Love is Always Relevant

Hi there. This is me sitting in the “green” room at an NPR station (National Public Radio) waiting to go on the air for an interview with In Black America. I will let you know when it will be aired. My daughter, Melony, is my photographer. So the interview was about my father, Eddie Green and my experiences with researching and writing this book. But I started out with this photo for a specific reason which I will get to further on.

Racism exists. Unfortunate but true. When I started this blog I had no intention of using this space as a place to address racism. The intent was to share what I see as my father’s rags-to-riches story in the absolute presence of racism. To show how Eddie dismissed the obstacles and became a favored comedian, actor, composer and filmmaker in the early 1900s. I hoped to be able to inspire others with his story. Besides, I think our troubles today are more about hate as opposed to all about race.

Given recent events here in America, and given that my father was a Black man I feel a need to I chime in with my two cents on the issue of color. Which for me as a light-skinned Black woman is a bit different in how I have been treated through my life.

In 1917 when Eddie signed up for WWI his Registration Card listed the following:

 

Name Edward Green
Race African
Birth Date 16 Aug 1891
Birth Place Maryland, USA
Street Address 1405 Tenpin alley
Residence Place Baltimore, Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland, USA

If you notice his race is listed as African even though he was born in Baltimore. On the card it is listed on the bottom half of the left side of the card, which is also torn as a way to identify the Blacks from the Whites. Since then he’s been colored, and he’s been a Negro. He died before he could become Black or African-American.

No matter. Eddie went on his merry way and became successful. Successful on stage, with other greats like Jackie “Moms” Mabley, “Pigmeat” Markham, the sixteen Apollo Rockettes and actor Ralph Cooper (whose nickname was “The Dark Gable”).  “Moms” Mabley was still Jackie at that time and James Baskette had yet to become “Uncle Remus”.

 

Then there was Tam O’Shanter. He did a one man show about an Irish poem writen by Robert Burns, a Scottish poet and lyricist. He recited the poem on stage. I would have loved to see that.  This was in 1930. I don’t think Eddie had any problem being African. Or Negro. When he became a filmmaker his letterhead read Of, By and With Negroes. But Eddie was an entertainer and an artist. He wanted to be in show business. As a person. Eddie worked well with everyone according to the articles I found. He was likeable.

 

Eddie found fame through Duffy’s Tavern. Seen here with the crew about 1942 or so, left to right, Charles Cantor,  Eddie, Ed Gardner (Archie) and creator of the show, Florence Halop and Alan Reed. Eddie began with the first radio episode in 1941 and as Eddie, the waiter became a household name. Two tapings a day for east and west coast during the season until 1950.

 

Now, back to me. My mother, Eddie’s fourth wife, was light-skinned. Her father was Italian. I did not grow up with the same color issues as Eddie. My Black friends called me “High-Yellow” when I was a kid and one or two still call me that today. When I was young my friends would laugh at me and say I danced like a White person. Yes, they meant it as an insult. There is so much emphasis on being Black today I have begun to feel left out. There is a lot of talk about “melanin”. Twitter got upset because a light-skinned Black woman was chosen the winner of a Black beauty contest. There is a sense of displeasure there. Where’s the love?

Anywho, don’t be surprised as I begin a slow transition into sharing thoughts and feelings that are important to me today, while I also continue to show my father’s life and times as being relevant and inspirational in today’s world.

With love. Thanx, for stopping by.

Visit me at https://www.facebook.com/elvagreenbookpage/

 

 

 

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Facing Reality

How does one progress through trial and tribulation?

Since the writing of the biography of my father I have been honored by people wanting to interview me. I have found that people are very interested in discovering how “racism” affected Eddie’s progress in his career. My initial reasoning for writing the book was to provide inspiration to those people who think they “can’t” become successful. So I am having to adapt.

However, I believe that Eddie did not waste his energy focusing on racism. Eddie focused on finding what he liked to do and doing it the best he knew how so that he would not have to continue to live the life of poverty into which he was born. It took him a little while to get started but once he did he was on his way.

One hundred years ago my father, Eddie Green, at age 26, was drafted for  World War I.

Because he was a Black man (or African as it says on his registration card) he was asked to tear off the bottom portion of the card. Along with the world, he was introduced to a world at war. And this is when he wrote his first song.

Eddie wrote his first song in 1917. “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Perhaps President Hoover’s volunteer predicament prompted Eddie to do some writing that would become his first and biggest hit song. When America went to war interest  was not high, men were not volunteering. Good men were hard to find. President Hoover decided to inaugurate the draft. The song had nothing to do with war, but the title was relevant, and the song was written as a blues song, the type of music that was becoming popular.

Life in America in 1917 for Black also included lynchings, and jim crow laws. There were deadly riots in 1917. But Eddie and other Blacks like him persevered. Through  the hardship and prejudice of the Jim Crow era, several black entertainers and literary figures gained broad popularity, such as Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, with whom Eddie worked, and Hattie McDaniel, the first Black woman to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, with whom Eddie also worked. They struggled, but they did it. They got work where and how they could. They practiced. They improved their craft.

By 1927 Eddie was appearing at Ciro’s in The Creole Follies(1927) August in Michigan per the Daily Globe, ‘Creole Follies Co.’ At the Ironwood”, as a dancer and singer. He had also begun performing as a comedian. He was funny. He was really funny.

In 1936 you could hear this voice saying: with Milton J. Cross making the following announcement: “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I am very delighted to be allowed to participate in this demonstration on television. For your dedication, we draw on that droll comic, Eddie Green and his partner, George Wiltshire, offering a little philosophical erudition.

By 1937 Eddie was on the radio co-hosting a show with Louis Armstrong: Mr. Bob Hayes of The Chicago Defender, in his column “Here and There,” began his May 22, 1937 column, thus:, “It was like turning back the pages of yesteryear when we were greeted by our life-long pal, Eddie Green, NBC artist now being featured with Louis Armstrong and his Hot Harlem Review.” His craft was propelling him into bigger things.

Standard Brands Inc. (Fleischmann Yeast) through J . Walter Thompson Co. announced the full talent line-up of its all-negro show which will make its debut over 30 NBC-Blue network stations, April 9 at 9-9: 30 p.m. Eddie Green and Gee Gee James, a comedy team, with Louis Armstrong and his orchestra will be the regular talent. Program will also feature negro guest stars. Octavus Roy Cohen, well known writer of negro fiction, will do the script. Radio Daily April 1937.

Also in 1937 Eddie left Harlem with his (3rd) wife, in August of 1937, to join the Show Boat cast in Hollywood, according to the California Eagle newspaper. Hollywood!

In 1947 the California Eagle did a piece on Eddie in their “Trail Blazers” column. The article spoke of Eddie’s twenty-three years in show business, fifteen years of before-the-mike experience, and thirty years of technical radio knowledge. It mentioned his beginnings with “Fats” Waller in the 1920s and his progress to Duffy’s Tavern. It also spoke a little about his days as a “Boy Magician,”, and of how Eddie began to be booked on all types of radio shows. This article also mentioned the fact that Eddie was a 32ndnd degree Mason and that he had spent the last year working actively with the NAACP.

Born in Baltimore in 1891 to extreme poverty he propelled himself, through talent, determination and willingness into a successful career as an entertainer because he wanted a better life for himself. And along the way he was able to provide laughs with his comedy, entertainment with his dancing and acting, and employment through his production companies and movies. When his career ended at the time of his death in 1950 he was a beloved comedian on one of the most popular radio programs of that era. He had no enemies. He was known as a funny man, a good businessman and a regular guy by everyone he met.

Racism may be a reality, but it can be overcome.

Thanks, for stopping by.

Please check out my book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer

http://www.bearmanormedia.com

1st All-Black Cast Movie on TV 1939 & My INDIE Award Nomination 2017

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First all-Black Cast movie on Television 1939
Eddie Green’s All-Colored Flicker Telecast By Nat’l Broadcasting Co (NBC). Well-Known Radio and Stage Comedian Adds Another Television “First” As Dress Rehearsal Shows.
NEW YORK, Dec. 21., 1939—History was made here Saturday afternoon, Dec. 16, when the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) 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 ever Negro motion picture to be broadcast by television but it is to its credit that this picture was written and produced in its entirety by Negroes.  Eddie Green was the first negro performer to appear on television.  This first official broadcast took place July 7, 1936. Mr. Green breaks precedent by starring in the first film of this kind to be sent over the air.    The Pittsburgh Courier Theatrical News section
Hi there. The above article from 1939 mentions Sepia Art Pictures Company which is the movie production company my father owned in what was then known as Palisades, New Jersey. Eddie was among the very few Black people to own his own movie production company. As it says in the article, back then his “flickers” were all-colored or Negro. In order to be up-to-date I used Black in the photo caption. No matter the word used Eddie was a Pioneer of the entertainmet industry. This particular movie opened at the Apollo Theater in New York and was immensely popular.  Hence the NBC television broadcast.
Like Eddie I have my own “First”.  I am now an INDIES Award Nominee for 2017. This deserves it’s own post, so stay tuned for more.
Thanx, for stopping by. KCB
You can find my book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer at http://www.bearmanormadia.com.

Fame, Friendship, and (Some) Fortune

martingramsblogspot

Hi. To those of you new to this blog, welcome. As this blog is meant to chronical my writing of a book about my father, I have to let you know that in the past 3 years I have written and published my book. You can of course read through prior posts to get an idea of the story, or you can start here. The picture I have posted is from the radio program that brought fame to my father Eddie Green.  Taken in the early 1940s  This is a shot from the radio program Duffy’s Tavern. The gentleman on the left is the creator and star of the show Ed Gardner (who is cast as Archie.) The gentleman on the right is my father, Eddie Green, who is cast opposite Ed as Eddie the waiter.

Duffy’s Tavern was one of the most popular radio programs during the years 1941-1950, after which time the program was switched to television. Eddie was a part of this show from the beginning until 1950 when he passed away. In 1941 when he was signed on to this program, Eddie had written a best selling song in 1917, plus twenty-nine more songs, he had performed on Broadway, owned Bar-b-que restaurants, appeared on television in the first ever RCA/NBC variety test broadcast to the public, worked with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Louis Armstrong and had written, directed, produced and starred in four all-Black cast movies. He was on the rode to fame.

In 1943 Eddie was fifty-one years old, and at the beginning of the year he filed for bankruptcy. He owed the government $445.00. Probably had something to do with the fact that Eddie had used his own money to start his Sepia Art Pictures movie company and  some of his actors had stared accepting roles with the White owned studios who could pay much more than Eddie. And I think a business deal went awry (meaning “a friend” absconded with some money.) You could still hear him on the weekly Duffy’s Tavern radio program and on other radio programs, too.

In 1945 the money started rolling in again when Paramount decided to make a movie version of Duffy’s Tavern using the regular radio crew in the movie. The movie was titled Ed Gardner’s Duffy’s Tavern, directed by Hal Walker, starring a number of Paramount stars such as, Bing Crosby, Alan Ladd, Dorothy Lamour, Barry Fitzgerald, Veronica Lake and William Bendix, to name a few. Oh, and also Ed Gardner, as Archie, Eddie Green, as Eddie the waiter, and Charles Cantor as Finnegan. The next few years saw Eddie’s continued rise to becoming a popular, beloved comedian.

By writing the biography of my father my hope was to bring his inspiring story out of the dark and into the light of awareness, as a way to provide propelling motivation to others. Eddie said that he found the best way to achieve success, is to find something you like to do and do it the best you know how.

One other thing, Eddie and Ed Gardner became very good friends over the years. Today a Green and a Gardner are still friends, me and Ed’s son. We’re pen pals!

Thanx, for stopping by. KCB

Photo courtesy of Martingramsblogspot and Ed Gardner, Jr.

 

 

I didn’t think he’d go this far!

mygrandsonegforfacebook

My Grandson, Edward and my father. The idea to write my book came about through my desire to present to my grandson, Edward,  an example of what can be accomplished regardless of obstacles. I didn’t know he was gonna go this far!! The man has no fear. I turned on my computer, clicked on Facebook and here is a picture of Edward at an Alligator Park in Florida. What the!!. I am a grandmother so my first thought is What the!! Edward has lost his mind! My daughter’s reaction was that he is afraid of nothing. Like his great-grandfather.

Edward’s grandfather, Eddie Green despite being born in 1891 in Baltimore during an era of blatant racism to poverty-stricken parents,  rose to become a filmmaker, Broadway and movie star, composer, OTR icon and one of the most beloved comics of his time. Talent, determination and courage propelled Eddie to achieve the life he wanted for himself and those around him.

The idea of writing the biography of my father came to me when Edward was about six years old.  He is twenty-six now. Edward has told me that the story of Eddie is indeed inspiring to him now as an adult because he can identify with some portions of the story.  He also told me the fact that I wrote a book is very inspiring to him now, showing him that if a person sets their mind to do something, they can.

One thing I have noticed is that through the years it took for me to write this book, Edward developed into a person who has chosen to be successful in life. He has had the courage to pursue that which he is excited about. He is a good citizen. His job appreciates him. He cooks for his mother when she visits. He likes cats and treats his lady respectfully.  And he is not afraid to pick up alligators. He really did not need this book to become who he is today. It’s probably in the genes.

Maybe a young person you know would be inspired by this biography Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer. Though it is written also for anyone looking for motivation.

Thanks, for stopping by. KCB

http://www.bearmanmedia.com (publisher)