This movie, written, directed and produced by my father, Eddie Green, in which he also starred, prompted one journalist to refer to Eddie as the “comic movie making mogul”, because the movie proved to be quite popular.
Dress Rehearsal (1939) was Eddie’s first movie that was released under Sepia-Art Pictures Co. (which Eddie owned) at the 125th Street Apollo in New York on October 21, 1939. The film was also shown in the Lichtman chain of theaters in the South. Eddie’s sales manager reported that after the first showing of the movie the “White as well as the Black audiences grabbed at it greedily.” And that due to this unexpected phenomenon “the entire plant had to be reorganized.” The “plant” being Eddie’s movie studio in Palisades, New Jersey.
The next “first” for Eddie is that in December of 1939 the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) picked Dress Rehearsal for broadcast over their television station in New York, making this movie the first Black (Negro in those days) motion picture to be sent out over the air.
Unfortunately, I have yet to locate copies of this film, although I do have copies of a script. The original script is kept in the Margaret Herrick Museum which is a non-circulating reference and research collection devoted to the history and development of the motion picture.
Today, I am looking forward to my first “First,” my upcoming book signing event. On November 9, 2016 at 7:00PM PST I will be at Book Soup in Los Angeles signing Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. When I started this book writing venture I concentrated only on research and writing. I intended to present this book to my grandson as inspiration to go forward with his life. It turns out that my father’s story has provided inspiration for me and a lot of other people who have read the book or seen this blog. During this process, however, it never dawned on me that I would have book signings.
To paraphrase Norma Desmond, after this book signing there will be another one and another one! I already have two invites. This first one though has become a sort of celebration for me so I am having snacks, and a comedy clip and a reading and a raffle. And of course my marketing continues. I have become a part of a couple of social media sites and I am beginning to be a bit more outgoing in regard to “selling” the book.
One thing I know is that if I have a desire to do something, I can. And if the something I want to do gives me pleasure I will take the necessary steps to get it done. My father was a good example of that. Anyone can do the same. I appreciate my followers on this site because they help me to keep writing. I hope you will mention this blog to others so that we can spread the inspiration.
Thanks, for stopping by and KCB.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.