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

Surrounded By Flowers

mildredandeddie1939but1946poster

So this is my father, in a photo at a studio, surrounded by beautiful women. I have recently purchased a copy of the original photo, minus all the text. I even know now who took the picture way back in 1940. I didn’t know, until about a year ago, that these photos still existed. That they had been donated to a library here in California. The fact that at least one of the ladies is still with us, (Millicent, in the black dress), was a wonderful piece of knowledge I have also recently received. New knowledge and acquisitions have necessitated a few minor revisions to my book, but it’s all good.  Looking at this particular picture reminds me of what my mom, Norma, once told me-that Eddie enjoyed being around pretty women.  Like being surrounded by flowers.

Something I have discovered in the last five years about my father, is that Eddie enjoyed getting married, too. I learned that Norma, my mom, was his fourth wife.  I always knew Eddie had been married once before mom, and that I had a half sister from that earlier union, but the fact that Eddie had two more wives was news to me.  I only found out through my census searches.

Eddie married for the first time in 1909, to a lady born about the same time he was born, and in 1910 he and his wife had a daughter.  By 1930, Eddie’s first wife and their daughter were living in Philadelphia, and Eddie was married to his second wife, a twenty-nine year old nightclub dancer, and living in Manhattan. This second marriage only lasted two years.  By 1932, Eddie married wife number three, a twenty-two year old Trenton, New Jersey lady.  They lived in Harlem on 138th Street. This marriage was the first marriage Eddie discussed in a newspaper interview saying his wife would stay home and listen to his radio broadcasts and then tell him how he sounded. Eddie said that sometimes with him “his voice gets too high.” This third marriage lasted through 1940 or so while Eddie was in his first movie making venture.

By 1944, Eddie moved to Los Angeles, alone.  One of Eddie’s friends was Louise Beavers (an actress who appeared in the movie Imitation of Life). Eddie boarded with Louise in her house in the “Sugar Hill” district of Los Angeles, until he found and bought his own house, announcing that “he was just waiting for the right lovely to come along.”  Enter wife number four, my mom, Norma, twenty-two years old.  Mom was Eddie’s last wife, as he died in 1950.  Mom was young and beautiful, and she had a lot of young and beautiful girlfriends who were always hanging around the house, because, she said, their house was the place to be.  Eddie was a lucky man, a gentleman and a Star.

Thank you, for stopping by.

 

 

SINGING, DANCING, DRAMA, BLACK HISTORY

Eddie as KoKo
Eddie as KoKo

Hello there, this is so funny to me.  I was trying to crop a picture and this is what I got.  A hand-drawn cropping, almost looks like somebody’s profile.  Anyhow, my mom used to say, “You learn something new everyday.”  Here is something I learned while looking for information on my father, Eddie, from when he played “Koko” in the Hot Mikado in 1939.  I found this article from 1962, in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Tonight at 8:00, the esteemed Sir Arthur Sullivan would have rarely looked more dour . . . and Sir William Gilbert might have returned to his law practice were they alive to hear the liberties taken In the late 30s version of Mikado.  Tonight we take a second listen as “Ko-Ko”, “Nam-Poo”, “Yum-Yum”, “Katisha” and friends go modern in Hot Mikado with Bill Robinson and Eddie Green.”

A good little blurb to add to my book.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson turned sixty-one while starring in the Mike Todd version of Hot Mikado as the Mikado.  A local newspaper ran this ad:

“A second negro production of “The Mikado” in modern swing tempo, entitled The Hot Mikado opens tonight at the Broadhurst with Bill Robinson, the tap dancer, in the lead role.”

Michael Todd, producer of the play sponsored an after-theater party on stage at the Broadhurst Theater, where the cast of the play, members of the Cotton Club and a bunch of friends drank a toast to Bill’s health and wished him many happy returns.

Bill Robinson-Wikipedia
Bill Robinson-Wikipedia

According to the New York Age, “following the toastmaking, Eddie Green, “Koko” of Hot Mikado on behalf of the cast presented Mr. Robinson with a silver plaque on which was inscribed:  “Happy Birthday ‘Bill’ Robinson from the cast of the Hot Mikado Co. Broadhurst Theatre, May 28, 1939.” A silver stage crew, the onlv one of its kind in America, was another gift from the cast to its leading star.”

And here is an article from the Brooklyn Eagle, specifically about Eddie:

“Eddie Green, who has been funny all the time but has not quite seemed to get his teeth into anything, is singing “Titwillow” to Katisha and his “Titwillow” turns out to be completely delightful.  The song has, no doubt, been sung many times by better voices, but it could hardly be done more amusingly.  With it Mr. Green makes himself one of the jewels of the Hot Mikado.

In 1940, Eddie went on to appear on the Tommie Riggs radio program:

TONIGHT’S BEST RADIO BETS 7:50— “Blondie,” …Tommy Rlggs and Betty Lou. David Ross, Freddie Rich Orchestra. Eddie Green WEAF. 8:30— ..Brooklyn NY Eagle1940.

Eddie also found time to appear with Miss Hazel Scott on the dramatic mystery program The Bishop and The GargoyleimagesEHU5HJ1M

The show was about a former Bishop and an excon who teamed up to solve crimes.  It’s very gritty, I listened to about five minutes of one of the shows and here is a sample of the kinds of lines in the script: “Aw listen, man, don’t try to make a chest outta that stomach.”  So funny.

On the show, Eddie and Hazel did a skit titled “The Item of the Voodoo Doll”.  Miss Scott was a jazz and concert pianist, normally, who, according to the papers, put her own interpretation into Bach and Beethoven.  The reviews of her acting ability were good, and of course, Eddie was funny.

200px-Hazel_Scott_in_Rhapsody_in_Blue_trailer

Hazel Dorothy Scott, born in 1920 became a star in her own right and while she was at it, she married Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who became the first person from New York of African-American descent to be elected to Congress, representing Harlem, New York, from 1945 to 1971. 200px-Adam_Clayon_Powell_Jr

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was also pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and as such Rev. Powell christened me.  How’s that for a good ending?

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

.

A REAL LAUGH RIOT

61FklgttwBL._SY450_ (2)

Otay.  Comes Midnight is the third picture my father made.  It is a story about two men (played by Eddie and Jimmie Baskette) who will receive $100 if they stay in Old Man Mose’s deserted house overnight in order to dig up his body and get the gold that has been placed under his body, and return it to the rightful owner.

It’s got really corny jokes in it such as:  1st person:  You know, old man Mose had a million dollars in gold ore.  2nd person:  Gold or what?

Supposedly, Eddie filmed this movie in a real haunted house in New Jersey.  The older residents of the neighborhood said they had heard weird groans and had seen a pale face pressed against the window.  One of the original cast members bowed out because he was too afraid to enter the house.

The movie had a great cast, though.

imagesK6TQ86AOJimmie Baskette, who you might remember as “Uncle Remus” or the man who sang “Zip A Dee Doo Da”.

imagesC02DE8VNAnd Amanda Randolph.  She was the first African-American performer to star in a regularly scheduled network television show, appearing in DuMont’s The Laytons.  Miss Randolph also   starred in “Beulah” in 1953.   She also appeared in 71 episodes of “Make Room for Daddy” with Danny Thomas. (Anybody out there remember at least one of these shows?)  I found the following information on the net, and it kind of upsets me:  Amanda Randolph appeared in a few Oscar Micheaux films.  The reason I get upset is also one of the reasons I am writing a book about my father.  Eddie made movies with the current  stars of his day, the same stars who appeared in Micheaux films and films produced by Whites, yet as far as the media goes, it is as though Eddie and his work with these actors has simply dropped through the floor.  I am a champion for my father.

The movie was a short, only twenty-one minutes, but it was a “real laugh-riot.”

Eddie, “Harlem’s favorite Hollywood comedian”  was quoted as saying this about his movie making skills:

“The first thing I try for,” he said, “is naturalness.  I write my own stories, building them around some incident that has been interesting, but not offensive.  Then I select the actors that I think are best suited to the parts, so that they need only be themselves.”

untitled (17)The movie had its first showing at the Brooklyn Apollo Theater at 1531 Fulton Avenue. The theater closed in 1965.

On Tuesday afternoon of July 30, 1940, if anyone was looking for a good short movie, according to the Television column, of The New York Sun, you could catch “Comes Midnight” at 3:55 p.m. that afternoon, right after the 3:48 p.m. film “Tour of the World’s Fair.”

Just before Eddie started making “Comes Midnight”, he went to Hollywood from New York to audition for the part of “Pork” in Gone With the Wind. He did not get the part, but, hey, nothing beats a failure but a try, right?

The update on my first try at writing a book is that I now have a 48,061 word manuscript, including title sheet, TOC, dedication, introduction, appendices and bibliography.  I’m done, basically, I know I am.  I am sending it piecemeal to my brother, who is helping me with editing, and, of course I am proofing also.  I will be looking for a “real” editor any day now.

I am still having fun.  And I thank you effusively for stopping by and hanging in.

CAMERAS, LIGHTS……..

 

untitled (14)

 

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
in harlem
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:

courtesy live auctioneers
courtesy live auctioneers

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hodgepodge of Family and Historical Information

 

 

EDDIE GREEN OPENS
HARLEM RESTAURANT  August 7, 1937

Eddie Green, star of the radio.
stage and screen, has entered another
field with the opening of his
swanky and cozy Bar-Bee-Q shop on
Seventh avenue near 126th street In
the heart of the section frequented
by sportsmen, actors and artists of all
kinds. In the short space that it has
been opened, this food emporium has
become a rendezvous for celebrities of
the theatrical world.

The above is a quote from the New York Age newspaper, August 7, 1937.

Pop_ch3b_2_200
Paul Whiteman

In the Brooklyn Eagle, 1939 it says:  Eddie “Is one of Harlem’s busiest citizens.  Outside of theater and radio work, owns and operates two barbeque emporiums.  Serves nothing but spareribs.  Says Paul Whiteman is his best customer at the one on 7th Avenue.

 

Eddie came from East Baltimore’s alley house area where he was born in 1891, and worked himself up to owning two restaurants in Harlem.

I watched the funeral for B. B. King today and the Rev. Herron Wilson, said, in his eulogy, talking about life and death and conduct,  “It’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re headed.”  So far, Eddie is headed in a good direction.

Eddie, at this time, was married to a lady by the name of Constance from Newark, New Jersey, happily married according to the newspaper.  He hadn’t met my mother, yet.

I decided to insert her into this post since they would meet soon, and because mom was pursuing her own career in the entertainment field at about this same time.

Found this particular article today, just by chance, so I thought I could put it here as a bit of background on my mom’s home life.  In 1933, when my mom was ten years old, she found out that the man who she thought was her father, was not.  In those days, everybody’s business got in the papers, I guess just like today.  This is what happened with my mom’s mother, Sinclaire and her husband, Alfonso Murdock:

WHITE MAN NAMED CORRESPONDENT
IN SENSATIONAL DIVORCE SUIT
Californian Accused Wife of Remaining Away From
Home On Pretext of Caring For Sick Friends

LOS ANGELES, CaL, June 8.—(ANP)—Declaring that
his wife had remained away from home weeks at a time residing
in San Bernardino, Cal., Alfonso Murdock, pioneer
and widely known in social circles, was granted a divorce
Wednesday by Judge Harry F. Sewell, from Sinclaire White
Murdock.

Mr. Murdook testified that his
wife would come home only to get
fresh clothes and return to San
Bernardino. He said that he
thought at first that his wife was
caring for a sick friend and did
not learn different until he went
there and made the discovery that
his wife was attending different
places in company with Joe Amato,
white.

This was the prelude to me learning who my mother’s biological father was.  In fact, my mother was not 100% certain before she died and I have only verified who Amato was within the last few years.  That he was indeed white, an Italian gentleman that her mother had been seeing on the side for years and that he was my mother’s father.    Sinclaire eventually took the name Amato for herself and my mom.   At ten years of age my mother wasn’t quite sure what had transpired, except that Murdock was gone and never wanted to see them again and Joe became a permanent fixture.  And she had to change her last name from Murdock to Amato.

Sinclaire, my grandmother, was a “pillar” of the church.  She taught violin and piano.  She taught my mother.  Here is an article from the Los Angeles California Eagle:

Music loving Southlanders
crowded to capacity the auditorium of the Zion Hill Church
when Professor William T. Wilkins.
director of the well-known
Wilkin’s Piano Academy presented his show.
With the appearance of Professor Wilkins on
the stage there came a deafening
round of applause … he was
ably assisted by Mme. Sinclair White Amato, violin virtuoso,
whose several violin pupils were
also a part of the splendid programme . . . too many numbers
to mention each one in detail; but
many received an unusual
amount of applause. I refer to the violin playing of little Norma
Anne Amato . . . .
In 1937 Eddie was in the news in New York, and mom was beginning to be mentioned in the news in Los Angeles.  Mom was 14.  Eddie was 46.  They would not meet for another three years.

My mom was also in pursuit of a career on the stage as an opera singer and as she got older she began to sing and play the piano at weddings at a place called the Wilfandel Club in the Historic West Adams District, while in serious operatic study.

And here we have an extra bit of Black History-because of course I had to look up the Wilfandel Club and I found that the architect was Mr. Paul R. Williams. PAUL_R._WILLIAMSC_A.I.A._-_NOTED_ARCHITECT_-_NARA_-_53569_Straightened

Paul Revere Williams,  (February 18, 1894 – January 23, 1980) was an American architect based in Los Angeles, California. He practiced largely in Southern California, and designed the homes of numerous celebrities, including Lon Chaney, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Frank Sinatra. He also designed many public and private buildings, such as The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration and the Los Angeles County Courthouse and the First African Methodist Episcopalian (FAME) church in Los Angeles.  Who knew?  Mom did, she mentioned to me a few times how unfortunate it was that Paul Williams did not get the recognition he deserved for his works.

l
Wilfandlel Club on Adams Blvd.

 

The thing about this research I am doing is that I can in almost every instance link Eddie up with all the folks I mention.  And I found an article that does just that in this instance also:

At the 68th Anniversary celebration of  the Los Angeles California Eagle , on April 3, 1947, Paul R. Williams was the main speaker and Eddie Green, of “Duffy’s Tavern”, was the emcee for a sparkling floor show featuring Mabel Fairbanks, ice-skating star, the Basin Street Boys, and Phil Moore, singer and composer.

In 2010 when my mom died, she lived on Adams and St. Andrews Place, within walking distance from the Winfandel Club’s building, which still stands.

Thank you so much for dropping by.