Super Fans “Like” 1900s Entertainer Eddie Green

When I began this blog in 2014 I was still in the process of doing the research for the biography I wrote about my father. I had lots and lots of news articles about Eddie, I had pictures of Eddie that I didn’t even know existed before 2014 and I was finding more and more information about my father than I even suspected. As an entertainer in the early 1900s Eddie was busy. And his doings were routinely printed up in the local newspapers. Mostly the Black newspapers, but also in Billboard (which is still in business today). In the beginning they were just one-liners (Eddie Green at the Gayety), and then as time went by the articles became longer. Then interviews were printed as Eddie got more famous. Five yeas before Eddie died he was featured in the Paramount movie “Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern” (1945). The popularity of the Duffy’s Tavern radio program seemed like a good idea for a full-length movie in which the principal characters of the radio show were signed to play their same parts in the movie,  Ed Gardner as Archie, Charles Cantor as Finnegan, Eddie Green as Eddie the Waiter, and Ann Thomas as Miss Duffy. Paramount used almost their whole roster of stars in this movie:

Bing Crosby as himself; Betty Hutton as herself; Paulette Goddard as herself; Alan Ladd as himself; Dorothy Lamour as herself; Eddie Bracken as himself; Brian Donlevy as himself; Sonny Tufts as himself; Veronica Lake as herself; Arturo de Córdova as himself; Barry Fitzgerald as Bing Crosby’s Father; Cass Daley as herself; Diana Lynn as herself; Victor Moore as Michael O’Malley; Marjorie Reynolds as Peggy O’Malley; Barry Sullivan as Danny Murphy; Robert Benchley as himself. If you look this movie up on the Internet you can see a color poster of the whole cast, except for Eddie. But the longer I spent researching the book, the more I found. The photo at the top of this post (I hope it’s there), is a black and white version and Eddie is pictured at the bottom in the left hand corner, the only Black person in the cast. Being signed for a part in this movie was a good thing actually, for Eddie. Publicity-wise and money-wise.

Since publishing my father’s biography what I have discovered is that there exists much more information about my father that I did not find, but others have. Fans of my father have sent me pictures, articles and cd’s of Eddie’s radio shows. My publisher told me early on that I would probably find more information and that I should save it up for a second book about Eddie. Well, he was right. Even today 2020 in the past week I have been contacted by someone who has a couple of pictures and a Duffy’s Tavern (DT) beer mug from the 1948-49 season. I didn’t even know DT beer mugs existed. A Twitter friend sent me dozens of articles he found while doing some research. He said in his first email: “It’s been so interesting tracing Eddie’s career – he was really well-known, and liked.” This is so remarkable to me that these people have taken the time to trace Eddie’s career and have held on to items related to Eddie. If you are an old movie fan you will recognize the name Adolphe Menjou in the Lincoln Theatre ad. He was famous! And there’s Eddie Green appearing at the same theater.

Of course, I could go on and on about my father. Since I don’t really remember him, writing about and talking about him brings me a type of peace. Something that makes me feel good always. This is my Black History. This man though born in 1891 chose to drag himself out of his childhood poverty, taught himself to read and chose a path that he liked and was good at and became quite successful in the field of entertainment. Plus, he was a nice guy while doing so. He became well-known and “liked”.

Thanx, for stopping by and for new people to my blog: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer is the name of my book. 🙂

BLACK HISTORY VS SUPER BOWL

I’m typing this on Super Bowl Sunday the second day of February. February has been designated Black History Month (or as Mr. Obama said: African-American History Month). We progressed over the years from 1926 when we celebrated Negro History Week. As a matter of fact there was a Negro Week at the 1940 New York World’s Fair. However, when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around on February 2, 2020 it’s all about football. Yea, it’s just one day. But the lead up is crazy. And do you know how much some of those tickets cost? This year I have noticed that people are focusing on civil and voting rights for Black Americans or lack thereof back in the day. What I want to do is celebrate Black Historical Americans. Especially those who may not receive much notice these days. Of course, I could just post about famous Black footballers like Ray Kemp. But I’m not really into football, so I would have to do a bit of extra research. Which is how I found this guy:

 

Raymond Howard Kemp (April 7, 1907 – March 26, 2002) was an American football player and a charter member of the Pittsburgh Pirates football team (now called the Pittsburgh Steelers). He was also the first African-American player in the team’s history. It’s kind of amazing to me that this man was still alive in 2002 and I’ve never heard mention of him. I am not a big football fan but I have watched a few games and I have seen the Gayle Sayers movie (a heart-breaker). What I’m saying is that there are a lot of Black Americans in history who have made great contributions that we do not hear about. Even if they played football.

 

What I know a lot more about is my father’s life. As the title of my book says, a Black American Entertainment Pioneer. Eddie Green. In this post I am sharing about Eddie in 1941. He was 50 years old, and had become a filmmaker, working his way up from a poverty-stricken childhood, through vaudeville, burlesque, the stage and many radio programs as a magician, a dancer and comedian. His household fame hadn’t come yet, but his name was always in the local Black newspapers. Eddie used a lot of young women in his movies as chorus girls. He would find his ladies at beauty contests. In 1941 there was a contest at the Renaissance Club in Harlem. Eddie presented the winner of the “Miss Glamourous” contest. Her name is Millicent Roberts. Millicent was 101 years old a couple of years ago. A living legend of Black History-when we had Black beauty contests. She also had a part in one of Eddie’s movies “What’s Going Up”.

I celebrate Black history every day. Through my mother and my father. My mom’s got some Italian mixed in on her father’s side but she always identified as Black. (This sometimes caused her problems-in later life she told people she was a gypsy and they would not question her further.) Anyhow, I’ll be posting in celebration of Black History this month. Because there is a lot of good information out there about African-American history that needs to be shared. History that has been blended in with the stories of America that make for great reading.

Thanx, for stopping by and Keep Coming Back!

 

 

Photo of Ray Kemp: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34938508

 

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.

 

Black History Month Grips Nation

 

eddieedgardner
Eddie Green & Ed Gardner in Paramount’s Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern (1945)

From a 1950 article in the Chicago Defender newspaper regarding Eddie Green: “Radio was his forte. He became the lovable Eddie of Duffy’s Tavern and his quick answers to Ed “Archie” Gardner’s problems won him thousands of ardent fans”.

In honor of Black History Month I am promoting  my father as one of the pioneers of black history who so far has not gotten as much attention as say a Frederick Douglas, orator, writer and social reformer, or a William Grant Still, the first Black American composer to have an opera performed by the New York City Opera, though Eddie was a filmmaker, writer and director of his own movies and he was also a composer of twenty-nine songs, one being “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. And I am promoting him because in the early 1900s he had thousands of ardent fans. Eddie has earned his place in America’s Black History.

I am glad we have a Black History Month. When I worked for the VA I was glad when they celebrated Hispanic History because bands came out and played and people brought books about their culture and everyone had a good time. Any celebration is good as far as I am concerned. Everyone should celebrate who they are.

Now, truth be told, until this year I have never studied the origins of Black History Month. I would acknowledge Jackie Robinson and George Washington Carver (the only black person I remember reading about when I was about eight years old), and I know I am black and before you knew it the month was over. I have written a book now about my father and in doing the research on this book I found a new interest in Black history.

My father was thirty-five years old in 1926 when the precursor to Black History Month, Negro History Week, was started.  On February 7, 1926, Carter G. Woodson initiated the first National Negro Week. Every club, society, church or school was entitled to the Negro History Week pamphlet free of charge.

By 1935 the New York Age newspaper printed this headline Negro History Week Grips Nation “Negro History Week literature has been distributed in batches of thousands throughout the country, and it may still be obtained from Dr. C. G. Woodson.” This idea was hot!! Fast forward to 1976 and as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. Forward to now, where is the Black History Month Grips Nation headline? So I wrote it.

I know that Eddie would want me to celebrate Black History Month because here in America we have added the history of a Black President to what was once celebrated as Negro History Week.

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

http://www.bearmanormedi.com (Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer)