THERE ARE BIG DEALS IN LIFE

Hi there.  In recounting my father’s (Eddie Green) life in the entertainment business on this blog, I have also been writing a biography of my father.  Eddie died in 1950 and I am now in the year 1949 when he began to experience his medical problems.  So, I am almost finished with my first draft, minus add-ons and proofreading.  I have deliberately let this blog lag behind the book so no one will get the whole story before the book comes out.  I have to leave something for which folks will clamor.  Or, not.

Eddie Green-Getty Image
My father, Eddie Green

I have shared in my “Hookups” post about a radio show that Eddie  was on in 1935, “Uncle Charlies Tent Show” starring Charles Winninger, and about Eddie being on the Rudy Vallee show, and about Eddie appearing in and writing comedy sketches for “Hot Chocolates” in 1929, with the music of Fats Waller and Andy Razaf, and Louis Armstrong.  And today I would like to share a bit of my father with you, as he appeared on the first public broadcast demonstration of television.  Woo Hoo!

First, however, I am going to post some information about Mr. George Wiltshire.  George Wiltshire was my father’s “straight man” in an act Eddie had going in 1936.  I needed to do some background searching on George before writing about him, so yesterday I looked him up and while doing so I became aware of the fact that there are a lot of people who have had successful careers in show business of whom we no longer hear.

george wiltshire
GEORGE WILTSHIRE

What a handsome man.  George Wiltshire was born in 1900.  I read that he was an actor, known for Killer Diller (1948), Midnight Menace (1946) and Hi-De-Ho (1947), that he first appeared in the 1930 Broadway revue play “Hot Rhythm” at the Times Square Theatre, that he made his first film appearance in the 1938 all-black film “Keep Punching” and, more recently, that he had  appeared in a couple of episodes of “Sanford and Son” in 1976, as Elroy Pitt, a sidekick of Hutch (Arnold Johnson), and a friend of “Fred” (Redd Foxx).   Imagine that, one person who was alive in 1976, besides my mom and my Godfather, who knew Eddie.   I found an article that spotlighted George  in 1939 as having been one of the leading straight men and as the  only “straight man” still carrying on.  George  died in 1976 in California.   What I found in only one place was this:

EDDIE GREEN AMD GEORGE WILTSHIRE
ON TELEVISION TRYOUT BROADCAST
NEW YORK CITY, July —Eddie Green., popular stage, radio and screen comedian, and George Wiltshire, well-known “straight-man,” are the two men of color chosen to lend their bit to the first test television broadcast by the Radio Corporation of America.  The program was specially broadcast to a select group of listeners and watchers.  The program, announced by Milton Cross, also featured Ed Wynn, Graham MacNamarra, Henry Hull and the Pickens Sisters.

July 7 – At David Sarnoff’s request for an experiment of RCA’s electronic television technology, NBC’s first attempt at actual programming is a 30-minute variety show featuring speeches, dance ensembles, monologues, vocal numbers, and film clips. It is shown to 225 of RCA’s licensees on 22 centimeter screens.

The film can actually be found online as “First Television Broadcast NBC/RCA July 7, 1936 Part 2 of 2.”  Eddie and George’s act is at the very beginning of Part 2.  Trust me, I was a bit shocked at first at the way they looked, but there they were in 1936, on television, because these two men were who the people wanted to see.  As far as I have been able to ascertain, Eddie Green and George Wiltshire were the first two black men to appear on television.  Be aware, the film may begin in the middle on my site, so you might have to run it back to the very beginning which is where you will hear Milton Cross make the introduction, Eddie and George are the first act to appear, then the Rockettes, etc.  If you would like to see an explanation of this broadcast with David Sarnoff go to “First Television Broadcast NBC/RCA July 7, 1936 Part 1 of 2.”

I did not type the whole act, but simply as clarification, I have typed in a portion of Eddie’s “Grandfather Joke”, the last joke of the skit, because the sound portion of the film is not very good.   This was one of Eddie’s stock in trade jokes that his audiences got a kick out of.  This particular joke was about how fast his grandfather can cook a meal in his restaurant (I typed a mini version):

(Eddie) “75 people were coming from L. A. to New York and they only had 10 minutes for lunch.  (George)  There were 75 people and they only had 10 minutes for lunch?  (Eddie)  That’s right.  (George) I bet it scared him (grandpa) to death.  (Eddie) It didn’t even scare the waiter.  Grandpa was back in the kitchen smokin’ a pipe.  The waiter just walked over to the kitchen door and yelled “HAM AND EGGS FOR SEVENTY-FIVE”.  (George) And what did grandpa say?  (Eddie) TAKE ‘EM AWAY BEFORE I BURN THEM!

Ha ha, so funny.  I didn’t even get the joke for about two weeks, probably because I was so busy focusing on the white lips.  I got over it, though.  I love seeing my father on stage, especially since I was only three years old when Eddie died.  I have come to realize that Eddie put in the work necessary to get where he eventually got.   I actually found the script for the joke in the library last month.  I did not put the film up on the internet, but I thank those who did.  I thank Mr. Wiltshire’s people, if there are any left out there, for the chance to bring him a bit of recognition.  And I certainly thank those of you who have stopped by and are hanging in here with me.

 

historyomestolife

Pittsburgh Courier July 16, 1936

New York Age, November 18, 1938

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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.

.

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.
*

 

 

 

Let The Good Times Roll

GothamCity
Gotham City-1920s

Hi there.  I have become addicted to finding images for my posts.  The thing is, once I start looking at the different pictures, I absolutely must look at just a few more, and then I want to know more about these pictures and before I know it, I have lost track of time.  Which means I start my posts later than planned.  The above photo is New York circa 1925.  My father, Eddie Green, was producing a play and performing at the Lafayette and other venues in New York, as opposed to being on the road in 1924 and 1925, so he brought his mother to live here.

In 1924 Eddie was working the Burlesque Circuit, first as the star of “Plantation Days”, which was a musical review.  According to A Century of Musicals in Black and White by Bernard L Peterson, (1993), Greenwood Press,  “The original “Plantation Days” toured from New York City in 1922, playing such eastern and Midwestern cities as Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, and Chicago; staged by Leonard Harper.  Starring the dancing team of Harper & Blanks (Leonard Harper and his wife, Osceola Blanks), comedian Eddie Green, James P Johnson and The Plantation Days Syncopated Orchestra.”  After which they returned to New York.  Eddie went on to work with Barney Gerard in “All In Fun” with the Columbia Circuit where he was listed as: EDDIE GREEN-Late Star of Plantation Days.”

In September of 1924, Eddie found himself working, once again, with Leonard Harper, who had staged “Plantation Days.”  Mr Harper was a well-known producer, stager, choreographer and studio owner.

lips that touch liquor

Eddie was hired to produce the “Stepping High Creole Review” for Leonard Harper in September of 1924. at what was then the Hollywood Cabaret at 203 West 49th Street, in New York.  The Hollywood Cabaret was a nightclub that was very popular at the time, the band that was featured was referred to by Hollywood ads as either, “Washingtonian’s Hollywood Jazz Orchestra” or “Washington’s Hollywood Jazz Orchestra”, of which Duke Ellington was a member.  The Cabaret also served liquor. And since Prohibition was in effect, they also had liquor raids, here is an excerpt from court documents:

The search warrant which was issued recited as follows:
“Whereas, it appears from the affidavit of Frank Rickey, that certain intoxicating liquor containing more than ½ of 1 per cent. of alcohol by volume and fit for use for beverage purposes is unlawfully held and possessed in a certain cabaret known as Hollywood Cabaret, located in the basement of the building at 203 West Forty-Ninth street, borough of Manhattan, city and Southern District of New York, and in any closet, vault, safe, cellar, subcellar, kitchen, ice box, room or rooms connected with or used in connection with said restaurant.

I also found this little blurb:  “Wild Throng Dances Madly in Cellar Club, says the Morning Telegraph Hotels Restaurants and Cabarets column in the July 13 edition of the Morning Telegraph”.  Liquor can do this.

audience-dancing

As my mom would say, “This must be the place.”

Unfortunately, according to a New York newspaper article:

“The Hollywood engagement was ended by a fire at 5 o’clock the next morning. The fire ‘wrecked’ the club and damaged stores in the building. Water from the firefighters’ hoses poured into the subway; the Daily Star reported 2 feet of water delayed the Long Island city bound B.M.T. trains a short while, other papers reported there was no delay. Ellington, too, recalled a fire around Christmastime.”

I keep thinking Eddie must have had a Blast living his life.  I am getting a picture of a man who did not focus on what could not be done.  Eddie suited up and showed up.  That is how a person keeps moving forward.

Is there someone who inspires you to move forward?  Think about it.

Thanks for stopping by.