YES, you can.

yesyoucan2Inspire someone today. I chose to write a book “Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer” to inspire my grandson. He was six when I came up with the idea, he is twenty-six today and the book just published in July of this year.

My very first post talked about the words “I can’t” because I heard that from my grandson a lot when he was little. Just so happens my father, who died when I was three, found success through talent and determination to escape the poverty he was born into. I figured his story would show my grandson that “you can” despite seeming obstacles.

Eddie’s rise from poverty played out mostly in the world of entertainment, with offshoots into the restaurant business. And the book became not only a book to inspire my grandson but a book about the entertainment business in the 1900s. Because Eddie was Black the book is also filled with information about other Blacks prominent in show business back in the day. It became sort of a Black Entertainment history book. So it became a book  about a Black man in America, as well as an inspirational book. People have told me the book should be required reading for young people in schools. So could also be seen as educational. My main group has proven to be people who follow entertainment nostalgia. Old time Hollywood, Old Time Radio shows, old all-black cast movies. A wide variety of folks, young and not so young.

yesyoucanMy desire to inspire my grandson with his great-grandfather’s story morphed into wanting to inspire any person who thinks “they can’t .” So I was blown away with the interest generated by this book in the Nostalgia field. I have discovered that a lot of people knew about, remembered and have actually seen my father perform. I have been made aware of the fact that there are young people  who are fascinated with success stories from the 1900s, for the very reason I wrote the book, inspiration. Also, I have happily realized the interest this book can garner in the Black community as a success story of a Black man, both personally and professionally, in a time of great racial discord.

I am going to put more energy also into sharing Eddie’s rags-to-riches story with as many people as possible, such as The young adult (YA) age group, or teen-group.  Because they are the future. They need to have access to stories that will give them hope. I hope to make this book available to younger children although it doesn’t have any colorful pictures. I also want to market to Black Ancestry sites because genealogy is a big deal today.

Sure, I want to sell a million books. My father’s first song sold a million copies in one year in 1919 (A Good Man is Hard to Find), and people are still recording it, imagine that! But this book began out of love for my grandson and grew into something I could share with people everywhere which makes me happy. And if I make lots of money I will be able to say that I am self-supporting through my own contributions.

In the late 1930s my father told a reporter that in his opinion “radio was a very, very difficult field for Negroes to get into, but the benefits were worth the try.” If he could see how effort has worked toward America having it’s first black President, I know he would be very proud.

Thanks, for stopping by.

 

 

A REAL LAUGH RIOT

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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.

HANGING OUT AT THE WORLD’S FAIR

Hotmikado

Hello.  In the on-going saga of my research into my father’s life, as far as the book is concerned, I have completed my first draft.  So emotional…..I had to come to the end.  I cried for three days after I finished.  Going so thoroughly into Eddie’s life was almost like being there.  Of course, I still need to edit, add-on, delete, clean up the manuscript.  And I need to add the TOC and a Bibliography, etc.  But it is really happening!

In this blog, after showing you Eddie’s television debut in my last post, and after having already mentioned that Eddie opened a restaurant in Harlem in 1937, I am now at 1939.

“The  Hot Mikado” was a 1939 musical theatre adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”, with an African-American cast. Mike Todd originally produced it after the Federal Theatre Project turned down his offer to manage the WPA production of “The Swing Mikado” (another all-black adaptation of “The Mikado”).  In this production, Eddie played, Koko, the High Executioner (formerly a tailor).

Eddie Green
Eddie Green

The musical was first produced at the Broadhurst Theatre from March 23, 1939 to June 3, 1939, running for 85 performances. The original cast included Bill “Bojangles” Robinson as The Mikado; Frances Brock as Pitti-Sing; Rosa Brown as Katisha; Maurice Ellis as Pooh-Bah; Eddie Green as Ko-Ko; Rosetta LeNoire as Peep-Bo; James A. Lilliard as Pish-Tush; Bob Parrish as Nanki-Poo; Gwendolyn Reyde as Yum-Yum; Freddie Robinson as Messenger Boy; and Vincent Shields as Red Cap.

The musical was then produced at the 1939–1940 New York World’s Fair for two seasons and was reportedly one of the most popular attractions at the fair.

The video below, which I found on-line and which is extremely rare, is a silent filming of portions of the performance at the World’s Fair.  Eddie enters first as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, and then you see him standing next to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the “Mikado”.  Eddie appears in a few more places in the film.  As Ko-ko, Eddie performed a number of songs, including “Titwillow”, though this was not caught in the film.

“Titwillow”  occurs in a scene with the love interest, Katisha.  “Katisha wonders why death refuses to come and bring peace to her broken heart (she sings “Alone and Yet Alive),  and Ko-Ko springs into action, telling her that he’ll die on the spot if she doesn’t accept his love. Katisha claims no one has ever died of a broken heart, so Ko-Ko responds with the tragic tale of TitWillow, a little bird who wasted away due to blighted affection.”

My mom, Norma, told me about Eddie singing this song in a play, but never did I think I would actually see a portion of this play with my own eyes.  Picturing Eddie singing “Titwillow”, is not easy to do, but according to the Brooklyn Eagle on July 9, 1939:  “Anyway, he gets a hilarious twist into Ko-Ko that Messrs. G. and S. never thought of, and when he swings “Titwillow” usually comes close to stopping the show.”

Eddie was living in Harlem, by now with wife number three, or four, and he already had a grown daughter.  He had met my mother, through friends in Hollywood as he travelled a lot by then from New York, to L. A., but his home at the time was 138th Street in New York.  After the “Hot Mikado” Eddie would begin making his own films.

I love sharing this information.  It may be too old-timey for a younger generation, but keeping the achievements of those who came before us alive, allows the younger generation a chance to see from whence they have come and, also, to see how far they can go, especially with the knowledge, technology, and, yes, opportunities available today.

Hey, comments are welcome, keep comin’ back, and thanks, for stopping by.

 

 

Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

FROM NEW YORK TO HOLLYWOOD

1939 Downtown District-Manhattan-Courtesy Google Images
1939 Downtown District-Manhattan-Courtesy Google Images

I am deep into writing my book about my father, Eddie Green, and his life as a star of Stage, Screen and Radio, and how he has become literally wiped from most people’s memory, I believe, because he died in 1950, and when he died his works were put aside by those who knew him, and life moved on.  Now, for me as an adult with a grandson, I am trying to document Eddie’s time on this earth because Eddie contributed much to society, despite the poverty of his family, and the segregation of his time.  As I began to discover, through my research, what my father had accomplished, I was rather upset that even though Eddie worked with some of the greats of the 30s and 40s, he is not remembered as they are remembered.  So I am trying to change that with my book.

Unfortunately, I wind up putting my posting aside.  I know there is no one I need to apologize to for not posting more often, but I also know had I not started this blog, I may not have started actually writing my book.  The research began some years ago, and, for someone who may be contemplating book-writing, research is on-going.

Over the past month I have discovered a Paramount Contract Eddie had in 1945, I have read scripts from some of his movies (I will get to those later), and I have found about fifteen original photos from the sets of Eddie’s movies.  It’s fascinating and absolutely unexpected.

But before I get to that part of Eddie’s life, I will share with you what I found today.  I have been searching the World Wide Web for just the right thing to share and lo and behold, I came across the best picture.

Eddie lived in New York for a large part of his career.  He lived in Manhattan and worked in Harlem.  He was called “The Harlem Funster”.  In 1937 Rudy Vallee had a Radio Program on NBC-Blue Network and when Mr. Vallee went on his summer vacation, he convinced his sponsor, Fleischman’s Yeast, to hire Louie Armstrong to host the show for the summer.  In 1937, at Vallée’s insistence, Louis Armstrong hosted the show during Vallée’s summer vacation. This made Armstrong the first African American to host a national network program.  Guess who shared billing with Mr. Armstrong as one of the shows comedians.

According to BALLSTON SPA DAILY JOURNAL, BALLSTON SPA, NEW YORK, FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 1937:

A new variety show, an all-negro revue, makes its debut on* WJZ-NBC revue, at 9 p.m.  Based on the hot rhythm of Harlem as dispensed by Louis Armstrong’s orchestra, together with his trumpet, it will present Eddie Green and Gee Gee James, comedy team, and guest artists.  The script is being put together by Octavus Roy Cohen.

Below is the picture I mentioned, celebrating this huge event.

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Left to right are Luis Rusell, Eddie Green, Gee,-Gee James aid Louie Armstrong, •/ho on Friday night, over station WJZ, under the sponsorship of the Flelschman Yeast Company, made show world history.—Photo by Continental News.
Left to right are Luis Rusell, Eddie Green, Gee,-Gee James and Louie Armstrong,
•/ho on Friday night, over station WJZ, under the sponsorship of the Flelschman
Yeast Company, made show world history.—Photo by Continental News.

RECEIVE CONGRATULATIONS FROM COAST-TO-COAST
APRIL 17, 1937
T h e Pitttburgh Courier

The first time I have ever seen this picture.  It’s too bad Mr. Armstrong is difficult to see, but it’s an old picture and I have a cheap printer.  Anyhow, there they are.  Making history.  But who remembers Eddie Green?  Well, I guess I do and I am sharing him with the world of today, not just because Eddie became  “somebody”, despite the obstacles, but because there are still people who believe they cannot achieve their goals because of seeming obstacles.

Of course, we have to put in the work, acquire as much knowledge as we can about our pursuits, and if we have a talent, put it out there.  I read that my father said that talent is respected in his business, and you have to keep at it because all the work and practice and time you put in pays off in the end.

Speaking of work.  Right after the ending of the Fleischman Yeast’s Summer Program, Eddie was off to Hollywood where he appeared on “Showboat” a radio program which I talked about on my previous post.   But before he left New York, Eddie had another bit of  business to attend to, per the Pittsburgh Courier  “Eddie Green, the radio comic, has gone Into the restaurant bis. He’s now the proud owner of a Bar-Bee-Q eatery off 139th” street on Seventh avenue. .”

Busy, the man was busy.

Thanks for stopping by.
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