Eddie Green-A Well Thought-of Man

When I began writing the biography on my father, Eddie Green, I wanted to use a quote from Langston Hughes in the foreword but had to forget that idea as I could not get permission. I can, however, use a portion of an article Mr. Hughes wrote which mentioned my father. James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.

 

 

In the Hughes article (not the one pictured here) he was writing about “sympathetic outlets to new Negro playwrights”. He wanted to stimulate growth of a real Negro theater. He believed that while White playwrights could be skilled or sincere they could not catch “the little graduation that give a negro life its drama.” He links the comedy stage thus: “Perhaps comedy is the pitfall of the theater. Exaggeration of racial types the overstressing of eccentricities of regional speech frequently dominate comedy especially in music halls”. He goes on to say, “Nevertheless just as out of serious plays has come a Robeson, so from the minstral vaudeville musical stage have come some very talented Negro comedians, Bert Williams, Pigmeat, Jackie Mabley, Eddie Green.” (New York Age May, 1953). Notice in the article to the left Eddie, Jackie, and Pigmeat are all listed as appearing with the sixteen Apollo Rockettes back in the early 1900s.

Here is a compilation of some of the scenes from Eddie’s movies in 1939. In a 1940 Baltimore article written by Lillian Johnson she headed the article with: As a Comedian, He’s Very Funny; As a Business Man, He’s Very Sensible and Comedy is a Business. Lillian said “The fact that Eddie is so funny on the screen, stage, and radio is due to the highly intelligent and efficient manner in which he conducts his work.”

Now that the book has been written and published I am learning who my audience is (?). Old time movie buffs, old time radio lovers, musicians, people from Baltimore (Eddie was born there, they love their history), history buffs, young people who love nostalgia, people who loved Eddie and who are so happy I wrote the book, people in the UK, people who love the blues (Eddie was a composer), people who like inspirational stories. But I am having difficulty attracting younger people, especially Blacks. Langston Hughes had this problem at one time. According to Wikipedia: “Hughes’ popularity among the younger generation of black writers varied even as his reputation increased worldwide. With the gradual advancement toward racial integration, many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date.” And a lot of younger Blacks today (as young as 50 like my brother) consider Eddie’s era waaay out of date. Never mind the fact that he was successful, highly thought of, and funny.

So, these days I am searching for a way to get people to take notice of Eddie’s work ethic, his love of people and his pride as a Black man in order to promote the idea that those successful Blacks who came before us, even though they seem outmoded, added to and continue, through us, to add positive vibes to the Universe that elicit messages like this: LOVE YOUR FATHER’S WORK. HE REALLY MOVED ME WHEN I WAS ROCK BOTTOM God Bless.

Love it.

Thanx, for stopping by. Spread the love

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Facing Reality

How does one progress through trial and tribulation?

Since the writing of the biography of my father I have been honored by people wanting to interview me. I have found that people are very interested in discovering how “racism” affected Eddie’s progress in his career. My initial reasoning for writing the book was to provide inspiration to those people who think they “can’t” become successful. So I am having to adapt.

However, I believe that Eddie did not waste his energy focusing on racism. Eddie focused on finding what he liked to do and doing it the best he knew how so that he would not have to continue to live the life of poverty into which he was born. It took him a little while to get started but once he did he was on his way.

One hundred years ago my father, Eddie Green, at age 26, was drafted for  World War I.

Because he was a Black man (or African as it says on his registration card) he was asked to tear off the bottom portion of the card. Along with the world, he was introduced to a world at war. And this is when he wrote his first song.

Eddie wrote his first song in 1917. “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Perhaps President Hoover’s volunteer predicament prompted Eddie to do some writing that would become his first and biggest hit song. When America went to war interest  was not high, men were not volunteering. Good men were hard to find. President Hoover decided to inaugurate the draft. The song had nothing to do with war, but the title was relevant, and the song was written as a blues song, the type of music that was becoming popular.

Life in America in 1917 for Black also included lynchings, and jim crow laws. There were deadly riots in 1917. But Eddie and other Blacks like him persevered. Through  the hardship and prejudice of the Jim Crow era, several black entertainers and literary figures gained broad popularity, such as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, with whom Eddie worked, and Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, with whom Eddie also worked. They struggled, but they did it. They got work where and how they could. They practiced. They improved their craft.

By 1927 Eddie was appearing at Ciro’s in The Creole Follies(1927) August in Michigan per the Daily Globe, ‘Creole Follies Co.’ At the Ironwood”, as a dancer and singer. He had also begun performing as a comedian. He was funny. He was really funny.

In 1936 you could hear this voice saying: with Milton J. Cross making the following announcement: “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I am very delighted to be allowed to participate in this demonstration on television. For your dedication, we draw on that droll comic, Eddie Green and his partner, George Wiltshire, offering a little philosophical erudition.

By 1937 Eddie was on the radio co-hosting a show with Louis Armstrong: Mr. Bob Hayes of The Chicago Defender, in his column “Here and There,” began his May 22, 1937 column, thus:, “It was like turning back the pages of yesteryear when we were greeted by our life-long pal, Eddie Green, NBC artist now being featured with Louis Armstrong and his Hot Harlem Review.” His craft was propelling him into bigger things.

Standard Brands Inc. (Fleischmann Yeast) through J . Walter Thompson Co. announced the full talent line-up of its all-negro show which will make its debut over 30 NBC-Blue network stations, April 9 at 9-9: 30 p.m. Eddie Green and Gee Gee James, a comedy team, with Louis Armstrong and his orchestra will be the regular talent. Program will also feature negro guest stars. Octavus Roy Cohen, well known writer of negro fiction, will do the script. Radio Daily April 1937.

Also in 1937 Eddie left Harlem with his (3rd) wife, in August of 1937, to join the Show Boat cast in Hollywood, according to the California Eagle newspaper. Hollywood!

In 1947 the California Eagle did a piece on Eddie in their “Trail Blazers” column. The article spoke of Eddie’s twenty-three years in show business, fifteen years of before-the-mike experience, and thirty years of technical radio knowledge. It mentioned his beginnings with “Fats” Waller in the 1920s and his progress to Duffy’s Tavern. It also spoke a little about his days as a “Boy Magician,”, and of how Eddie began to be booked on all types of radio shows. This article also mentioned the fact that Eddie was a 32ndnd degree Mason and that he had spent the last year working actively with the NAACP.

Born in Baltimore in 1891 to extreme poverty he propelled himself, through talent, determination and willingness into a successful career as an entertainer because he wanted a better life for himself. And along the way he was able to provide laughs with his comedy, entertainment with his dancing and acting, and employment through his production companies and movies. When his career ended at the time of his death in 1950 he was a beloved comedian on one of the most popular radio programs of that era. He had no enemies. He was known as a funny man, a good businessman and a regular guy by everyone he met.

Racism may be a reality, but it can be overcome.

Thanks, for stopping by.

Please check out my book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

http://www.bearmanormedia.com

Eddie Green and Baltimore, 2 Greats

importfromphonejuly 135    importfromphonejuly 138

The two pictures posted here today have brought me much joy recently. The head and shoulders shot is my father Eddie Green with his Amateur Short-wave Radio Operator pin on his lapel, circa 1940, and the other is a still from a Warner Bros. 1929 Vitaphone film titled “Sending a Wire”. That’s Eddie as a customer trying to send a telegram. The headshot is located at the New York Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in the Eddie Green Photo Collection. I got the still from The Vitaphone Project where the employees are endeavoring to preserve old Warner Bros. films.

Eddie was born in Baltimore in 1891. So a few days ago I posted these photos on a Baltimore Old Photos website group. I have been blown away by the response I have received from Baltimore residents. As I type this I have received over 600 replies (likes, comments, reactions) and they are still coming in. Of course I have responded to each comment so I’ve been reluctant to leave my computer because I want to answer immediately. So far placing these photos in the Baltimore site had nothing to do with the biography I have written on my father. The people who are reacting to these pictures are simply people who love their city. They love their city history. Judging by the faces on their posts (I guess they are avatars) these are young people, middle age, older folks, and different ethnicities. To me this is a proud community.

I absolutely do not like to fly but it looks like I am going to have to visit my father’s birthplace. I would love to experience the atmosphere. There has got to be a lot of love in that city. I posted a blurb from my book that said Eddie Green was “a feather in the hat of East Baltimore” according to the local newspaper from 1925. Wait until they get the word that I have written a book about him. From the comments I have received Baltimoreans will be happy to learn more about one of theirs.

I am trying not to get too excited here because life is about ups and downs, but I am having so much fun. Since I started this blog however the process has been up all the way.  I’ve written my book, had it published, and gained followers and friends.  Because of my desire to see my father’s story brought back to the fore of people’s minds in order that they might see an example of reaching one’s goals no matter how many obstacles there are, and because Life has shown me that this is what is supposed to happen, I feel this path I am on is only going to bring me and others more happiness. How it will bring happiness to others is that people who visit my site can be encouraged to pursue their dreams and they will feel fulfilled in doing so.

I love this!

Thanx, for stopping by. And please KCB.

 

 

 

 

NOSTALGIA PIECE

eddiegreenandgrandmanorma

I am feeling nostalgic today. With my first book signing for the biography I wrote about my father, Eddie Green, coming up on November, I have, of course, been thinking about Eddie and my mom, Norma. Through a second marriage Norma is also the mom of my three brothers and one sister, Nathaniel Lance (who has passed on), Brad, Brian and Donna. Through them (and me) she was also grandma Norma and great-grandma Norma. Mom passed away this month in  2010. Her birthday month is November. My brother Brad’s birthday is in October. So, I think I just figured out why I am nostalgic. Plus, November is BIG for me in another anonymous way but I’ll save that for another post.

Back to mom. I showed my youngest brother Brian this picture of Eddie and mom and he did not recognize the lady in that fur. Our family does not have a lot of pictures from 1946, and mom didn’t talk to much about those years. As you can see, those years were pretty good for Eddie and Norma.

While doing my research for the book I found an article in the Los Angeles California Eagle newspaper by J. T. Gipson in her “Notes from a Newsgirl” column, that “Eddie (Duffy’s Tavern) Green and wife, nee Norma Amato, are vacationing in the East. Norma plans to relieve New York of some of their latest creations”.

Such as this ensemble or these hats from 1946: womensfashion1940hats

In those days mom was always in the news. Before she married Eddie she had aspired to become an opera star. Here is what was printed in  another article in a 1944 Los Angeles California Eagle newspaper: “Keep your ears on Norma Amato’s delightful thrushing…she has the kind of voice you hear only in a dream”.

dreamscometrue

Together, she and Eddie liked to entertain at home. Jessie Mae Brown of the Los Angeles California Eagle reported in her column “What’s Doing in the Social Set” that “Television with all its newness will be the incentive for an exclusive soiree at the Eddie Green’s Second avenue home. After waiting several years in suspense for television, I look forward to this party with keen interest as well as pleasure.”

I found a picture of a 1946 television set. I don’t know if this was the same one or even the same day, but mom told me that Eddie cut a hole in the wall between the kitchen and the dining room and set the tv in the hole, leaving the ugly back of the set sticking out into the kitchen.tv1946

Eddie did not start out in life this way. He was born in an alley house in Baltimore (no sewage system and disease) to struggling parents. He ran away from home when he was nine and by the time he was seventeen he was working but still lived in an alley house on Ten Pin Alley (an actual alley listed on a map).

svf_b_streets_biddle_alley

Eddie worked his way up. He taught himself to read. He discovered what he liked to do and he determined to do it the best he knew how. My father was thirty years older than mom. By the time she met Eddie it was all about traveling, nightclubs, parties, dinners, she did not talk much about what she knew of Eddie’s early life. He took her to Baltimore to show her his old living situation. She met his daughter from a previous marriage. But it was necessary for me to do extensive research in order to write the biography Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. And thank goodness I did because my father’s story radiated inspiration for me. I’ve heard that others have felt the same after reading the book.

My next post will be from my new, updated blog which will feature news of the book, purchasing and what not, and it will also feature reviews I have received (all wonderful so far!). Thank you so much for being a part of my journey here on this blog.

And thank you, for stopping by.

 

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Hello there. If you are new to my blog Welcome and if you are a follower Welcome Back. I wrote early on in 2014 that I had been procrastinating in writing this book and that I needed to either start writing or get off the pot.  My sister-in-law, Christal, sent me a message: Write the book!! Well, once I got started it was full steam ahead, and now today I am working on setting up the cover page for the book. So, I have actually made a decision on which photo of my father to use for the cover of my book. Eddie’s photo in white tux will be the main photo. I still have to order the photo (when I get the $50), which will be soon.

new eddie

The stage picture of Duffy’s Tavern radio program and one or two poster’s of  movies that Eddie produced and starred in will be featured also. Duffy’s Tavern radio program is where Eddie rise took him on his journey from the alley house he lived in as a child in Baltimore. On his way to Duffy’s though he made movies, wrote songs (A Good Man is Hard to Find) owned a string of Barbecue restaurants, and even performed on the very first demonstration of television in 1936. In 1940 Eddie’s movie Dress Rehearsal was the first all-black cast movie to be shown on television, a short (20 mins) which came on right after a film about the World’s Fair.

courtesy live auctioneers
courtesy live auctioneers

I have put these elements together as a book cover, but I can’t figure out how to paste it into this post.  Of course, when the whole thing is put together, I will announce it here with pictures.

My father’s life is a true inspiration to me, especially as he started out in the early 1900’s when it was a truly difficult world for people of color, but Eddie took the bull by the horns and ran with it. Eddie’s faith in himself and his process secured him his break into burlesque theater in New York.  He was in Tampa, Florida in 1920 touring with his company when he noticed an advertisement in the Billboard for a comedian.  Eddie had an engraver make him a letterhead with a fancy border and big letters that read “De Luxe Players”. There were 18 players in his company so he listed himself as “Eddie Green, owner-comedian-manager-director-organizer”.   He got the job.  He also got the job because he was truly funny. He put in the work to get where he got. Eddie was quoted as saying “You get respect, if you know your business.”

Have faith in yourself, know your business and do the work, and great things will happen in your life.

Thanks, for stopping by.

A BIT OF REHASH AND SOMETHING NEW

Eddie Green-Getty Image  Hello there, today I am going to do a short re-cap of this gentleman’s (my father, Eddie Green) story so far, for those who have just tuned in, or may have forgotten my previous posts, or maybe it’s just for myself while I wrap my head around the fact that I must get back into posting mode, from book writing mode.

This month, if Eddie had still been alive he would be 124 years old on August 16th.   Even though I am way past grown, I still sometimes wish Eddie hadn’t died in 1950.  I mean, people do live a long time.  I know there was a French lady who lived until she was 124, and  Jiroemon Kimura became the oldest man in history on December 28, 2012, at the age of 115.  So, Eddie could have lived until 2015, if Life’s plan had been my plan.

Eddie was born in 1891 in East Baltimore in a poor neighborhood.  He left home when he was nine, became a “Boy Magician” to support himself, and by the age of eighteen, in 1909 he married his first wife.

svf_b_streets_biddle_alley

By 1917, Eddie was living at 1405 Ten Pin Alley and was working at the Standard Theater as a magician, with a little bit of comedy thrown in, and he was also performing handy man chores.

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Standard Theater

That June, Eddie signed up with the draft board for WWI, I don’t know where he may have been stationed or if he stayed at home because by now he and his wife had a child, my step-sister.

005150793_04693 (2)This is a tiny picture of a 2-page draft card,, but notice that a corner has been torn off, which is how the Government kept track of the Black men that were signed up.  The document says:

Name:Edward Green

City:Baltimore

State:Maryland

Birthplace:Maryland,United States of America

Birth Date:16 Aug 1891

Race:African (Black)

Draft Board: 05

By the year 1921, Eddie had dropped his magic act and had gone into comedy on the Vaudeville and Burlesque stage.

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By 1929 Eddie appears in the play “Hot Chocolates” along with Louis Armstrong, and “Fats” Waller, and Eddie also wrote the comedy sketches for “Hot Chocolates”, as listed on this album cover which you can see if you have really good eyesight.

$_57

1939, we find Eddie, as “KoKo”, singing “Tit Willow” in the Mike Todd adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Mikado”, “The Hot Mikado.”

On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang “Willow, titwillow, titwillow”
And I said to him, “Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing ‘Willow, titwillow, titwillow'”
“Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?” I cried
“Or a rather tough worm in your little inside”
With a shake of his poor little head, he replied
“Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”

hotmikado13

Eddie is “KoKo”, the little guy with the tall white hat.  He was the Lord High Executioner.  Isn’t he cute?

And now we are at the place I left off with my last post (does that make sense?).

By now, late 1939, Eddie is on his third wife, they are living on 138th Street in New York, and at the beginning of 1940, Eddie wrote, directed, produced and starred in his third film “Comes Midnight”, which, per some reviews, was his best film yet.

61FklgttwBL._SY450_ (2)There are some funny stories about the making of this movie, which I will go into in my next post.

I cannot emphasize enough how much pleasure I am getting from researching my father’s life for a book and for this blog.  I encourage you to consider delving into the history of someone in your family, because what I have found is that I am learning so much more about the people who came before me, who worked hard day and night to foster progress in this country and in this world.   And, I continue to be blown away by new people who come into my life via this blog and who provide me with additional information.   Just people who share the same interests.  My father’s hobby was ham radio.  He would talk to people all over the world and I am beginning to be able to understand his enjoyment of simply connecting with people.

Ok, gotta go.  Thank you, for stopping by.

CAMERAS, LIGHTS……..

 

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When trying to write a book and posts for a blog, I forget there are other things to attend to.  Like grocery shopping, washing, visiting friends, calling people, eating three meals a day (ha!).  So every now and then I have to do these things.  When I get back to my laptop, it takes a while for my brain to settle back into the writing process (where was I?, what did I do with my highlighter?), so I waste a few minutes getting back in the groove of writing, and I was wondering today how in the world my father could do everything he did as a comedian, businessman, a director and a writer?  Then I remembered, he had a wife.  I just have me.

Which brings me to an article I found written in 1940, about Eddie, after he had begun his movie making career.  This was a full page article discussing Eddie as a comedian (funny), and as a business man (sensible).  It begins:  “Everybody knows Eddie Green as Koko in the “Hot Mikado”, or as the chief characters in his skit on Christopher Columbus and on Jonah and the Whale, (which he did on the Rudy Valley radio show), but there is another Eddie Green who is akin to these characters, but who is also very different.  That is Eddie Green Himself.”

The article goes on to discuss Eddie’s comedic talent, the fact that he owns and operates two barbecue restaurants in New York,

“Eddie Green’s Bar-Bee-Q 2149 8th (near 116) Specializing in Southern Bar-Bee-Q.
Always Open. Finest South’n hospitality. E. Green, Host.”

and that he is a writer and producer of “what many people believe are the finest films being released about our people.”  This paper was the Baltimore Afro American.   The article includes this quote from Eddie:

“The first thing I try for is naturalness.  I write my own stories, building them around some incident that has been interesting, but not offensive.”

The article mentions, that although Eddie had already released three films, he had no picture scheduled that summer because he was concentrating on a beauty contest at the World’s Fair.

Towards the end of the article, they talk about Eddie’s typical day.  He is up at 8 and off to the office.  At lunch he has coffee with Mrs. Green, at home, or she comes to the office.  If he is broadcasting, he goes to rehearsal, if not, he goes back to his office until dinner, then he goes home to eat.  He likes ham and cabbage which he taught Mrs. Green to cook.  He tinkers with his ham radio, then at 10:00p.m. he goes to check on his restaurants till about 12:00, then goes back home.  Mrs. Green, (the wife before my mom), was an entertainer, but decided to become a stay-at-home wife.  I assume that she did all the shopping, and washing, and cleaning, so Eddie had only to concentrate on his career path, he didn’t have to worry about thing falling apart at home.

In 1939, Eddie began a new venture and opened his own motion picture company:

movie company formed
in harlem
NEW YORK, Aug. 24  With familiar theatrical figure Eddie Green as guiding light, a new motion picture company was formed this week, the “Sepia Arts Pictures Company.”  Los Angeles California Eagle, August 24, 1939

Eddie’s first film was:

courtesy live auctioneers
courtesy live auctioneers

In my ongoing research I have actually seen my father’s original script for this movie.  Remarkable!  Though the script lists the cast members, it is difficult to tell which person was in which movie.  Anywho, “Dress Rehearsal” would have a long run, at theaters and on television, as noted below:

NEW YORK, Dec. 21.—History was made here Saturday
afternoon, Dec. 16, when the National Broadcasting Company picked the Sepia-Art Pictures Company’s featurette,”Dress Rehearsal,” featuring Eddie Green, to broadcast over their television station here in New York City. Not only is “Dress Rehearsal” the ” first ” Negro motion picture ever to be broadcast by television, Mr. Green breaks a precedent by staring in the first film of its kind ever to be sent over the air.  Pittsburgh Courier  12/23/39

AND, at the

Vogue  1905 Columbia
Edw. G. Robinson, “Destroyer”
Eddie Green, “Dress Rehearsal”   Dec 9, 1943

I do not have the rights yet, if ever, to post much information regarding scripts, but I did get a piece of a skit:  Eddie (who is the Director, the Writer and the Star of this featurette) is late getting to the set, so he is speeding and gets stopped by a policeman.  The policeman asks Eddie where he is coming from, Eddie says New Jersey, the policeman says “how did you ever get through the Harlem Tunnel?  Eddie says, “there’s a hole on both ends!”  Ba Dump Bump!

I hope that those reading these posts find inspiration for pursuing their own goals even though they may seem unattainable.  No matter the time period or the climate.  More action coming up!  Thanks for stopping by.