Eddie’s Thoughts On The Matter

Greetings! In 2014 I started this blog to write about my first book writing journey. The book was a biography of my father, Eddie Green. He died when I was 3 so I had to wander through libraries and museums and old newspaper archives because he was an Entertainer and mom, 30 years his junior, had not told me much about his history. I discovered much. I kept finding new stuff. I researched the book for over ten years. In 2010 when mom died, I put my whole self into the research. I wrote the book. It published in 2016. I won an award. Five years later I am still finding out new things about my father.

These past five years I have been interviewed on radio programs about the book my father, I’ve been interviewed about myself and my writing journey and about my father, on podcasts and I have had articles written about me and my book. I never even considered this might happen. I am now working on a 2nd and 3rd book. Because of the book about my father.

About a week ago an interviewer asked me a question I had not anticipated. Today I realized the answer was readily available in the book. I also realized that interest in Eddie’s life story will continue, even as I go on to other stories, so I had better continue to keep a focus on that which got me to where I am today. (Which reminds me: I need to add a “buy” button like I have on my FB book page.)

The interviewer’s question was, what I thought Eddie might say about Black progress in the Entertainment or filmmaking business today. We were discussing movies but I immediately thought of an article in which Eddie was talking about Blacks getting into television: Eddie Green’s Firm Aids Show Business Through Television: “The fast growing field of television offers a fertile one for Negro performers.” “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.” Eddie 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.” This was in 1947.

Eddie was very much aware of the difficulty of Black people getting into the various forms of entertainment. Eddie was quoted as saying, also in 1947, “Radio for Negroes is a very hard field to get into…very hard! But the returns are so great that it’s worth the try.”

Eddie died 3 years later. He had been contacting television producers to sell them ideas for commercials. I did not have to think too hard on what Eddie might think about the progress Blacks have made today. If Eddie could appear in 2021 I think he would be displeased with the progress in the Entertainment field. If only because of the fact that he, a Black man born in 1891 into absolute poverty was able to rise to the top of his profession through his determination, his talent and his hard work.

Today Eddie is an old time radio Icon. At the time of his death he owned his 3rd movie studio and was making TV spots. Using his own money. His movies used Black actors only. He directed, starred in, produced and wrote his own movies. Yes, he was broke when he died. I’m sure he used the money he made on his radio program, and the movies he appeared in to stay afloat. But Eddie was all about staying relevant in the industry. Especially as a Black man. I think he envisioned other “Negroes” (back in those days “Negroes” was who we were, and proud about it) pushing for their chance to get ahead in this new “television” thing and in all the entertainment avenues.

It has not been easy. People like say, Lena Horne, could have had a starring role in a motion picture, if she had not been Black. She was happier as a singer, per articles I’ve read. And she refused to take roles as a maid or a prostitute (Desert News, 2010). She was proud of the color of her skin.

In 1952 Josephine Baker was feeling positive: “I have a very good feeling about Hollywood, I think it is growing up. I think the time is coming when the movie industry will be making
movies with more colored actors. Think of the audiences of colored people through out the world 500 or 600 million, I think the studios would more than make up for whatever loss they might suffer in the South. and I think the day is coming when the South will go for such pictures, too.” Salamanca New York Republican, J Baker

Today I read in Wikipedia that:

Tyler Perry Studios is one of the largest film studios in the nation and established Tyler Perry as the first African-American to outright own a major film studio.

It says he prefers to write his work himself. That’s what my father did.

I believe Eddie would write an article today, if my some miracle he came back, like the one he wrote to the Negro Hour radio show in 1938: In regard to their theme song: “Find a brilliant work of some of our great Negro composers. There are many. Or you might even pick a suitable stanza from the pen of our poets (Dunbar and others), set it to music. Brilliant, forceful music.” Further along he tells them “And now in closing, USE THE NEGRO NEWSPAPERS to tell the people that you have a program.”

I think Eddie’s thoughts then could very well be his thoughts today in championing progress for Blacks in Entertainment. In other words, have a positive belief in your ability to succeed, the will to push through, even though obstacles block you time and again and watch what happens.

Those new to this site or you longtimers – My book can still be purchased through Amazon: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer.

My Experience of Continuous Positivity

Well, here we are all quarantined together. A good time to take a look back into the past. The first picture on this post is a copy of a financial document from my father to Joe Seiden from about 1939. Eddie had his first movie studio in Palisades, New Jersey as did Seiden (Seiden Cinemas). Seiden edited Eddie’s films and helped with sound and the making of prints. Eddie made his first four films here from 1939-1941. What is now Fort Lee, New Jersey was, at one time, the “movie capital” before there was “Hollywood”. Fox, Universal, Biograph studios all began here. Oscar Micheaux was at Metropolitan Studios at this site. The last movie Eddie made here was “One Round Jones”, a movie about a nightclub owner who comes up with the idea to pay $50 to anyone who can go “one round” with his mystery fighter, who of course turns out to be Eddie.

When I wrote the biography about my father I discovered one thing. The more I searched for information, the more I found. This has carried over until today. When I first received this press sheet I was overjoyed. I had to have permission to use it in the marketing of my book which was fine with me. What I didn’t realize was that this sheet held a font of information that would eventually hook me up with more information four year after publication of the book. My first example is in the lower portion of the 4th column of this article a Mr. Lorenzo Tucker is mentioned as part of the cast. I did not expand on this in the book, mainly because I had no idea exactly who he was and how he would pop up in future. About a month ago I heard from an Eddie Green fan who had some original photos of my father that he wanted to gift to me. One of the photos is of Eddie and Louis Jordan and a woman name June Richmond. Louis and June had starred in the 1947 movie Reet, Petite and Gone. I decided to research this movie and learned that¬† Lorenzo Tucker appeared in this movie as the shyster lawyer, Henry Talbot.

Reet, Petite and Gone is about an Old-time musical star Schyler Jarvis, now wealthy, who is dying; his last act is a visionary plan for the future happiness of his son, swing bandleader Louis Jarvis, and Honey Carter, daughter of his long-lost love. But crooked lawyer Talbot has a nefarious scheme to get his hands on the Jarvis money. There is also plenty of swing from Louis Jordan’s Bands. Lorenzo Tucker also appeared in 18 of Oscar Micheaux’s films. He eventually went totally off the movie track and became an autopsy technician for the New York City medical examiner, where he worked on the body of Malcolm X. That original photo that is being gifted to me shines more light. Lorenzo seems to have started out with my father’s movie studio.

Then I noticed that Mr. J. Louis Johnson was also in the 1947 movie Reet, Petite and Gone. He played Senator Morton’s Butler. Well, J. Louis Johnson was a cast member in my father’s Sepia Art Pictures Company, Inc. in 1939. I did mention him in the book but I just did not see the connection. Mr. Johnson was in a lot of great movies. Mostly bit parts, but hey, he must have been a good actor because he worked with such stars as Clark Gable in Homecoming (1948), Lena Horne and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson in Cabin In The Sky (19400, and he had parts in Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train and Orson Welles The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). But he was with Eddie before these others.

One last thing I discovered so far from researching Reet, Petite and Gone from 1947 is that the cinematographer used in the movie is the same cinematographer Eddie used in One Round Jones in 1939, Don Malkames.¬† I even have a quote from Eddie about Don: The cameraman he uses most of the time is “Don Malkames, a veteran when it comes to cameras”. Eddie noted that “an important attribute in the making of any motion picture is an experienced cameraman, particularly in photographing Black actors as there is a wide variety of skin colors and tints to be found in the colored race.” Eddie was working early on with some of the best in their fields. He knew talent when he saw it.

Because I began the process and wrote the book more and more information is being found and revealed to me four years later from people who have had an interest in Eddie Green before I wrote the book and who are now able to share their interest with me because of the book. This has been an expanding learning event for me. The book, this blog, the people I have met have been a continual source of positivity, and I really only started this writing thing to pass on some information to my grandson. I have found that I love bringing to light people who have contributed to this world in a positive manner but who have been overshadowed. Blacks, yes, because that is where my roots are along with my Italian roots. So when I say “people” I mean anyone, really. I just like to acknowledge people who deserve acknowledgement, in my opinion.

I want to thank all of my followers here at WordPress for hanging in here with me. My next book, tentatively titled The Jeffersons – A Fresh Look Back is just waiting for me to complete a couple of interviews, fill in a few more kudos to the crew and I’ll be afraid to, no, I mean I’ll be ready to show it to my publisher.

Thanks, for stopping by.

And thank you, Dan H. for keeping me continually proud of my father.

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