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.

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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.
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Outstanding in His Field

Pittsburgh Courier
Pittsburgh Courier

A Woman’s a Fool – to Be Clever

National Theater

Opening Date:October 18, 1938

Closing Date:October 22, 1938

Playwright: Dorothy Bennett, Link Hannah

Opening Night Cast
Vera Allen Christine Foster
Donald Foster Lew Lerner
Eddie Green Major
Margie Ann Kaufman Rosemary Littleproud
Ian Keith Jeff Foster
Edith Meiser Josephine Lerner
Edwin Philips Eddie Sommers
Sandra Stanton Minerva Himmelman

It’s too bad this play had only seven performances.  According to the critics, it was a flop.  However, the critics were in agreement that, Eddie Green as “the cast’s lone Negro actor” gave the best performance.  Eddie, in the role of butler and coachman for the Foster family, was “genuinely funny.”  The newspaper articles mentioned also that Eddie had appeared many times as a guest on Rudy Vallee’s radio hour, and that he had also held a spot with Gee Gee James over the airways with Louie Armstrong and his revue.

The Pittsburgh Courier said “Even Walter Winchell, in his review of the play published in the Daily Mirror agrees “that the most popular member of the earnest little troupe is Eddie Green.”  And “to him is entrusted a few sallies.”

Walter Winchell worked for the New York Daily Mirror where he became the author of what would be the first syndicated gossip column, titled On-Broadway.

Using connections in the entertainment, social, and governmental realms, he would expose exciting or embarrassing information about celebrities in those industries. .  His newspaper column was syndicated in over 2,000 newspapers worldwide, and he was read by 50 million people a day from the 1920s until the early 1960s. His Sunday-night radio broadcast was heard by another 20 million people from 1930 to the late 1950s. It was a big deal then to get a thumbs-up from Mr. Winchell.  My mom did not have a lot of information about Eddie before she married him , but she did know about the mention from Mr. Winchell, so this was one item I grew up having knowledge of, and I knew, even as a child the importance of a Walter Winchell mention.

Growing up I knew so much less about my father than I do now, but I always had a sense of pride in his accomplishments, though for a long time I wished he hadn’t died and left me.  Anywho, Eddie did die in 1950, and with the book I am writing I have gotten as far as 1940.  Soon I will need to have a title, something like “Eddie Green, Star of Stage, Screen and Radio” or, Eddie Green, Renaissance Man, or “Who Was Eddie Green?”, or “An In-Depth Look At A Forgotten Star”.  I have had sixty different titles in my head. Suggestions are welcomed.

Thank you, for stopping by.