This is So Cool.

 

This is going to either make me or break me. Which is really not the point here. The point is to show the necessity of yesterday. (thanks, Ben)

Last month a new CD dropped featuring old time black-face cartoon figures. And they were featured in a purposely seemingly demeaning way. The song seems to say that the Black person’s role (even the more affluent Black person) today is not much different than it was then, in some people’s eyes. Seems pessimistic to me. The song went Platinum in a week. One week.

The book I have written about my father has been a hard sell to some Blacks today because of the era in which my father lived. Some people do not see, and do not want to see, the relevance of yesterday’s all-black cast movies or old time radio, or vaudeville as it applies to progress. As for myself, I understand. Seeing my father in blackface has taken some getting used to. It’s still kind of embarrassing to admit my father was a blackface comedian. And if I am embarrassed what do I expect from others?

As you can see in the photo “From Broadway to Okeh”, Eddie performed In Connie’s Hot Chocolates as a blackface comedian. The sketch that he wrote and performed was so funny the Okeh record label recorded it and him.

According to Wikipedia, “it was through blackface minstrelsy that African American performers first entered the mainstream of American show business. Blackface served as a springboard for hundreds of artists and entertainers—black and white—many of whom later would go on to find work in other performance traditions. White audiences in the 19th Century wouldn’t accept real black entertainers on stage unless they performed in blackface makeup. blackface in vaudeville also provided opportunities for Blacks who performed in blackface. From the early 1930s to the late 1940s, New York City’s famous Apollo Theater in Harlem featured skits in which almost all black male performers wore the blackface makeup and huge white painted lips, despite protests that it was degrading from the NAACP. The comics said they felt “naked” without it.”

Eddie’s rise to stardom included not just his talent but his willingness to take the difficult road ahead of him. He climbed the ladder from the bottom rung to success. And he did it well. He became successful because whatever he did he did it the best way he knew how. He was an Actor.

Eddie’s career choice led to a very successful life. Once he appeared in the first public television broadcast as that Harlem Funster, Eddie Green along with his partner George Wiltshire (the first two Black men to appear on television in 1936), his career shot up from there. you can buy the book to read about the rest.

Suffice it to say that by 1948 Eddie was doing swell, the next photo is Eddie from an article announcing his fifth movie, Mr. Adam’s Bomb and my mom, the former Norma Amato, aspiring opera star who married Eddie in 1945.

On June 26, 1948 there was an article in the New York Age newspaper about my father and his thoughts on television:

Eddie Greens Firm Aids Show Business Through Television. The fast growing field of television offers a fertile one for Negro performers, is the opinion of radio comedian, Eddie Green, who revealed that because of this fact his motion picture firm has interested advertising agencies in having their sponsors products sold to the millions who view television via the singing and dancing route.
Designed to catch and hold the attention of the millions who want entertainment on video, Green asserted that instead of the hackneyed manner of selling national consumer goods to the public, his firm will “Deliver the message in a way to keep viewers from turning the dial”. Organized two months ago in Los Angeles with the famed comedian as president, Sepia Productions has already lined up five three-minute skits which they plan to lease or sell outright to ad agencies.
Backstage at the Strand Theatre here, where he’s a member of the “Duffy’s Tavern” radio show,  Green said that colored performers have their niche in the television picture and they should demand that their agents establish contacts with those that handle the shows in order not to be left out in the cold when the infant industry attains maturity. He pointed out that the decline of vaudeville witnessed many good Negro acts going out of business and little hope for the birth of new talent was anticipated until television offered vast potentialities.

I hope to be able to create a more optimistic view of our pioneers efforts and achievements from back in the day and how they benefit us today. This may be a long shot, but I want to make their achievements “cool”. As in “yea, that’s cool”. And then if my book were a CD there’s got to be enough optimists out there to make it go platinum!!

Hey, thanx, for stopping by, please KCB.

https://www.facebook.com/elvagreenbookpage/

 

 

 

Advertisements

A MOTHER’S LOVE AND PERSONAL INITIATIVE

Mums and Babies

This is not a political article, though I have been influenced in part by the fact that our 44th President, Mr. Barack Obama was a proponent of the use of personal initiative. There is a belief in some circles that personal initiative and hard work is enough to overcome obstacles confronting young black men. Others pooh-pooh the “bootstrap” approach. They believe that better living conditions, better education opportunities are also necessary to help a young man achieve his potential. Both are good points.

There is also a modern day belief that Black men born into poverty are good candidates for being drawn into a life of crime other than a life of legitimate success. Some modern day beliefs are that “soundbites” in the news contribute to the mindset that Black men (when  arrested in t-shirts and low-cut jeans) are seen as a threat. (Blacks in the News: television, modern racism and cultural change By Robert M. Entman-journalism quarterly, pg 35.)

In 1910, when my father was coming of age Blacks made up only thirteen percent of the population but twenty-seven percent of those were in prison. In the South in 1910, Blacks comprised 30 percent of  the population yet made up 60 percent of those incarcerated (US Census Report 1910).

This racial incarceration gap could have had many causes, including discrimination in arrest and sentencing, differences in family background, lack of job opportunities for blacks, higher urbanization rates of blacks, and differences in educational attainment. (Access to Schooling and the Black-White Crime Gap in the Early 20th Century US South: Evidence from Rosenwald Schools. Katherine Eriksson December 31, 2014.)

When my father, Eddie Green, left home at the age of nine in 1900, the presence of structural racism, the after effects of slavery, the lack of education for Black people, and the lack of healthcare was not a problem for him. The constant objections of White Americans to African-Americans was, evidently, not a problem to him. The lack of job opportunities and differences in family backgrounds was not an issue. He had discovered he could thrive on his own without resorting to criminal acts but through his own talents and his ability to take care of business. He had been raised right.  HE HAD ACQUIRED PERSONAL INITIATIVE-THE ABILITY TO ACT AND OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES.

For a child born into poverty that life-style is normal. An infant does not realize poverty.   I believe Eddie’s mother provided his early nurturing. Eddie did not have a close connection with his father. I hold the idea that Eddie received love and attention mostly from his mother. Eddie had a love for his mother that he spoke of to my mother.

He learned his work ethics from watching his mother washing countless loads of other people’s clothes and he was hurt by this. He saw that no matter how hard his father worked nothing got any better.  But he also knew  hard work was necessary to survive.

He learned confidence in his ability to take care of himself,  he acquired fearlessness, otherwise how could he have gone out into the mean streets alone. His situation at home prepared him for the streets because what could be worse.

Emotionally, he became the “comedian.” With his comedic talent eventually tending dry humor. He would later become known as a “droll” comedian. Drollery according to the dictionary is a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick and inventive way to create humor.” Evidently Eddie tapped into this natural aptitude early enough to boost his rise to success.

Eddie taught himself to read and discovered books on magic. He found that he liked performing magic tricks and that he was good at it. It was a way to take a person out of the mundane and into a world of fantasy and wonder. He had also determined that he could thrive by traveling through the city offering to perform as a “Boy Magician”.

More than likely Eddie would have read about or heard about successful Black magicians such as William Carl, who in 1890 was billed as the King of the Magicians with a minstrel troupe called Boston’s Merry Musicians, or Alonzo Moore (c.1870-c.1914) who joined Billy Kersands’ Minstrels in 1904.

Eddie had grown up, also, during the time of great African American role models. Men like W. E. B. Dubois, a Black historian and sociologist, who was at the forefront of the civil rights movement, or Frederick Douglass who was also born in Maryland, a slave and who became a social reformer and statesman.

When Eddie left home at the age of nine, he was a good, self-confident, eager, willing, forward-looking, honest and talented young person. He left with the love of his mother cradling him. His circumstances had not made him angry but became a source of determination to have a better, happy life. When money permitted he moved his mother into Gotham City to be close to him. Over the years he would become successful as a Broadway and movie star, a filmmaker, a composer and as an Old Time Radio icon. By the time of his death he had risen to become one of America’s most beloved comedians.

As a testament to his feelings about being Black, this is what Eddie wrote to a radio program titled “The Negro Hour” in 1938 regarding their theme music: “Or you might even pick a suitable stanza from the pen of our poets (Dunbar and others), set it to music. Brilliant forceful music, and thus have a theme song that tells the world, “Here comes an upright, fearless, man”

As a testament to his early learning which I am certain came from his mother, he told the radio announcers this: You must remember that you are gentlemen addressing ladies and gentlemen and if for no other reason than that, a gentleman never raises his voice”.

Fame, Friendship, and (Some) Fortune

martingramsblogspot

Hi. To those of you new to this blog, welcome. As this blog is meant to chronical my writing of a book about my father, I have to let you know that in the past 3 years I have written and published my book. You can of course read through prior posts to get an idea of the story, or you can start here. The picture I have posted is from the radio program that brought fame to my father Eddie Green.  Taken in the early 1940s  This is a shot from the radio program Duffy’s Tavern. The gentleman on the left is the creator and star of the show Ed Gardner (who is cast as Archie.) The gentleman on the right is my father, Eddie Green, who is cast opposite Ed as Eddie the waiter.

Duffy’s Tavern was one of the most popular radio programs during the years 1941-1950, after which time the program was switched to television. Eddie was a part of this show from the beginning until 1950 when he passed away. In 1941 when he was signed on to this program, Eddie had written a best selling song in 1917, plus twenty-nine more songs, he had performed on Broadway, owned Bar-b-que restaurants, appeared on television in the first ever RCA/NBC variety test broadcast to the public, worked with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Louis Armstrong and had written, directed, produced and starred in four all-Black cast movies. He was on the rode to fame.

In 1943 Eddie was fifty-one years old, and at the beginning of the year he filed for bankruptcy. He owed the government $445.00. Probably had something to do with the fact that Eddie had used his own money to start his Sepia Art Pictures movie company and  some of his actors had stared accepting roles with the White owned studios who could pay much more than Eddie. And I think a business deal went awry (meaning “a friend” absconded with some money.) You could still hear him on the weekly Duffy’s Tavern radio program and on other radio programs, too.

In 1945 the money started rolling in again when Paramount decided to make a movie version of Duffy’s Tavern using the regular radio crew in the movie. The movie was titled Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern, directed by Hal Walker, starring a number of Paramount stars such as, Bing Crosby, Alan Ladd, Dorothy Lamour, Barry Fitzgerald, Veronica Lake and William Bendix, to name a few. Oh, and also Ed Gardner, as Archie, Eddie Green, as Eddie the waiter, and Charles Cantor as Finnegan. The next few years saw Eddie’s continued rise to becoming a popular, beloved comedian.

By writing the biography of my father my hope was to bring his inspiring story out of the dark and into the light of awareness, as a way to provide propelling motivation to others. Eddie said that he found the best way to achieve success, is to find something you like to do and do it the best you know how.

One other thing, Eddie and Ed Gardner became very good friends over the years. Today a Green and a Gardner are still friends, me and Ed’s son. We’re pen pals!

Thanx, for stopping by. KCB

Photo courtesy of Martingramsblogspot and Ed Gardner, Jr.

 

 

Research in Black Culture-A Celebration

momwithfur (2)The latest good news is that the biography I have written about my father, Eddie Green, will now be featured in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York.

The picture I have posted with Eddie and Mom (Norma) is in the Eddie Green Portrait Collection also at the Schomburg. I did not put this picture in the book because I do not own the photo. But I want to show it off here because these two look like they are enjoying the good life. Mom made her own hats back then. I don’t remember that fur coat but I do remember her fox fur stole. She kept it in that drawer that I wasn’t supposed to open.

If you have bought the book (thank you so much!!), you will see a picture of Eddie in a white suit and black tie, I was able to purchase a copy of the picture from the Schomburg and it works perfectly for my back cover.cropthisforpost (2)

As a filmmaker, movie and Broadway star and Old Time Radio Icon, Eddie was always sharp. He was a good business man. He was well-read. Eddie travelled with his books. He had his own library at the Hudson Theater in New York. They say a lot of those old time vaudeville actors read a lot of the classics in order to come up with ideas to incorporate into their funny skits, similar to a reference to Shakespeare’s Hamlet that was used in an old Three Stooges movie:

” Among the insane sights in this Stooges short is a burro wearing galoshes. The burro is named “Yorick,” and when it appears it was accidentally blown up, yes, we hear: “Alas, poor Yorick. We knew him well.”

Eddie was a comedian. A good comedian. He was funny, someone said he could not open his mouth without being funny. He didn’t mind acting funny, either.eddiegreensillyphotoas he did in his movie One Round Jones.

Over the time it took for me to write the book, I have had a number of people tell me that Eddie is looking down at me and smiling (even the lady who has my first consignment said it). I don’t know if this is so, but if it is he can now be proud that in 2016 both of our works are housed together in the same public access building in New York. I know I am proud. Thank you Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

And thank you, for stopping by and celebrating with me.

 

 

 

Tooting My Own Horn

websizephototopublisher
Me

Hi, this post will be short and sweet. This is me, Elva Diane Green. This is the photo that will be used on one-page brochures, postcards and flyers by the publisher of the biography I have written on my father Eddie Green. To announce, report, notify, no Broadcast that by the end of this year this visage will be visible all over! Me. Who woulda thunk it?

 

Must be in my genes. Eddie being a songwriter, movie, Broadway and radio star with his picture in the papers back in the day, and my mom pictured alongside of him all dolled up. 3rd set with new pictures 277Maybe it was inevitable that I write the book and have my picture added to the mix.

Stay tuned, more to come.

Thanx, for stopping by.

PICTURE THIS ON A BOOK COVER

329
EDDIE GREEN

This is the picture I want to use on the cover of the biography I have written about my father.  This is the only picture that I own. Norma, my mother, gave me this picture in 1980, I think, as a birthday present.  It was the only picture she had. Eddie died in 1950 and over the years, the other pictures that she had were lost. Some in a house fire in the 70s. I saw the pictures, when I was a little girl.  There was a picture of Eddie and Frank Sinatra on a stage, there was a picture of me in my bassinet with Eddie and Mom standing over me, and there was a picture of Norma’s mother, Sinclaire, with her hair piled up on top of her head and staring stone faced at the camera.  Sinclaire had on a floor length, white dress with buttons all the way up to her chin. An old photo from the 1920s or 1930s. I was shocked when mom gave me this picture of Eddie. She loved this picture.

In the past almost six years that I have been doing the research on the book, I have discovered other pictures of Eddie. Eddie as a customer in a 1929 Vitaphone fifteen-minute movie, Eddie as Ko-ko, the High Executioner in the Hot Mikado on Broadway in 1939, Eddie as a boxer in his own movie One Round Jones, Eddie with Louis Armstrong preparing for their radio program in 1937, Eddie chatting with George Burns, Eddie on an advertisement for the Community Chest during the war years, Eddie and Mom with Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. at my christening.

None of these pictures belong to me. In order to use them in my book, I need to get permission from the copyright holders and pay a fee based on how many books I hope to sell, unless the pictures are in the public domain. Or a family member objects. It’s been so awesome discovering these pictures that I want to put them all in the book.  I am in the process of scanning the ones I can use, however, so that is a good thing.  The publisher may have a say-so on the book cover, but I think they will like Eddie’s “entrepreneurial, star quality” headshot.

Speaking of the publisher.  I have been in communication with a publisher.  Yes!  Soon I will have the pleasure of discussing the publishing side of this venture.  I haven’t exactly started jumping up and down yet, but I am so glad I started this journey. And I am not finished.  I am in the midst of what has become a serious learning process, that of going over my proofreader’s suggestions.

I think that there are many of us who have family members they would like to write about, be they movie stars or stay at home moms, or Uncle Jim, you know, the one who always makes you laugh.  I know there are people out here who are looking for good, uplifting stories. Share yours.

 

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

To Coin a Phrase-PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION

Hi there.  Cutting and pasting is extremely easy.  I should try it more often.  The above is a recording of a song my father, Eddie Green, wrote in 1924.  This song’s copyright was renewed by Eddie just before he died in 1950, and is still in copyright.  Soon, I hope to have the moola to get copies of the paperwork in regard to this song, and a few others.  I  have only learned of these songs in the past five years and I did not realize the Copyright Office wanted so much money to do a search for materials and file new documents!  Anyhoo, I get a kick out of listening to this song.  I haven’t found much information on the lady singing with Eddie, Billie Wilson, but I think this is the only Paramount Recording she did.

I wanted to start this post with something that gives me pleasure, because lately I have begun to feel so confused in regard to the writing I am doing, meaning this blog and my book.  I forget what I wrote where and when.  I have found that in writing these posts, I have gone back and forth, from 1949 to 1917 to 1923 and then to 1945, when, of course, my book, as a biography, is chronological, and this all gets mushed up in my head.

This has been a real learning process for me.  Today, I sat down and tried to put my thoughts and words into some kind of order.

The blog is supposed to relate the progress of my book.  To share portions of the book and any other stories I find inspiring or funny, and to, hopefully, enourage others to research their own family members.

The book is about Eddie, from birth in 1891 to death in 1950.  As of today, I have begun Chapter V – Takes Broadway By Storm.  I will include an article from the Brooklyn Eagle dated July 18, 1929 that begins with this sentence:  “The Whole Town Is Talking About Eddie Green.”  I will also include an article which was written by Eddie in 1949 about this period of 1929 and which I first posted in my second post “Screaming Sirens Can Be Inspiring”.

My chapter titles have changed and I have discovered new information that has had to be inserted into earlier chapters, such as the discovery of  a fourth wife.  I will be blogging about Eddie’s wives.

Hey, thanks for stopping by and I hope you get as much of a kick out of “I’m Sorry For It Now” as I do.