My Father and the New York Police Department 1929

Due to a recent podcast I realized I needed to gain a greater degree of knowledge in regard to how my father, Eddie Green, got into the field of radio. In his words: “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 was a living example of how one gets ahead in life. He stayed busy, he knew his talents and dedicated himself to making them pay off. His biggest break was in 1929.

I found an article from about 1928, by Chappy Gardner,  “Along the Rialto”, in the Pittsburgh Courier: “ Eddie Green, well-known songwriter, electrician, motion picture operator, famed comedian, opened on the Burlesque wheel this season. Played at Newark last week in A Perfect 36. Eddie appeared with the regular cast, being the only race performer, but was at his best in his single that wowed the customers”.

It took him a minute to realize his popularity. In his own words “In the meantime, I was so busy working here and there and doing a bit of writing on the side that I did not notice my own advancement. One indication of the change, I should have noticed, was the fact that I could see my name very frequently in the various trade papers”. Then along came George Immerman and opened a show called Hot Chocolates. I became the featured comic in this show. It turned out that none of the various scenes written for the show were good enough, so I was engaged to write the scenes”.

Hot Chocolates was a musical revue that  opened at the Hudson Theater in New York on June 20, 1929. The show was staged and directed by Leonard Harper, with songs by  and Thomas “Fats” Waller and Harry Brooks and book by Andy Razaf. The revue was touted as being fast, funny and frank. Hot Chocolates had a run of 219 performances.

Eddie double as a performer in the show along with these two gentlemen

  • Louis Armstrong  Ensemble (Armstrong made his Broadway debut with his role in the ensemble as part of the pit band for the show)
  • Jimmie Baskette Ensemble (Baskette later became well-known as the zip-a-dee-doo-da man, Uncle Remus, in Walt Disney’s movie “Song of the South” (1946)

A big hit from Hot Chocolates was “Big Business” written by Eddie. It was  a “talking song,” with Eddie, Billy Higgins and Company, and “Fats” Waller on piano.

Then there was the record that was produced from one of Eddie’s skits titled “Sending A Wire” on the Okeh record label:

And the  Warner Bros Vitaphone film “Sending A Wire” (directed by Murray Roth)  (courtesy IMDB) that featured synchronized sound. It was said to be the funniest Vitaphone comedy act “which has yet been produced,”, and that it “kept thousands shaking with laughter.”

At about the same time in another part of town,  Gannett Newspapers 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 Commander Richard E. Byrd, an America Naval Officer, and his explorers, who had set up the “Little America” base camp on the Ross Ice Shelf.  Radio remained a primitive and exciting medium in 1929, and when the stations contacted Little America directly and spoke with Byrd or Hanson, it caused a worldwide sensation. They chose Eddie to be added to the broadcast to perform his “Sending a Wire” skit.

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”. The “whole town” (New York) was talking about my father!! He was Big Time! Of course the radio people wanted him. He was Hot!! The “stellar” cast in this radio show also included: Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rudy Vallee one of the first modern pop stars and Ted Healy, the creator of the Three Stooges.

Eddie had to perform in both of these venues on the same night. Problem was he had to be on stage at the Hudson at almost the same time the radio broadcast would begin. This was a predicament. In his words this is what happened: “The Police Department solved the problem by giving me a motorcycle escort from the theater to the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) studio”. He said that they went up Broadway on the wrong side of the street with the police sirens screaming. Can’t you just picture it? The police escorting Eddie through traffic trying not to hit the theater crowd, zigging and zagging!! Just to get him on that radio program so Commander Byrd could laugh his head off and forget about the cold in Antarctica!! I salute the New York Police Department!

Broadway about 1926-1929

Eddie was Hot!! They had to have him! If he were alive today he’d be on Ellen, Oprah, Steve, National Public Radio (NPR), Twitter, Internet. Because he was one of the best comedians of his time. THAT is how Eddie got into radio.

Hey, thanks for stopping by.

 

 

I HAVE A PUBLISHER!

signontheottedline

When questioned about his recipe for success, my father Eddie Green said the best recipe that he has for success, is to find what you like to do and do it the best you know how.

I decided to write a biography of my father. Once I got into the process of researching this gentleman who died when I was three years old, I found that I liked doing the research. I have the patience needed for this type of project, of course, I have an interest in the subject, and as time went on the information I discovered gave me the impetus to keep searching. I was amazed at how much my father had accomplished in his lifetime that I never knew about. I began to like what I was doing. The book writing idea began back in about 1998, but the serious work began in 2010. I like it and I have done it the best I know how. This week I am signing a contract with a publisher. The very publisher I had planned to contact when I was ready (meaning when I got over being afraid of certain rejection).

I have a PUBLISHER. The cover photo is on my previous post and the title is: Eddie Green – The Rise of an Early 1900s African-American Pioneer.

And just in case here is another picture of Eddie:(Hopefully, WordPress places it here)

duffy'stavernPerino

Eddie is the little short dude standing next to Mr. Ed Gardner, his boss in the Duffy’s Tavern 1945 movie. I have to point out here, that Eddie and Ed became good friends and I have had the pleasure of being in contact with Ed Gardner’s son.

This week I am addressing the proofreading “those wonderful people out there” did for me, and beginning my photo scanning.

I am now in a new phase of my book writing project and I will continue to post about it here because, after all, this is why I bought this, my very first laptop. I wanted this blog to be an inspiration to others. I believe it has been judging by my friendly followers. So, stay tuned for more good news!

And Thanks! For stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT JUST KEEPS ON GETTING BETTER

 You’ve Screamed at Him on Duffy’s Tavern In Person – EDDIE GREEN!

duffyscastonstage

This headline was from an article in 1945.  Eddie was scheduled to appear at the Orpheum Theater, in Los Angeles, on May 1st, along with The King Cole Trio, and, Johnny Otis and his Orchestra.

In case you are new to my blog, Eddie, my father, is the Black gentleman with the big smile on his face, in the above photo.  Kinda like my smile.  The gentleman in the hat, is Mr. Ed Gardner, creator of Duffy’s Tavern, the gentleman next to him is Charles Cantor and the lady is Florence Halop.

In the seven years prior to 1945, Eddie had owned two barbeque restaurants in New York (specializing in southern bar-bee-Q), he had made four of his own movies, and, he was on The Executive Board of the Negro Actors Guild of America, Noble Sissle, President, along with Mrs. Noble Sissle, and W. C. Handy.

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Ben Bernie, 1938 Google Advanced Image Search

Eddie had also appeared on  the Ben Bernie Music Quiz radio program.  Ben Bernie was a jazz violinist, and a bandleader as well as a radio personality, who was born in 1891 (like Eddie.)  He originated the term “yowsa, yowsah, yowsah,” that became a national catchphrase, and which was used in the movie, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

York_they_shoot

I thought They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, was very “deep” when I saw it, a movie about  a depression era dance marathon, with contestants desperate to win. I mean, these people stayed on their poor feet a long time.   Now, I am writing a book, years later,  about my father appearing on a radio program starring a man associated with this movie.  It just blows me away.  Small world.

Eddie had appeared on many radio programs, including a radio special titled, “All God’s Children,” with Paul Robeson. Eddie was even a guest on The Jell-O Program, starring Jack Benny.  In the following episode titled “Columbus Day,” (cause it was), Jack is talking on the phone to Rochester who needs $50 dollars to pay off some debts and he sends his friend, Columbus Smith (played by Eddie), to pick up the money from Jack.

jackbenny
Jack Benny Google Advanced Image Search
Knock, knock, knock.
BENNY:  Come in.
COLUMBUS:  Excuse me for intruding, Mr. Benny, but I got a note for you.
BENNY:  I’m sorry, I’m busy right now, come back later.
COLUMBUS:  I would advise you to take a quick gander at this communique.
BENNY: All right, what’s the note, what does it say?
COLUMBUS:  I’m only a carrier pigeon, we ain’t much on reading.
BENNY:  Oh, ok, let’s have it.
MARY LIVINGSTONE:  Who’s it from, Jack
BENNY:  It’s from, Rochester.  Listen to this, dear boss, please give bearer, Mr. Columbus Smith – Columbus?
COLUMBUS:  Yea, that’s me.
BENNY:  Oh.
MARY (to Columbus):  Happy Anniversary.
Loud laughter from the audience.

Eddie would find his greatest fame, however, through the popular radio show, Duffy’s Tavern. 

The show aired March 1, 1941. Once a week, Duffy’s Tavern entertained America’s citizen with the antics of Archie, the bartender, played by Ed Gardner, the creator of the show,  Eddie, the waiter played by my father Eddie Green, and the tavern regulars, Finnegan, played by Charles Cantor, and Miss Duffy, (the tavern owner’s daughter), played by Shirley Booth. Duffy of Duffy’s Tavern was never seen or heard, but the show would start off with Archie having a telephone conversation with his “boss”, Duffy.  The phone would ring, and Archie would answer:  “Hello, Duffy’s Tavern, where the elite meet to eat, Duffy ain’t here, Archie speaking, oh, hello, Duffy.”  Usually, the show featured a different celebrity guest each week.
Archie, the bartender, tended to misuse the English language and Eddie would usually call subtle attention to this fact:
Chapeau
Chapeau
EDDIE:  Mr. Archie, what happened to the sign?
ARCHIE:  What sign, Eddie.
EDDIE:  The “watch your hats and coats” sign.
ARCHIE:  There it is, only I rephrased the words so Clifton Fadiman would feel more at home here.  Read it.
EDDIE:  Maintain scrutiny of thy chapeaus and hats, umm, nice and confusing, ain’t it?
ARCHIE:  Yes, isn’t it?  It’s a quotation from Shakespeare.  Did you ever see any of Shakespeare’s
plays, Eddie?
EDDIE:  One, As You Like It.
ARCHIE:  Well?
EDDIE:  I didn’t like it.
Eddie would appear in every episode until his death in 1950, as well as appearing in the same role in the 1945 movie.
After Eddie got the role in Duffy’s Tavern, he was able to fulfill another dream of his, The Pittsburgh Courier reported “Eddie Green, comedian of radio and stage fame has opened a dramatic training school with services and classes for both amateurs and professionals.  The School is called Sepia Artists.”
Thank you for coming today.  I hope these stories of my father and his ambitions inspire you to go after your dreams, no matter how unattainable they may seem.

SINGING, DANCING, DRAMA, BLACK HISTORY

Eddie as KoKo
Eddie as KoKo

Hello there, this is so funny to me.  I was trying to crop a picture and this is what I got.  A hand-drawn cropping, almost looks like somebody’s profile.  Anyhow, my mom used to say, “You learn something new everyday.”  Here is something I learned while looking for information on my father, Eddie, from when he played “Koko” in the Hot Mikado in 1939.  I found this article from 1962, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Tonight at 8:00, the esteemed Sir Arthur Sullivan would have rarely looked more dour . . . and Sir William Gilbert might have returned to his law practice were they alive to hear the liberties taken In the late 30s version of Mikado.  Tonight we take a second listen as “Ko-Ko”, “Nam-Poo”, “Yum-Yum”, “Katisha” and friends go modern in Hot Mikado with Bill Robinson and Eddie Green.”

A good little blurb to add to my book.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson turned sixty-one while starring in the Mike Todd version of Hot Mikado as the Mikado.  A local newspaper ran this ad:

“A second negro production of “The Mikado” in modern swing tempo, entitled The Hot Mikado opens tonight at the Broadhurst with Bill Robinson, the tap dancer, in the lead role.”

Michael Todd, producer of the play sponsored an after-theater party on stage at the Broadhurst Theater, where the cast of the play, members of the Cotton Club and a bunch of friends drank a toast to Bill’s health and wished him many happy returns.

Bill Robinson-Wikipedia
Bill Robinson-Wikipedia

According to the New York Age, “following the toastmaking, Eddie Green, “Koko” of Hot Mikado on behalf of the cast presented Mr. Robinson with a silver plaque on which was inscribed:  “Happy Birthday ‘Bill’ Robinson from the cast of the Hot Mikado Co. Broadhurst Theatre, May 28, 1939.” A silver stage crew, the onlv one of its kind in America, was another gift from the cast to its leading star.”

And here is an article from the Brooklyn Eagle, specifically about Eddie:

“Eddie Green, who has been funny all the time but has not quite seemed to get his teeth into anything, is singing “Titwillow” to Katisha and his “Titwillow” turns out to be completely delightful.  The song has, no doubt, been sung many times by better voices, but it could hardly be done more amusingly.  With it Mr. Green makes himself one of the jewels of the Hot Mikado.

In 1940, Eddie went on to appear on the Tommie Riggs radio program:

TONIGHT’S BEST RADIO BETS 7:50— “Blondie,” …Tommy Rlggs and Betty Lou. David Ross, Freddie Rich Orchestra. Eddie Green WEAF. 8:30— ..Brooklyn NY Eagle1940.

Eddie also found time to appear with Miss Hazel Scott on the dramatic mystery program The Bishop and The GargoyleimagesEHU5HJ1M

The show was about a former Bishop and an excon who teamed up to solve crimes.  It’s very gritty, I listened to about five minutes of one of the shows and here is a sample of the kinds of lines in the script: “Aw listen, man, don’t try to make a chest outta that stomach.”  So funny.

On the show, Eddie and Hazel did a skit titled “The Item of the Voodoo Doll”.  Miss Scott was a jazz and concert pianist, normally, who, according to the papers, put her own interpretation into Bach and Beethoven.  The reviews of her acting ability were good, and of course, Eddie was funny.

200px-Hazel_Scott_in_Rhapsody_in_Blue_trailer

Hazel Dorothy Scott, born in 1920 became a star in her own right and while she was at it, she married Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who became the first person from New York of African-American descent to be elected to Congress, representing Harlem, New York, from 1945 to 1971. 200px-Adam_Clayon_Powell_Jr

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was also pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and as such Rev. Powell christened me.  How’s that for a good ending?

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

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