhaps. But there is an incandescence and a realness about Miss Brown.”
The article goes on the say that Ms. Brown was a bit put off by a note in the program that said she was making history by being the first black woman to conduct the opening of a Broadway show, because, she said, she was simply a woman trying to perform her craft the best she ever had in her life. She said that Race had never hampered her career. Which for me harkens back to what my father, Eddie Green, said about his career in the early 1900s, that if you’ve got the talent, you get respect; and that the best recipe for success is to find something you like to do and do the best you know how. Joyce Brown knew her craft, she liked what she did, she also taught other women by listening and coaching in productions like “Hair” in 1972. She knew she was good at what she did and she had fun with it. Self-assurance is what she demonstrates, still. She will not be forgotten.
Stay safe, you all, and thanks, for stopping by. If you are so inclined you may share this post, good news is always appreciated. 🙂
What does today’s war news have in common with the fact that I am writing a new book about the 1970s TV Sitcom “Maude”? Well, I’ve been trying to write a positive post this week about the sitcom but I just could not see how to try and insert positivity into such a sad world situation. Then I went online and typed in “1970s” just to get some ideas. First thing that popped up was about the anti-Vietnam war protests, a colossal movement to say the least.
Then there was the women’s movement as women gained success in business, politics, education, science, the law, and even the home. As far as television went Maude’s producers and creators were right on time as she was portrayed as a strong, independent, liberal feminist.
Then, as I was going through my social media sites I found the perfect post giving a brilliant explanation of this latest war that I think has a much deeper relevance to Life (with a capital L). I cannot credit the writer as I do not know who it is but I can give you the gist of what it said: She (one side of the war) was in an abusive relationship but she fed him, let him use her car, etc., until she built up the confidence to call it quits. She began working on herself, becoming a strong, independent woman with help and support from her friends. She was single for a number of years. Then The toxic ex (the other side of the war) showed up and wants her back. He started sitting outside her house, her friends tried to warn her that he might do her harm, but he said her friends were lying to her. Then the ex broke into her house and beat her up and dared her friends to do something about it.
I identify with a lot of this explanation. For me, it is about the fact that there are wars going on somewhere, every day. It may not get plastered all over the news media, but it’s there. And we need to somehow learn to love and care for each other in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in the market, on the roads. As countries. We must learn to help each other simply because we don’t want to do away with our existence on Planet Earth, or do we?
Of course, it was not all doom and gloom in the 1970s. Which, thank heavens, let’s me write about something truly positive. There was Disco. Donna Summer, babee. The beginning of rap – The Sugarhill Gang with “Rapper’s Delight”. Gil Scott – “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. At the movies we saw Star Wars, Jaws, Grease, The Exorcist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, The Godfather. And, as for the women’s movement, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and even won Helen a Grammy Award.
Which brings me back to Maude. Uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilzin’, right on Maude. What I heard Mr. Norman Lear call a “leaning into life” character. Strong, outspoken, no-nonsense, liberal wife and mom. Played beautifully by Bea Arthur. Arthur said herself that the only thing that she had in common with her character, Maude, was that they were both tall and had deep voices. But Bea Arthur was such a good actor you forgot that Maude was a TV character. In one episode “The Analyst” Bea does a 22 minute monologue to a psychiatrist (actually an empty chair) that blew me so far away it wasn’t funny. The writing, by Jay Folb, read like parts of my own life. I was Maude laying on the doctor’s couch, crying and crying. She was so good. Mr. Folb received an Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series nomination for this episode.
There is an article about the episode at the Paley Center for Media in New York on line. The Paley Center for Media explores how media influences attitudes, behaviors, and actions, as well as shapes public discourse, on important social and cultural issues.
I hope we can all Study War No More and lay our burdens Down By The Riverside. I love you all, thanks for stopping by.
This week I received a much awaited Foreword for my book on the 70s TV sitcom “The Jeffersons.” I was thrilled to receive it. Thrilled that this very well-known actor would put their name on MY book. Little ole me. Yes, this is my second book. I am a published author. But this seemed to give me some extra clout. Something I hadn’t looked for or expected when I started this writing journey. Especially at this time in my life. When a lot of people are “enjoying retirement”. I’m just still living life. And realizing what I have come through to get to today’s achievements. I felt so thankful I just started crying. And then I started thinking about some of the bad stuff I’ve been through.
The depression hit hard. My early life was good. Could not have been better. My father was a successful entertainer and my mother was a beautiful opera singer and violinist. Eddie died when I was 3. My tap dancing lessons stopped and things got real quiet around our house.
A couple of years later Mom sold our house and we moved with her new husband to the “east side” of Los Angeles. Money ran out, I had to leave Catholic School and go to grammar school. I was light-skinned and became the girl that got bullied. Thanks to my mom I loved music. And dancing. I had decided I wanted to be a singer. At age 8 I formed my own front porch group. Singing became my focus. Our new family life was chaotic to say the least. After mom started having my siblings I became the “baby-sitter”. A lot of crazy things happened during those years so I started spending a lot of time away from home. I found boys. Alcohol. At 21 I stopped my singing career and became a working mom. Family issues pursued me. My own issues pursued me. Somehow I came through sorta sane. I stopped drinking and smoking. I went to Therapy. I became a grandma. Oh boy! I retired from my Admin Assistant job at the VA. And just lived life the best I could. Trying not to focus on what could have been, and how life should have been. Then I wrote a book.
The other day while feeling elated and depressed at the same time I got online and for some reason I wound up listening to Elton John – I think he has a concert coming up. The first song I turned to was “I’m Still Standing. He was at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. Then I listened to his performance at The Royal Opera House in 2002. Some of his stuff reminded me of Isaac Hayes Hot Buttered Soul album. I discovered that during his appearance he mentioned Burt Bacharach/Hal Davis, the 2 men who wrote “Walk On By” which was a track on Isaac’s album. One of the songs Elton played at the Opera House reminded me of Isaac Hayes’ “By the Time I get to Phoenix.” It was the strings and horns on both of those albums.
Elton’s playing also reminded me of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”. Would you believe that I actually found a recording of Elton John singing “Johnny B. Goode” in 1979. I felt a lot better after listening to these guys. I love the connectedness. Hey, thanx for hangin’ in here with me.
I know that Life is not all peaches and cream, but when I look back on my childhood comic characters I get a real feeling of happiness. A feeling absent all the bad stuff that may have been happening then in the news (the bouncing ball murderer), or in the home (new step-father because father died). I received a Harvey Comics book as a prize and I love it! Little Huey, Richie Rich, Litle Dot and Casper flying through the air. Free and easy. Fantasy. I still want Life to be like a Fantasy. The way it seemed to be in the 50s and 60s. The way it was when, sometimes, I would come home from school and mom would have the windows open with the curtains blowing in the breeze while she washed dishes and listened to opera. When I was taught to not use God’s name in vain and to always cross myself when I passed a church. To be respectful.
Today our society seems to want to embrace and show its anger. So much so that we now have to censor ourselves on social media. A loss of freedom. The thing is our world actions have led to watching what we say, even if what we say is simply a line from a TV program. I am not free to comment on social media without first making sure my words are not invoking some kind of violence. I posted on Facebook a line from a Twilight Zone TV episode with Telly Savalas. “My name is Tina and I am going to **** you.” The title of the episode is Living Doll. Facebook admonished me for posting incendiary language. They did not suspend me but they might next time. Our need to be angry is skewing our freedom. I do not blame one man for not pointing out the bad apples and deleting them, because there are so many unhappy people out there. Once I posted a comment and someone replied to me that they hoped someone would try to drown me and no one was there to save me. I was so astonished I replied “No you don’t! You don’t even know me! What would your mother think if she heard you say that!? People today no longer care what their mother would say. So now I have to censor myself on Facebook. In the Twilight Zone episode the doll did not like Telly Savalas so she warned him of her plan for him.
I know that Norman Lear chose to make TV sitcoms that brought laughter into peoples lives. He knew about the rough times and wanted to introduce some fun into our evenings. Hence, shows like Maude. This sitcom did include dark humor, controversy and drama, it was also quite funny at times. Bea Arthur had a magnificent handle on comedy. She said on an interview that the fact that she had work on her own show made her feel like a “middle-aged Cinderella.” Awwww, that’s nice.
Good Times, executive produced by Lear, was definitely about living with laughter and positivity even though life certainly came with problems. Weeping Wanda, played by Helen Martin was always good for a laugh and don’t forget Johnny Brown as Buffalo Butt. I loved this show. It was funny and sometimes, carefree. I was a single mother with an 8 year old daughter, I needed a TV sitcom or two in the evenings. Even the Twilight Zone episodes sometimes made me laugh. After all, who ever heard of a talking doll? Too bad when Telly fell down the stairs, though, wasn’t it? LMAO
May this be a year that tempers our anger, relieves our anxieties and allows us to feel free and easy.
I am sending out Love vibes to all. Thanks, for stopping by.
Maude was a 1970s TV sitcom created by the brilliant Norman Lear. Brilliant because all of his TV sitcoms were hits. Back then there was one big similarity in his shows, they were all so loud. When I was researching The Jeffersons, another Lear creation, I found many newspaper articles complaining about how loud the Jeffersons characters were, loud and rude to each other. People wanted to know why a Black family had to be portrayed in such an unfavorable light. Well, starting with the very first episode of Maude, I had to turn the volume down on my laptop. Maude hollers at Walter, the husband, Carol (the daughter, hollers at Maude, when their neighbor Arthur, comes over, they all holler at him-during the second episode Arthur shouts that he will never set foot in their house again! The sitcom went on from there for six seasons. Crazy! Of course, 30 some-odd years later I am probably a lot more sensitive to loud noises. Be that as it may, Maude was indeed a hit comedy show, and Bea Arthur was exactly the right choice to play her.
Bea Arthur was an accomplished actor by the time she was chosen for this part. She made her TV debut in 1951 on Once Upon a Tune a weekly half-hour television series that aired on the Dumont Television Network, and had started acting on stage in 1947.
This post however is about how one of the very first episodes helped make this show of relevance to its viewers. On September 19, 1972, the episode “Doctor, Doctor” aired. In this episode, Arthur, the next-door neighbor (who was a doctor), found his granddaughter and Maude’s grandson playing doctor behind the garage, without a stitch of clothes on. Arthur was incensed. He wanted the grandson, Phillip, punished. Maude and her daughter, Carol, played by Adrienne Barbeau, poo poo’ed the idea saying they were just kids and interested in their bodies. Big loud argument ensues. Should Phillip be punished or not?
This episode was relevant to me because…….one day I went out into our yard where the owner had a shed and I found my six-year-old daughter in the shed with my neighbor’s little son and they were both naked. I was aghast, but I didn’t know what to do so I called my mother. She said to me what was said in the Maude episode, that I should not spank her because that could make her ashamed of her body. Just tell both kids that it was not the right thing to do to take your clothes off outside and then take the little boy home and get on with my day.
I’m going to have to call Melony and ask her if she remembers that day. Probably not since she did not get a spanking. Haha.
Anywho, stick around, this sitcom’s topicality was varied and controversial and the portrayal of the characters was right on. As in “Right on, Maude.” Bea Arthur is a master of timing and provides a lot of laughs. I hope I can write a book on this show that throws out good vibes from the 70s.
Hey, thanks, for stopping by. Please visit us again. 🙂
Beatrice Arthur was born Bernice Frankel. She became known as Bea Arthur, actress, comedian. These days she gets a lot of notice as one of The Golden Girls, a TV sitcom from 1985-1992. However, this post and my new book are putting a light on Bea and her TV Sitcom, Maude, which ran from 1972-1978. Bea Arthur is no longer with us in person, but you can catch her in re-runs and read about her here over the next months as I post about my ongoing book writing journey.
The theme song of Maude mentions such women as Lady Godiva and Joan of Arc, but then it says: And then there’s Maude. Maude was evidently something else, something bigger, something more formidable; and to top it off, she was funny. Bea Arthur was given her own TV sitcom after she appeared as Edith Bunker’s Cousin Maude in the TV sitcom All in the Family. Her character was meant as the antithesis role to the Archie Bunker character and she was so good in that role, well, I’m sure you get the point.
Maude was a larger-than-life liberal broad. Bea Arthur, other than being tall, was not. According to a video Bea did which can be seen on Youtube her one great desire had been to not be so tall, to be a small, blond marvelous actress. Of course, her height was an asset to her career and once she realized how funny she could be her career blossomed.
In 1954 Bea Arthur performed as Lucy in Three Penny Opera, a German Musical by Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht. Yep, she was a singer. Her deep voice was great for those low notes. There is a Bea Arthur Pirate Jenny video on Youtube if you want to see her singing.
Bea Arthur was a professional at work. She was an actress. She became her character. Bea Arthur at home was a private person. You might say she was a homebody. I’ve been able to talk with a few people as part of my book research. What I am learning about the successful person is that they put in a lot of work to earn that success. Home ought to be a place where you can let your hair down, take your shoes off (which she did) and just be yourself.
Hey, I love you guys, thanks, for stopping by.
And don’t forget to buy my first book for yourself or a friend, adults and young people, Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. My Jeffersons book is being finalized.
In the photo above my father is the man seated to the left, leaning forward, with a smile on his face, Eddie Green. Eddie loved what he did. He loved the people he met. He was known as a “regular fellow.” To my knowledge, Eddie got along with most people. If trouble brewed in his presence, he moved on. I’ve been asked if I have any idea about his feelings about the racial hardships during his years in the entertainment industry. I can’t know his feelings, but I do know that he progressed through the early 1900s at a steady pace and always had a smile. According to newspaper articles he could be counted on to attend benefits at a moments notice and was always happy to oblige. Radio programs (White programs mostly, as there were not too many Black programs allowed in those days) called him back again and again. Rudy Vallee did ask for Louis Armstrong to do a summer radio stint for him on which Eddie and his comic partner, Gee Gee James, provided the comedy-so we did have that in 1937. The hosts loved him and the audience loved his humor. My mom never said a bad word about him. My god-father said when he blew into town from New York he took everyone’s breath away. He was my godfather’s bosom buddy. I believe Eddie had a plan to remove himself from the poverty of his childhood to pursue a better , happier life. He did not let societies ills get in his way. He did what was necessary and kept his focus on his goals and made sure he did the best job he could. And he prospered. In song writing, on the stage, in vaudeville, Vitaphone talkies, moviemaking, and early television. In St. Louis, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. From 1909 through 1950. Racial trouble did not stop Eddie. The fact that he was a Negro gave him much pride. It never gave him a reason to dislike people or to limit himself.
My last book is about the 70s TV sitcom “The Jeffersons,” an almost all-Black show, and I’ve been thinking about the race issue a lot. I’ve just noticed that I typed “all-black.” In Eddie’s day we were known as Negro. There was even a Negro Week at the World’s Fair in 1940. Eddie was at the World’s Fair Hosting the Miss Sepia America Beauty Contest.
In 1946 Eddie’s add in the newspapers read:
So, today, for some reason I started a conversation with myself on what I consider myself to be, race wise. On the 1940 Census my then sixteen year old mother was listed as “White.” My mother looked White, had an Italian father, but her mother, though she tried to pass, was a Negro according to HER parents 1920 census.
Eddie was listed in a news article once as “Ethiopian.” Yep, he was also a dancer. I imagine in this instance Ethiopia was another way of saying Black. On the 1940 Census he is listed as “Negro (Black).”
According to the African American Registry: Negro means “black” in both Spanish and Portuguese languages, is derived from the Latin word niger of the same meaning. The term “negro”, was used by the Spanish and Portuguese to refer to Black Africans. From the 18th century to the mid-20th century, “negro” (later capitalized) was considered the correct and proper term for African Americans. It fell out of favor by the 1970s in the United States. So if Eddie had still been alive would he have thought of himself as out of favor? Or would he have become “Black.”
Why did it fall out of favor if Negro literally means Black. Of course, when James Brown came out with the song “I’m Black and I’m Proud” I was all over that! I identify now as Black. But I could identify as Negro. Or Negro with Italian lineage. My maternal grandmother was so light she passed for White for quite a while. When Eddie courted my mom, my grandmother made him go around to the back door. Sounds sad. And there probably is some White blood in my grandmother’s past, back there in Virginia. Maybe I should identify as Ethiopian – it sounds regal. Yes, Queenly. That’s the thing now on t-shirts, social media – Black women are seeing themselves as Queens. Which is also a part of African history.
In this Jubilee 1943 Review online by arwulf arwulf, they are talking about Erskine Hawkins: When the “house band” was as hip as Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra, sparks really flew! The great non-musical bonus is the appearance of Eddie Green, a comedian who first achieved notoriety as a performer in the Hot Chocolates stage show in 1929, appearing on the cast recording Big Business with Fats Waller at the piano. By 1943 Green had become famous as a character on the radio program Duffy’s Tavern. Some nice person sent me this album, by the way.
Eddie, that guy in the top photo, became famous. He was a recurring character on the Amos n Andy radio program as Stonewall, the lawyer, while appearing on every episode of Duffy’s Tavern from 1941 to 1950