Black Way Back Radio

“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.”

This is a quote from my father, Eddie Green, the gentleman sitting in the above picture (for those of you new to my blog). This quote appeared in a 1947 newspaper article for which Eddie was interviewed. Eddie had actually started radio work back in the late 20s. He said this in an article from The Negro Digest in 1949 stating, “It was during the year 1929. I was living in New York and trying every kind of theatrical job that was available. I had already played all kinds of vaudeville, burlesque, musical comedy and a few small radio programs.”

His radio popularity started, however with the Fleishman’s Yeast Hour Rudy Vallee Show, as shown here in this line from a local newspaper The Pittsburgh Courier, the article is about Eddie’s inclusion into yet another radio program in 1935, it said, “this was nothing new to Eddie Green, who worked several seasons very successfully with Rudy Vallee, in fact, so successfully he was returned three times by popular demand.” Eddie  went on to become Eddie the waiter on the very popular Duffy’s Tavern Radio Program from 1941-1950.

When I started this blog and began writing a biography of my father, until about 2 weeks ago, it hadn’t sunk in just how rare a Black man’s performances or contributions to radio in the early 1900s were. Probably because I wasn’t coming from a Black point of view but from a personal inspirational and hopefully, motivational point of view. Using Eddie to show my grandson how one can accomplish their goals despite obstacles, and then to show the same to anyone who is doubting their abilities. I have been sharing on Old Time Radio (OTR) blogs with much success in regard to meeting people who are genuinely interested in Eddie’s OTR life. However, what dawned on me is that yes, he was on the radio, but the radio show’s themselves were White produced programs.

Duffy’s Tavern and Amos n Andy. Today these two programs are not talked about a lot on the groups I follow. These groups talk about the Gildersleeves, The Shadow, the Gildersleeves (no, this is not an error), Jack Benny, Johnny Dollar, Groucho Marx and other similar programs. While sharing about my father’s appearances on the first two programs I realized interactions with those other OTR fans is very limited because there were not many Blacks on the radio back then. Period. My brain said “as a matter of fact, how come no one ever talks about Black old time radio?” That’s when I woke up.

I began to research African-American OTR. I found a lot of articles, such as this one from J. Fred MacDonald that says: “Certainly, there were black radio performers like Eddie Anderson, Lillian and Amanda Randolph, Eddie Green, Hattie McDaniel, Ruby Dandridge, and Juano Hernandez, but their roles were either stereotypically comedic or insubstantial. And there were so many areas where African Americans never participated: No black men or women reported the news; there were no black sportscasters, no black soap operas; and no substantial black roles appeared in romances or dramas or Westerns or detective shows.

Tens of millions of citizens tuned in thousands of stations to hear news, sports, drama, comedy, and the various other formats by which broadcasters had adapted radio to aural entertainment. To staff such operations, moreover, the stations and networks employed countless numbers of writers, directors, actors, and technicians. Thus, aside from its popularity, the radio industry was a massive commercial operation. Despite its tremendous need for personnel, however, the industry in its so-called Golden Age offered only limited opportunities for black men and women to develop.”

This was borrowed from J. Fred MacDonald who died while I was writing my book in 2015 and whose archives by the end of the 20th century, were termed by the Library of Congress to be “the most important archive in private hands in the United States.”

I did find Richard Durham. Richard Durham was born September 6, 1917 in Raymond Mississippi and was raised in Chicago. He died April 24, 1984. Durham developed an interest for radio during the depression as a young dramatist with the Writers Project of the WPA. Durham studied at Northwestern University in Chicago and was the editor of the local black newspaper, The Chicago Defender. His first major radio experience came in Chicago with the series “Democracy USA”, which he wrote for the CBS station WBBM and with Here Comes Tomorrow, a black soap opera he wrote for WJJD. His radio program Destination Freedom premiered on June 27, 1948 on Chicago radio WMAQ and consisted of 91 different scripts produced solely by Richard Durham. Destination Freedom was a provocative half-hour show that showcased the lives and accomplishments of prominent African Americans. Did you notice he wrote a Black soap opera?

My father obviously knew what he was talking about when he said radio for Negroes was a very hard field to get into way back in the day. I am beginning to understand how much effort it took for my father to achieve his dream of becoming a show business personality, as a Black man. How truly difficult it was for a Black person to step into certain positions in the early 1900s in America. Eddie’s success was unusual, then. And it is still unusual for some to discuss today. This is just a reality. I am going to delve a bit more into this Black radio thing because it interests me very much.

It fits right in with my decision to become a Cheerleader for Trailblazers (this is going to be my twitter hashtag). So many people have done so much in this world that no one talks about or acknowledges. Not just Black trailblazers, though we have become more of a priority for me-but also of young trailblazers, female trailblazers, piano-playing trailblazers. Send me a trailblazing subject, I love research.

Thanks, for stopping by

Title of this post provided by Brian Beasley, my brother 🙂

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

 

 

 

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“The Whole Town is Talking About Eddie Green”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The skit from “Connie’s Hot Chocolates”, “Sending A Wire”, became a Warner Brother’s Vitaphone film that was said to be the funniest Vitaphone comedy act “which has yet been produced”, and that it “kept thousands shaking with laughter.” The film is registered in the Library of Congress as Sending A Wire, Eddie Green and Co. New York Age February 1, 1930.

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

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


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

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

Regarding Eddie Green’s performance on the radio program, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle said “The whole town is talking about Eddie Green, prime colored comic, who will put on one of the funniest skits on the stage. He will dash from the Hudson Theater immediately after the final curtain to the National Broadcasting Company where he will re-enact his side-splitting “Telegraph Office” skit for Commander Byrd and his crew.”  (Brooklyn Daily Eagle July 18, 1929).

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

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

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

A Cheerleader for TrailBlazers!!

On March 7th I had the best time doing a book talk at a local library here in Los Angeles. There was a nice group of people, snacks and tea and I was prepared. But, I was a bit nervous. I think I was worried about how “cute” I was, or not. I said “uh” a lot. After I shared the Toastmaster tips I was not following I got a laugh and I felt more at ease. I spoke for almost an hour. I passed photos around. One thing I have noticed is that once the audience begins to hear my father’s rags-to-riches story they become truly interested. They are amazed in some instances and sad in others. And they laugh. His story is inspiring. I love it. I have begun to want to be a Cheerleader for Trailblazers, not only Eddie, but others. I find that keeping in mind those that paved the way is a motivating factor for future endeavors. One of the things I talked about was that Eddie wrote the song “A Good Man is Hard to Find” way back in 1917. During the early 1920s Sophie Tucker loved this song so much she sang it in her nightclub act every night for ten weeks.

Depending on who was talking about it, the song was listed as a Blues song or a Fox Trot or as Jazz. Sophie did a Blues version. As you can see by this poster she was a red hot mamma, so you can imagine how she must have sang that song. After my talk at the library, a few of the people stayed around to talk with me. One of them was a gentleman who just happened to be a big Sophie Tucker fan and an Eddie Green fan. When I got home he had posted this message on my Facebook Book Page: “Dear Miss Green, I attended your talk at Memorial Library yesterday afternoon and enjoyed it very much. I am going to order the book from Amazon and look forward to reading it. Good luck to you and thank you for bringing Eddie Green back to life.” Now, of course, he did not know it but basically this is exactly what I was hoping to do with my book. Bring Eddie back to the fore of the public’s mind because of his many achievements during his lifetime which people have forgotten. What a treat to have spoken with this man.

The gentleman also told me a story I had never heard before about Sophie Tucker and Alberta Hunter. Alberta Hunter was an American jazz singer and songwriter who had a successful career from the early 1920s to the late 1950s. He saw Alberta Hunter on a late night talk show probably in the 60s or 70s. She was discussing the night she decided to sing “Sophie’s” song-A Good Man is Hard to Find-on stage. And so she did. With Sophie Tucker sitting right there in the audience. So there!! They each participated in making the song a big hit. The gentleman who told me this story also said he looked and looked for a Sophie Tucker recorded version and finally found it just by happenstance. And here he was now talking to the daughter of the man who wrote the song. This is one of the reasons I love doing these talks. I get to meet and connect with people who know about my father or want to know. Since Eddie died when I was three this is so special for me.

Eddie wrote the song in 1917 and sold it in 1918. He was pretty poor back then and I’m sure needed the money. He didn’t know the song was going to become a mega best-seller and that people today, still, are recording and performing his song over 100 years later. Impresses the heck outta me.

I do request that you ask for the book at your local library so that they will stock it. Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. And tell your friends.

Thanks, for stopping by.

Oh No!!

To those new to this blog, say Hi to my father.

This was the look on my face when I realized that the Main Cover photo from this blog has been incorrect for the past three years. One day last week I noticed something was wrong with the photo. I zeroed in on the photo with my eyes. The title of my book was missing one word. Where else had I downloaded or uploaded the photo? My books printed correctly so I must have caught the error at some point. What a maroon!!

 

 

 

 

Well, it’s not that funny! Well, actually, I was able to laugh at myself, eventually. In this post I hope to impart to you the absolute necessity of “Proofreading!”. My error ought to provide propelling encouragement to get the writer immersed in proofreading every  aspect of getting your writings out to the public. Don’t confuse them. One title here, another title there (on the same book).

 

 

 

 

This is my book. Correct title. I love my book. I corrected my oversight on this blog and have forgiven myself.

Blunders happen-my encouraging advice for the day.

Thanx so much, for stopping by.

 

Celebrate BHM at a Library-Celebrate Libraries Anytime

Hello again. Here is a poster announcing my next appearance at a local library here in Los Angeles, the Eagle Rock Branch Library to share my father’s inspirational story. When I started this book writing journey my thoughts never went further than getting the writing done and getting a publisher. The idea of being asked to give a presentation at a library never entered my mind. I simply knew that I wanted to put my father’s story down on paper and present it to my grandson. My doctor asked me the other day how I wrote the book-did I have any help? I realized that this is one of the first questions people ask. So this past week I sat down and wrote out what I did to get this book written. Once I took a good look at what entails getting a book written, I was in awe of myself. I am beginning to realize what a big deal this is.

 

 

Here I am last week speaking about writing the biography of my father. I have pictures, we played a cd of a comedy skit with Lena Horne and I was happy to be there. Especially as there were two grammar school girls sitting in the front row. Paying attention. Sitting still. One little girl would take a photo I handed out, show it to her friend, have a little discussion and place the photo on the table. They even contributed to the discussion when I managed to touch on something currently relevant. I loved talking to them and assuring them that they too could achieve their dreams, like Eddie, if they learned as much as they could and believed in themselves.

Of course I told these young girls that I started my research in the Central Library in Los Angeles. That I went to the library a lot when I was little, which I did. And, in fact, the Central Library is exactly where I began my research for my book. My mother actually found the first picture we had of Eddie on stage doing an Amos n Andy radio show back in the 1930s or 40s. This is Central Library.

 

Central Library is beautiful. All of the information I found here about Eddie (and my mom) was housed in the basement level. So I went down this escalator many times. This is where I found the copyright entries for Eddie’s last movie. This is where I found old copies of Black newspapers that had so many articles about Eddie. And my mom. This is where I got carried away with reading those old newspapers. And how I found my aunt mentioned and my Nana. And my godfather. I even began genealogy research here. I made lots of copies here. I usually ate lunch in the building. And of course you can’t just visit one area of this library.

 

 

 

 

Along the way someone told me they had found information on Eddie at the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills and suggested I check it out. This is the library for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It houses the Oscars library. So I went to this library. What an experience. First of all, I would have never thought of going to this library. Even though I knew my father was a filmmaker-I did not realize how big an impact Eddie had in the entertainment field. I must say here that at the time I did not have a car. I used public transportation. L. A. has good public transportation, but, some buses only run once an hour or once every 30 minutes. And visiting these libraries took me from the East to the West side of town. I visited the African American Museum in Exposition Park,  the Mayme Clayton Museum in Inglewood, AND I spent hours at the Family History Library in West L.A. (a 2 hour bus ride one-way), I found so many books here on US history.

The inside of the Margaret Herrick Library is gorgeous. One must leave one’s bags, coats and books in a little locker. When looking at photos or scripts of old papers, one must wear gloves and be very careful when handling delicate items such as old invoices. Oh, and you cannot just walk in, you have to have an appointment. The people that work in here are so nice. You tell them what you are looking for and they get it and bring it to you. I found Eddie’s movie scripts!! Posters of his movies!!! Invoices from Seiden Cinema in New Jersey for the film work they did for Eddie (with signatures). I even found the contract he made with Paramount when he was in the 1945 Duffy’s Tavern movie. Of course,, some of those items I could purchase, some not, but I could write down what I found and pay for copies. I made three trips to this library.

Visiting libraries and museums was a big part of my journey. There were also conventions. I spent many hours online. There was  a lot of reading, emailing, learning how to get with social media. Reading how-to books and articles. Reading other people’s biographies to study writing styles. Studying how to get a publisher. Biting my nails. After my mother passed in 2010 I used my grieving time to focus on the book. I was retired. Footloose and fancy-free. I had time to put into this book. Today, now that it is published I have time to share Eddie’s story in the libraries here in Los Angeles. This photo of Eagle Rock library is where I will be on the 24th of February 2018. I hope to get more kids involved. Because after all, I began this writing venture to try and motivate my grandson who grew up while I was in this process. But I also want to bring Eddie out of the shadows of time and share his many contributions to the entertainment industry and beyond.

Please ask for this book at your local library so that it can be available to more people. Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.

Thanks so much, for stopping by.

 

Funny & Fun

My father liked two things for sure: Pretty women and he liked being happy. From the first time he went out on the road with his first song in 1919, through his movie making days in 1939, ’40 and ’41 his ensemble included chorus girls and comedy. He even incorporated dancing girls, tap dancers, singers and comedic skits in his last 1949 movie that depicted Blacks and how they dealt with life after the Atom Bomb. For those new to this blog you can see his last movie on YouTube-it’s titled Mr. Adam’s Bomb. A young lady (Margaret Westfield)  sings a song called “You can Always Believe Your Heart” which Eddie wrote. I am still looking for information on Ms. Westfield.

Eddie became a household name as Eddie, the waiter in the radio program Duffy’s Tavern, during the last ten years of his life. Everyone loved Eddie. February is Black History Month. I am going to inundate social media with “fun Eddie stuff”. I want to get him as much exposure as possible. I want to get as many people as I can to experience Eddie’s good nature and for them to get a few laughs as well. I think our world could use uplifting right now. Eddie’s life story is truly inspiring. I will also be pushing the biography I have written about him, “Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer“, it’s much more fun that that “other” book everyone is talking about these days.

In this still from Eddie’s 4th movie you can see that Eddie (in the striped shirt) liked being silly (which is why, I am sure I like silly jokes: What kind of flower is that on your face? Tulips!!! Hahahahaha!) There were even chorus girls in this movie.

So here’s to a Funny February.

And thanx, for stopping by.

 

Norma and Eddie Green Name Their New Daughter

NORMA and EDDIE  choose the name “ELVA” for their new daughter. Elva Green. This was of course a few years ago. Well, more than a few. I got the idea for this post because Kanye and Kim are trending on twitter because of their newest child’s name. I like to show my blog’s younger readers that famous couples have been trending in the news for years. Readers of today’s news have come up with all sorts of reasons K and K chose the name that they did for their child. And this reminded me that most of my life I have wondered how my father chose my name. Despite the fact that my name contains only 4 letters, people have mispronounced it always. Evelyn, Eva, Elvis, Alva, Elba. When I was a kid, the other kids called me Greenie stickum caps (I think some of you older folks might remember those).

When my father was still alive, mom would put me in our Buick and drive me to see the street sign that read Elva Ave. It was located in Compton, California. I remembered looking at the sign out of the passenger window. So I thought I was named after that street for a long while. As an adult I wondered why that name was chosen for a street in Compton. In my lifetime I have met less than ten women named Elva. And none of them were Black. There were a lot of Black people in Compton when I was a child. I researched a bit and discovered Elva has roots in Scandinavia-I think it means “running brook”. Compton was named after a settler who travelled from Pittsylvania, Va., where Scot and Irish had settled.

Vallone D’Elva

Then I learned there was a village in Italy called Elva. I don’t know that Eddie had ever gone to Italy, but my mom’s father was Italian, so maybe Eddie got the name from my maternal grandfather, Joe. I never heard my mother mention that Eddie had ever met her Italian father because there were family “issues” and Joe was not “around”. Anyhow, they are all gone now. But maybe I’m named after a village in Italy.

 

 

 

Or maybe my name is from the French “elle va” meaning “She Goes”. If I ever get the money I fully intend to go to the South of France. Eddie actually took my mom to Paris. Or maybe Eddie thought of me as an Elf. In the Irish language Elva means Elfin. Eddie did appear on stage once in a one-man play called “Tam O’Shanter” by Scottish poet Robert Burns. And once I did win a St. Patrick’s Day writing contest.

Well, here is the announcement in the newspaper about me and my name and my proud daddy. And my mom, the former Norma Amato. The name my father gave me has taken me around the world. I am proud of my name as I am sure Kim and Kanye’s daughter will be of her name.

 

 

Hey, thanks, for stopping by. KCB

Check out my book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. Found on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, Book Soup and Walmart.

 

 

 

Misery Does Not Love Company

For the last couple of weeks I have been running on empty. It’s not new for me. Periodically, I slow way down. Family issues, world events, self-doubt and other issues overwhelm me. But, my misery does not love company, besides, everybody has problems. The day after Christmas I went out and seemed like everybody was pissed off. And today because of the snow back east a newscaster was talking about a “misery map”.  Anywho, this is my reason for not posting lately.  So, while looking for a photo on Google Advanced Images for this blog I typed in “Misery Loves Company: and got “the freeze”. Because I have such a weird sense of humor this picture cracked me up. This guy looks miserable. The fact that I laughed when I saw this picture lets me know I am still my old self-silly. And I am not as miserable as he looks. In fact, January has started off well for me (I had the best day with my daughter and her honey) and I do hope this year brings all of you happiness.

I have multiple library presentations coming up. I have met two lovely people, one who is going to help me genealogy-wise, and the other I will be helping with their social media needs. At the end of the month I will have a YouTube video up and running promoting my book. I discovered that a television station in Staunton, Va. aired my father’s last movie Mr. Adam’s Bomb as recent as 1983 and I have sent off an email trying to find out if they have knowledge of a physical copy of the movie. Meanwhile…..

I want to touch on a subject that is important to me. Today is the birthday of Zora Neale Hurston. She was born the same year that my father, Eddie Green, was born. She was born in Alabama, and moved to Eatonville, Florida, with her family in 1894. Eatonville would become the setting for many of her stories and is now the site of the Zora! Festival, held each year in her honor. Incorporated on August 15, 1887, Eatonville was one of the first self-governing all-black municipalities in the United States. I saw this quote from her online today and it touched something in me. She wrote these words in her 1950 essay, What White Publishers Won’t Print. “For various reasons, the average, struggling, non-morbid Negro is the best-kept secret in America.”

There is more, of course, but these words spoke to me. They said what I feel, that I am simply an average, struggling, female human being who happens to be Black and who just wants to live the best life I can. I go to work. I’ve raised a child. I pay bills.  I’m not pissed off because I am Black. I just am who I am. I decide what I want or need to do and I do it. Eddie was like that. When he was asked about Blacks being able to get into radio back in the 30s he said: “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.” Commenting further he also said: He found one thing to be true, “Talent is appreciated . . . you get respect if you know your business.” Eddie also said: “If you’ve got the talent, you can’t miss in the long run, even if it’s mighty long!”

It’s about living life.  Find something you like to do, and do that the best you know how. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And smile, brother, smile. Because “Misery” does not love company.

Thanks, for stopping by. KCB

Check out my Facebook Book Page: https://www.facebook.com/elvagreenbookpage/

Thanks Wikipedia.

 

 

Eddie Green, “Moms” Mabley, “Dark” Gable, Yuletide at the Apollo

Christmas Show-Eddie Green, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, “Pigmeat”, James Baskette and Ralph Cooper, emcee

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and as my mom used to say, a happy 4th of July to you all from my blog celebrating my father, Eddie Green, Comedian, composer, filmmaker, entrepreneur and a good man.

I have posted this article from a 1930s newspaper simply because I waited till the last minute and I just happened to have the article because a Facebook friend found it and sent it to me. So cool! The one thing I like about these articles is that when I research the other people that are mentioned I acquire new knowledge. I’ve learned that sometimes one has to look extra hard in order to find information on these old time entertainers. As you can see my father, Eddie Green performed in this show along with other great Black entertainers of the day. I’ve added pics of Jackie “Moms” Mabley and Ralph Cooper further down.

Articles like this one here are only to be found in the Black newspapers of the day-once I found out what those were all I needed was the time and patience to go through the archives. This article happens to mention the same program as the first article. The first article mentions a Clarence Robinson and his “Christmas Carols” show. I wanted to get some information about these folks before I typed this post. Well, typing in Clarence’s name into the internet to get some background on him got me nada. So I typed in “Apollo”.

Hurtig&Seamons  was purchased in 1933 by Sidney Cohen,  and after lavish renovations it re-opened as the “Apollo Theater” on January 16, 1934, catering to the black community of Harlem, previously it had been a whites-only venue. The internet info on the Apollo stated that on February 14, 1934, the first major star to appear at the Apollo was jazz singer and Broadway star Adelaide Hall in Clarence Robinson’s production Chocolate Soldiers, which featured Sam Wooding’s Orchestra. The show ran for a limited engagement and was highly praised by the press, which helped establish the Apollo’s reputation. Well, there you go.

You’ll notice that Eddie was on this same bill with Jackie “Moms” Mabley. I discovered Moms Mabley when I was about sixteen. She cracked me up. Turns out that at the height of her career, she was earning US$10,000 a week at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. One of her regular themes was a romantic interest in handsome young men rather than old “washed-up geezers”, and she got away with it courtesy of her stage persona, where she appeared as a toothless, bedraggled woman in a house dress and floppy hat. I heard her talk about “George” and that white suit “I bought you”. She was too funny. And my father had once been on the stage with her. Remarkable.

 

And this is Ralph Cooper, the originator and master of ceremonies of Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Ralph, also known as “The Dark Gable” (so handsome) was an American actor, screenwriter, dancer and choreographer. Starred in “The Duke is Tops with Lena Horne” in 1938. Ralph was also a producer and a director and starred in at least ten movies. He was working in this capacity just ahead of Eddie who started his movie making career in 1939. Mr. Cooper was with us until 1992. I would have loved to have met him.

According to Wikipedia (which I love), although the theatre concentrated on showcasing African American acts, it also presented White acts such as swing bandleaders Harry James, Woody Herman and Charlie Barnett during the swing era, and, later, jazz greats Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz and Buddy Rich. Also, Jimi Hendrix won the first place prize in an amateur musician contest at the Apollo in 1964. And even these greats performed at the Apollo:  James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, and so many more.

Just one big happy family. Happy, happy Holidays everyone!!

And thanks, for stopping by.

Last minute gift: https://bearmanormedia.selz.com/item/eddie-green-ebook

 

Christmas 1939 Must Have Been Merry

On September 10, 1942 Eddie Green, my father, opened a dramatic training school in this building at 2352 Seventh Avenue, New York City. The school, called Sepia Artists offered services and classes for both amateurs and professionals. The Pittsburgh-Courier newspaper referred to Eddie in it’s article about the school as a comedian of radio and stage fame. I think it was a short-lived endeavor because in 1943 Eddie filed for bankruptcy. Before this from 1939 through 1941 Eddie was making movies and planning plans, so he had some money.

 

Chauncey Northern

In fact, there must have been enough money to hire this gentleman, Chauncey Northern. According to an article just before Christmas of 1939, Mr. Northern a recognized voice specialist and coach joined Eddie’s motion picture company as head of it’s music department. In this capacity he would have charge of  the arranging of voices for Eddie’s Sepia-Art Pictures choir which would be a permanent feature of the organization, New York Age, December 23, 1939. The article goes on to say that Mr. Northern’s studio was located in Carnegie Hall and that his studio was the mecca of many of the great artists of today.

In researching Chauncey Northern I learned that he was one of the first black opera singers (a tenor) to appear on the Italian stage, making his debut in the 1920’s at the Teatro Politeana in Naples and that he studied at the Juliard School of Music. I did not spend much time trying to find info on Mr. Northern while I was writing the book about my father, but today while trying to come up with a blog post I decided to dig a little further.

it’s amazing what can be found if you are really paying attention. I learned that in 1924 he wrote the music for the University of Hampton’s Alma Mater, one of the top historically black universities in the world.

An interesting fact is that this tree, The Emancipation Oak, stands near the entrance of the Hampton University campus and is a lasting symbol of the university’s rich heritage and perseverance. The peaceful shade of the young oak served as the first classroom for newly freed men and women, eager for an education. Mrs. Mary Peake, daughter of a freed colored woman and a Frenchman, conducted the first lessons taught under the oak located on the University’s campus. Classes continued with the The Butler School, which was constructed in 1863 next to the oak. One day in 1863, the members of the Virginia Peninsula’s black community gathered to hear a prayer answered. The Emancipation Oak was the site of the first Southern reading of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, an act which accelerated the demand for African-American education. And Chauncey Northern was a part of this history. And Eddie was a part of his history. And I am a part of their history. Awesome.

After Mr, Northern’s debut in Naples, he remained in Europe until 1937, when he returned to the United States and established the Northern Vocal Arts School at Carnegie Hall, where he taught until his death in 1992. The main hall of Carnegie Hall was home to the performances of the New York Philharmonic from 1892 until 1962. The building also contains the Carnegie Hall Archives, established in 1986, and the Rose Museum, which opened in 1991. Until 2009 studios above the Hall contained working spaces for artists in the performing and graphic arts including music, drama, dance, as well as architects, playwrights, literary agents, photographers and painters. The spaces were unusual in being purpose-designed for artistic work, with very high ceilings, skylights and large windows for natural light.  In 1906 both Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington spoke here. Chauncey Northern had his studio here!

Today a person has to dig to find out information on Mr. Northern, just like I had to dig to get my information on Eddie, even though he was a major player in entertainment. Most of the information of pioneering Black people can only be found in Black newspaper archives. However, I did find a Facebook page for a woman who knew Mr. Northern and who is still active today. Hopefully she will “friend” me. If not, she has a web site. History is fascinating. I love research. I can go back in time to 1939 and I can travel the world, visit universities and meet new people right here with my laptop.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Info on Chauncey Northern and Carnegie Hall courtesy of the World Wide Web

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