I Stopped the Process

For those new to my blog and to refresh the memory of long time followers, I am posting a few pictures of Eddie’s entertainment life over the years. Eddie Green was my father. He died in 1950. Born in 1891. Over the years Eddie rose from poverty to prominence due to hard work, determination, talent and love for his fellow man. Eddie learned what was necessary to progress in his chosen field, starting out as a “Boy Magician”. He had a knack for comedy and he used his comedic talent to propel him along his way. And he was successful. He pulled himself up from poverty using his talents. From Vaudeville to Burlesque, to Broadway. From early radio and television to becoming the head of his own movie production studio, producing, directing, writing and starring in his own all-black cast films. From appearing in radio productions for the troops during WWII to becoming a major character on one of America’s best loved radio programs “Duffy’s Tavern“, while opening his third movie and television production studio.

While touring as a “Boy Magician” over the years Eddie added songwriting to his list of accomplishments. He wrote “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which he used in 1919 when he took his own show on tour. The show included singing, dancing girls and comedy. While in St. Louis with this show he saw an ad in the local Variety paper for a comic. Eddie sent an outstanding reply and was invited to become a part of a vaudeville show in New York. His performances here and in Burlesque working at the 125th Apollo, earned him inclusion into a hit Broadway musical Hot Chocolates by 1929.

 

 

In 1929, not only was he a part of the ensemble of Hot Chocolates, Eddie wrote all of the comedic skits for this show. His name is listed twice. The show ran for 219 performances. Two of the songs would go on to be recorded, one “Big Business” was recorded by Victor Records, and “Sending A Wire”. Sending A Wire would also be made into a Vitaphone short by Warner Bros.

 

 

 

Eventually, Eddie began appearing on the radio. Rudy Vallee introduced him to the radio audience, inviting him over and over due to audience reaction, and during the summer of 1937 Eddie was asked to join Louis Armstrong as co-hosts of the Fleischmann’s Yeast hour while Rudy was on vacation. Eddie had also appeared for a number of weeks as the featured attraction on the Sunday evening NBC “Echoes of New York” program. During the 30’s Eddie also had a “first”. He appeared as one of the very first two Black men on an RCA/NBC television broadcast-but I’m saving this for another post.

Eddie went on to become a filmmaker in 1939 making four movies Dress Rehearsal, What Goes Up, Comes Midnight and One Round Jones among other endeavors. In 1941 he joined the cast of Duffy’s Tavern where he became famous as one of America’s most beloved comedians.

When I started this blog Eddie had almost been completely forgotten. Almost. Despite his many accomplishments in the entertainment world and the business world, despite the many friends he made and how widely he became known, beside myself, there were not a lot of people remembering that old comic, Eddie Green. I have written a biography about my father. (Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer, get it on Amazon). Since I wrote the book I have had someone tell me that I stopped the process of my father being erased from history. Wow.

I mainly started the project to show my young (at the time) grandson what a person could do regardless of the obstacles life throws at us. But as I researched my father’s life I realized that his story, so full of inspirational stories, could help so many people. That his story as a Black man born in 1891 could prove to be motivational to Black people for sure, but also to anyone who feels that the odds are against them. Maybe you have someone in your family you could write about. Or you just have some inspirational stories you think might be of help  to others if they only knew about them.  You too can stop the process of someone being erased from history.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Book: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

 

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We Are Family-Connected

My family is connected with an important part of history. In the book I have written about my father I included a chapter on my mother, Norma. I don’t write about her often, except on Mother’s Day and when the date of her death comes around or the date of her birthday, which is on November 17th. This is Norma about 4 years before she married my father. But the history I want to write about started with my maternal grandmother.

 

My mother’s mother was born in 1896, her name was Sinclaire White. In 1912 Sinclaire got a mention in The Crisis magazine for her skills as a violinist. The second photo here is the cover of that 1912 issue.  The lady on the front is not Sinclaire. I only ever saw one picture of my maternal grandmother and I do not remember her as she died when I was a year old. My siblings never knew her or even saw a picture. Nor was she ever talked about as we grew up. As a violinist she was magnificent. Later in life she taught violin. Inside this magazine in the MUSIC AND ART section is this article about my grandmother:

” Miss Sinclair White of Chicago, Ill., who graduated June 18 from the Chicago Musical College, took part in the commencement program, playing the first and second movements of Sitt’s concertina in A minor. Miss White, who is a violinist, was the winner of the diamond medal awarded in the “teachers’ certificate class.” Accompanied by her mother she leaves shortly for Russia, where she is to have the advantage of five years’ study.”

At the time The Crisis was a very influential magazine. Published by W. E. B. DuBois who was also a co-founder of the NAACP. William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor. Due to current racial issues he and the NAACP have been in the news more often, lately. I love his picture. It’s possible Sinclaire knew DuBois.

By the 1930s Sinclaire was living in Pasadena with her husband and my mother. She was now Sinclaire White Murdock and she was the head of the Sinclaire White Murdock Music Arts Association. The meetings would proceed with musical selections and a reading of stories such as, “The Immortal Story of Enoch Ardin,”, by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson. Sometimes, the meetings were held in the Second Baptist Church; other times meetings were held at the Sojourner Truth Home in Los Angeles.

Sojourner Truth (1797 – November 26, 1883) was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York. We didn’t talk much about Sojourner Truth when I was growing up, but they obviously recognized her in Pasadena back in the day and Sinclaire had the good sense to hold her meetings in a building named after a woman who would become  a force in 2017. As of today Truth’s statue will stand on the Empire State Trail in Ulster County.

My family history is very much Black history. Though for some reason Sinclaire listed herself as Spanish in my mother’s school records.

My family history is also Italian as Sinclaire also married Guiseppe Amato (or Joe) and had my mom, Norma. Joe’s parents emigrated from Italy to New York in the early 1900s.  Joe became a barber and gave my brother’s their first haircuts. It’s more difficult to find Italian records but that is on my to do list.

I love my family. And I love connecting with you, too.

Thanks, for stopping by. And, KCB.

https://www.facebook.com/EddieGreenBook/

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

 

 

 

 

 

A BIT OF REHASH AND SOMETHING NEW

Eddie Green-Getty Image  Hello there, today I am going to do a short re-cap of this gentleman’s (my father, Eddie Green) story so far, for those who have just tuned in, or may have forgotten my previous posts, or maybe it’s just for myself while I wrap my head around the fact that I must get back into posting mode, from book writing mode.

This month, if Eddie had still been alive he would be 124 years old on August 16th.   Even though I am way past grown, I still sometimes wish Eddie hadn’t died in 1950.  I mean, people do live a long time.  I know there was a French lady who lived until she was 124, and  Jiroemon Kimura became the oldest man in history on December 28, 2012, at the age of 115.  So, Eddie could have lived until 2015, if Life’s plan had been my plan.

Eddie was born in 1891 in East Baltimore in a poor neighborhood.  He left home when he was nine, became a “Boy Magician” to support himself, and by the age of eighteen, in 1909 he married his first wife.

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By 1917, Eddie was living at 1405 Ten Pin Alley and was working at the Standard Theater as a magician, with a little bit of comedy thrown in, and he was also performing handy man chores.

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Standard Theater

That June, Eddie signed up with the draft board for WWI, I don’t know where he may have been stationed or if he stayed at home because by now he and his wife had a child, my step-sister.

005150793_04693 (2)This is a tiny picture of a 2-page draft card,, but notice that a corner has been torn off, which is how the Government kept track of the Black men that were signed up.  The document says:

Name:Edward Green

City:Baltimore

State:Maryland

Birthplace:Maryland,United States of America

Birth Date:16 Aug 1891

Race:African (Black)

Draft Board: 05

By the year 1921, Eddie had dropped his magic act and had gone into comedy on the Vaudeville and Burlesque stage.

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By 1929 Eddie appears in the play “Hot Chocolates” along with Louis Armstrong, and “Fats” Waller, and Eddie also wrote the comedy sketches for “Hot Chocolates”, as listed on this album cover which you can see if you have really good eyesight.

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1939, we find Eddie, as “KoKo”, singing “Tit Willow” in the Mike Todd adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Mikado”, “The Hot Mikado.”

On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang “Willow, titwillow, titwillow”
And I said to him, “Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing ‘Willow, titwillow, titwillow'”
“Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?” I cried
“Or a rather tough worm in your little inside”
With a shake of his poor little head, he replied
“Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”

hotmikado13

Eddie is “KoKo”, the little guy with the tall white hat.  He was the Lord High Executioner.  Isn’t he cute?

And now we are at the place I left off with my last post (does that make sense?).

By now, late 1939, Eddie is on his third wife, they are living on 138th Street in New York, and at the beginning of 1940, Eddie wrote, directed, produced and starred in his third film “Comes Midnight”, which, per some reviews, was his best film yet.

61FklgttwBL._SY450_ (2)There are some funny stories about the making of this movie, which I will go into in my next post.

I cannot emphasize enough how much pleasure I am getting from researching my father’s life for a book and for this blog.  I encourage you to consider delving into the history of someone in your family, because what I have found is that I am learning so much more about the people who came before me, who worked hard day and night to foster progress in this country and in this world.   And, I continue to be blown away by new people who come into my life via this blog and who provide me with additional information.   Just people who share the same interests.  My father’s hobby was ham radio.  He would talk to people all over the world and I am beginning to be able to understand his enjoyment of simply connecting with people.

Ok, gotta go.  Thank you, for stopping by.