49,957 words

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49,957 words.

Need to cross some more tees and dot some more iiiis (eyes). I’m feeling a little silly, cause I’m nervous. It has come time for me to begin my search for readers to proof my manuscript. I could not, for the life of me, come up with an idea for a post, so I decided to post Chapter Two of my tentatively titled book:

 Eddie Green: Star of Stage, Screen, Radio and Television

A Biography

Chapter Two: A Good Man Is Hard To Find

While continuing to perform as a magician, in 1916, Eddie wrote a silent movie titled, Eddie Green’s Rehearsal, which gives an early indication of the direction in which Eddie was heading. This movie was directed, produced and distributed by Eddie, the cast was Eddie. The movie was about a man by the name of Eddie Green, who is desperate to get into show business. Eddie borrows a friend’s clothes and car, and goes to an audition. He tells jokes, sings and generally performs to an encore. This scenario proved to be prophetic.

The movie did not actually make it to the big screen, at least not in its original format, and not until 1939, but it had enough merit to warrant a mention, in the form of a “clipping,” which was placed in a folder at the Margaret Herrick Library, a non-circulating reference and research library devoted to the history and development of the motion picture as an art form, where I found it in 2015, sixty-five years later.

About a year after Eddie wrote his silent movie, The United States entered World War I. Eddie was twenty-six years old when he reported to his draft board. I have not found out yet, where he may have been stationed. However, the information on his draft registration card provided me a good source of information. Listed was Eddie’s address at the time, 1405 Ten Pin Alley, in Baltimore, Maryland. Research showed me that Ten Pin Alley was, literally, an alley, located in what was then Ward 5, a part of East Baltimore, which, though dirty and crowded, was basically the only place in which poor blacks were allowed to live. Noted also on the card, was his occupation, actor, his place of employment, the Standard Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the fact that he was married and had a child.

Eddie’s place of employment in 1917, the Standard Theater was owned by a Mr. John T. Gibson, a native of Baltimore, who also ran Gibson’s Auditorium Theatre on South Street and made good money booking Black vaudeville acts on the national “chitlin circuit.” Stars such as Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters, also performed at the Standard. Ticket sales at the Standard helped make Gibson the “richest black man in Philadelphia.”

While at the Standard, Eddie dropped the magic tricks from his act. After catching one of his shows, a stage manager told Eddie to, “Get rid of the paraphernalia and just do comedy, you are really funny.” Eddie took the man’s advice and began performing strictly as a comedian, eventually adding singing and”soft shoe” dancing to his routine.

It was during this time, that Eddie wrote the his first of his twenty-nine songs, “A Good Man is Hard to Find, “ which he copyrighted on December 28, 1917, in Chicago. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a bluesy type of song, explaining what a woman should do when she manages to get a “good” man. Six months later, Eddie sold his song and on June 2, 1918, the song was copyrighted by Pace and Handy Music Publishers (Home of the Blues), and went on sale as a piano roll in the Fort Wayne Gazette.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” became a hit. January 4, 1919, Eddie got his first top billing as an entertainer, though his name, as the songwriter, was in tiny print. The name of the song was in big, bold letters right at the top of the Billboard page. The Billboard listed the song as “a 1,000,000 copy hit, sure fire applause getter for any singing act or combination on the stage.”

Marion Harris, a popular singer, most successful in the 1920s, the first widely known white singer to sing jazz and blues songs, recorded the song in 1919 for Victor Records. Miss Harris’s recording has been digitized at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation.

Eddie decided to put together a company of eighteen actors, which he called the “Deluxe Players,” and as owner and manager of the “Deluxe Players,” he began to tour the south, featuring his song, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” performing in places such as Tampa, Florida and St. Louis, Missouri. Eddie and his company were a sensation in St. Louis at the Booker Washington Theater, as was printed by the St. Louis Argus, January 9, 1920: “Green with his droll humor, and his coterie of performers made a big hit during a previous performance at this house.” The show bristled with tuneful melodies, graceful and eccentric dances and a barrel of side-splitting comedy.”

Eddie’s song caught the attention of Miss Sophie Tucker, one of the most popular entertainers at that time, known as, “the last of the red hot mammas.” While performing in the Sophie Tucker Room in Reisenweber’s in New York, Miss Tucker sang “A Good Man is Hard to Find” every night for ten consecutive weeks, and “will continue to use it until her engagement terminates.” Miss Tucker said that, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is “the best blue number she has ever used.” {Photo 1. Caption: Sophie Tucker Says.}

This song has been recorded as a blues number, a fox trot and a swing number, by such greats as Wilbur C. Sweatman’s Jazz Orchestra, Les Brown and his Orchestra, Louis Prima and his Orchestra, Jess Stacy and his Orchestra, Dorothy Loudon with the Honky Tonks, William’s Cotton Club Orchestra, Muggsy Spanier, the Alabama Red Peppers, “Fats” Waller, Bessie Smith, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Cass Daley, Big Maybelle, Brenda Lee, Nancy Wilson, and Carol Channing, to name a few, and a version of the song has been heard in Woody Allen’s recent film Blue Jasmine, and even more recently in HBO’s 2015 presentation of Bessie. As was Sophie Tucker before her, Bessie Smith was instrumental in popularizing, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”

As I write this, I am realizing that, as the years went by, Eddie must have been aware of the impact this song had on people. At the time he wrote this song, though, he probably had a need for whatever money he received when he sold it to Pace and Handy. The popularity of this song, did, however, announce the arrival of Eddie Green, and with his talent for getting laughs, and his willingness to work for what he wanted, Eddie was on his way up.

End of Chapter Two

Hey, thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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STAYING FOCUSED ON THE GOOD STUFF

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, written by Eddie Green and popularized by the singer Bessie Smith in 1927.

Hi there!  I missed out.  I wanted to watch “Bessie” with Queen Latifah on HBO, May 16th, but my landlady cancelled our cable, boo hoo.  I received a comment today about “Bessie”, so of course I had to see if I could find it on the net.  For this post, however, I decided to post a video of Bessie Smith singing the song my father wrote way back in 1917.

There were also a few other people who recorded the song, for instance:

A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND
By Eddie Green
Marion Harris – 1919
Wilbur C. Sweatman’s Jazz Orchestra – 1919
Viola McCoy – 1927
Eddie Condon & His Band – 1940
Butch Stone – 1942
Frank Sinatra – 1951
George Lewis – 1953
Big Maybelle – 1956
Brenda Lee – 1959
Also recorded by: Trinity; Di Anne Price; Bix Beiderbecke; Fats Waller; Rosemary Clooney; Les Brown;
Champion Jack Dupree; Barbra Streisand; Frances Faye; Hank Thompson; Lizzie Miles; Louis Prima;
Carol Channing; Nancy Wilson; Ralph Sutton; Juanita Hall; Kid Ory; Judith Durham; Dorothy Loudon;
Bob Wills, to name a few.

I should be finished with the first draft of my book about Eddie at the beginning of June.  I have the feeling that this year will be a good time for this book to become available.  To my knowledge, Eddie’s song has been performed in two recent movies, “Bessie” and “Blue Jasmin” (a Woody Allen movie).  I love the fact that this song has endured and remained relevant all these years.  Eddie died in 1950, so he was only aware of a few of these people performing the song.   While he was alive  he knew a few of the people on the above list, like Fats Waller and Frank Sinatra.  Oh yeah, and Sophie Tucker, he knew Sophie, she used Eddie’s song as her “torch” song (if you are too young to remember Sophie Tucker, look her up, she was what they called a “real hot mama” back in the day.

My father continues to provide the inspiration that helps me stay focused on this book-writing process, as do those who read my posts and those who comment.    Eddie has shown me that there are obstacles in life, Eddie had them as a Black man living his life in the early 20th century through 1950, but he never stopped moving forward,  he went on to write 29 more songs, to perform on Broadway and radio, and even to write, produce and star in his own movies, as I have mentioned in previous posts and will elaborate on in future posts.  I am experiencing a sense of optimism through tracing Eddie’s life and I hope I am able to pass this feeling on.  Thanks so much for stopping by.

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