PICTURE THIS ON A BOOK COVER

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EDDIE GREEN

This is the picture I want to use on the cover of the biography I have written about my father.  This is the only picture that I own. Norma, my mother, gave me this picture in 1980, I think, as a birthday present.  It was the only picture she had. Eddie died in 1950 and over the years, the other pictures that she had were lost. Some in a house fire in the 70s. I saw the pictures, when I was a little girl.  There was a picture of Eddie and Frank Sinatra on a stage, there was a picture of me in my bassinet with Eddie and Mom standing over me, and there was a picture of Norma’s mother, Sinclaire, with her hair piled up on top of her head and staring stone faced at the camera.  Sinclaire had on a floor length, white dress with buttons all the way up to her chin. An old photo from the 1920s or 1930s. I was shocked when mom gave me this picture of Eddie. She loved this picture.

In the past almost six years that I have been doing the research on the book, I have discovered other pictures of Eddie. Eddie as a customer in a 1929 Vitaphone fifteen-minute movie, Eddie as Ko-ko, the High Executioner in the Hot Mikado on Broadway in 1939, Eddie as a boxer in his own movie One Round Jones, Eddie with Louis Armstrong preparing for their radio program in 1937, Eddie chatting with George Burns, Eddie on an advertisement for the Community Chest during the war years, Eddie and Mom with Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. at my christening.

None of these pictures belong to me. In order to use them in my book, I need to get permission from the copyright holders and pay a fee based on how many books I hope to sell, unless the pictures are in the public domain. Or a family member objects. It’s been so awesome discovering these pictures that I want to put them all in the book.  I am in the process of scanning the ones I can use, however, so that is a good thing.  The publisher may have a say-so on the book cover, but I think they will like Eddie’s “entrepreneurial, star quality” headshot.

Speaking of the publisher.  I have been in communication with a publisher.  Yes!  Soon I will have the pleasure of discussing the publishing side of this venture.  I haven’t exactly started jumping up and down yet, but I am so glad I started this journey. And I am not finished.  I am in the midst of what has become a serious learning process, that of going over my proofreader’s suggestions.

I think that there are many of us who have family members they would like to write about, be they movie stars or stay at home moms, or Uncle Jim, you know, the one who always makes you laugh.  I know there are people out here who are looking for good, uplifting stories. Share yours.

 

Thank you so much, for stopping by.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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