In My (humble?) Opinion

Set Design in 1902 by Mario Sala

The other day I was browsing my facebook friend’s comments and I saw a comment regarding a Black Male Opera Singer. I had not heard of this person before and said so in my reply. My friend sent a message back: “You’ve never heard of George Shirley? Where have you been?” Well, I thought, for the past __-odd years I’ve been right here on planet earth. But I had not heard of Mr. Shirley. He probably had not heard of me, either. Although my mother had been an aspiring opera singer before she married my father back in 1945. So, from the beginning of my life I was immersed in the world of opera through my mom. I saw my first opera at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles-Hansel and Gretel. I still have the memory of my mother practicing Ave Maria on our piano. I was assaulted every day by mom’s opera records that she played loudly while she cleaned. But she either played Marian Anderson or Madama Butterfly or some other female, I don’t remember hearing male opera stars in our house.

As a child it never dawned on me to question the race of the stars I heard. I didn’t really take note of that until I became an adult. Probably not until I saw my first “Porgy and Bess” where I fell totally in love with Porgy, he was handsome, well-shaped, and that voice! Before seeing this guy, I knew of the four tenors, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Mario Lanza, and Lucianno Pavoratti. I knew of Rossano Brazzi, who began early as a child in an operatta, and who I heard in “South Pacific”. I still get chills watching him sing to the woman in the movie. I knew of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald (I love her voice) from watching them in movies on television. Of course, I heard my mother sing. I found out much later that she had been a favorite back in the day through an article in The California Eagle newspaper that said: Tip to Talent Scouts: Keep your ears on Norma Amato’s delightful thrushing. She has the kind of voice you hear only in a dream.

As I got older I began to realize the presence of Black female opera stars such as Kathleen Battle and Leontyne Price. They began to have a forward presence in my brain. But I just had not taken a lot of notice or even cared about seeing more Black male opera stars. I blame this on my parents. Well, on my mom and my step-father, and my aunt Dot. They didn’t play male opera singers on their record players. They played Big Joe Turner or Joe Williams, Black jazz singers, or Nat King Cole. My aunt Dot was a Dinah Washington fanatic and LOVED Billy Eckstein! Their album covers were always prominent (my relatives did a lot of partying). But I never saw one Black male opera star album in our house. I saw Black boxers on TV ’cause my step-father loved boxing. Plus we never discussed race in our family. Definitely not as it pertained to progress.

Except when it came to sports. Baseball, Boxing, Football, Boxing, Boxing. Basketball. Mom and my step-dad even had a bookie joint going on in one of our houses. Then I was out on my own and the seventies came around and the party was on in my life. Black male opera singers were the furthest thing from my mind. Give me some James Brown, Teddy Pendergrass, Lionel Ritchie, 50 cent, Johnny Mathis, Run DMC, babee. Now, today, I have gained some new knowledge. I’ve been introduced to the singing of Black male opera singer George Shirley.

Mr. Shirley has a beautiful voice. His voice reminds me of what it is I like about the opera. The voices touch my soul, and my heart. They transport me into a different realm. They bring me peace and love. I think my mother should have introduced me to more opera sung by Black men. I think Black parents should tell their kids about Black male opera singers, not just Black sports figures. We have so many talented Black men in this field. They deserve a bit of adoration, too. And a lot more mention, in my opinion.

The male lead in the opera – Pelleas is played by George Shirley the American tenor. Pictured back-stage having her wig combed by wig manufacturer, Albert Sargood, is Elisabeth Soderstrom. November 1969 Z11397 (Photo by Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

In 1961, George Shirley won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions thus becoming the first African American tenor to be awarded a contract with the Met as a leading artist, the beginning of an eleven-year association. Over the span of his career, George has had a vested interest in helping African American students reach their full potential. In 1962 Leontyne Price and George Shirley two Negro-American
singers will be featured as stars of two operas that are already sold out.

In 2015, through my research During the writing of my father’s biography I did learn of another Black tenor who was my father’s friend, Mr. Chauncey Northern. Here is a quote from a newspaper article from 1928: Mr. Northern who successfully interpreted the title role of the opera “Othello,” In Naples, Italy, recently, and his four brothers, comprising the Northern’ Brothers Quartet, will be heard in the New York Edison Hour tonight at 8 o’clock on WRNY. The program will Include solos by Chauncey Northern and quartet numbers, spirituals and characteristic negro melodies-which are recognised as true folk music of this country.

Mr. Northern would later work with my father in Eddie’s Sepia-Art Pictures Studio in the 1940s: Chauncey Northern, well-known tenor who is also a recognized voice specialist and coach, has joined the Sepia-Art Motion Pictures Company as head of its music department. In this capacity, Mr. Northern will have charge of the arranging of voices for the choir which will be a permanent feature with this organization. Sepia-Art Pictures expects great things to be accomplished by these young singers under the careful and
comprehensive direction of Mr. Northern. His studios, located in Carnegie Hall, are the mecca of many of the great artists of today.

So, I’ve been exactly where I was supposed to be especially here and now so that I could be the recipient of some wonderful news about a Black male opera singer who has a gorgeous voice that I get to listen to on social media. Thank you for your glorious musical contribution Mr. Shirley.

Thanks, for stopping by, stay tuned for more from me. ūüôā



My question is “didn’t Black people ever watch old time radio?” I have begun to realize the magnitude of commercialism and how it played into Blacks being ignored in this world in the early 1900s. While researching African-Americans and their relationship to Old Time Radio I did a Google search for “Old Time Radios”. The search engine game me dozens of images of families sitting around the radio listening to a program. Some actually were looking at the radio as if it was a television. However, none of these families were Black. I am trying to wrap my head around the idea that despite all the African-Americans in America at the time, there was little representation in the radio industry. According to J. Fred MacDonald “the industry in its so-called Golden Age offered only limited opportunities for black men and women to develop.” Even though there was a huge need for personnel.

Of course, there were Blacks working in radio as janitors, or electrical assistants and even an announcer or two. They had to come in the “other” door, though. And there were Blacks performing on the radio, such as my father, Eddie Green, who became Rudy Vallee’s protege’ or Eddie “Rochester” Anderson from the Jack Benny program. My father was evidently so funny that Rudy Vallee would feature Eddie over and over. Then there were shows that were hugely popular with everybody (maybe not the NAACP), such as, Amos n Andy. People everywhere literally stopped what they were doing to listen to this program. Eddie was the lawyer, Stonewall in this program. There must have been some Blacks sitting in front of their radios, or if they did not have one a person could stand in front of their local storefront and listen to the broadcasts. Yes, I am beginning to really see how segregation kept Black people “out of the picture”, except in some rare instances. I mean we were THERE.

Today, If you look up Old Time Radio (OTR), not the Beyonce’ concert, you will get a lot of information about all the White radio suspense, cowboy, comedy and horror shows.

Old Time Radio shows produced by Blacks got a toehold in maybe the late 30s. The one I have researched so far, though got its start on June 27, 1948. Mr. Richard Durham began a radio program titled “Destination Freedom”. Now….. if you look up OTR shows online you will get a lot of sites that post lists of shows and you will get sites that let you listen to lots of shows. Until two days ago I hadn’t found one site that had a list of a Black OTR program.

Two days ago I found one that has a list and lets you download shows of Mr. Durham’s Destination Freedom.¬† Old Time Radio Downloads. They have won my heart. They actually have clippings of each episode of “Destination Freedom” for my listening pleasure. I love them. Maybe some day this show will appear in the internet search engines under OTR, Old Time Radio, that is.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

Emmett “Babe” Wallace NOT Vern Smith

I made a Major Boo-Boo on this my last post.¬† First of all Mr. Vern Smith, an announcer for Jubilee Radio Program was not a Black man. Second, the announcer on this particular video is not Vern Smith as I claimed-he is Emmett “Babe” Wallace. As you read on you will see that I refer to the announcer at the beginning of this video as Mr. Vern Smith. WRONG!

A friend of mine on Facebook, named Bill, sent me the link to this Jubilee Radio Program from 1944 because I sent him a picture of Ernie Whitman, Lena Horne and my father Eddie Green. He could not find a copy of a video with my father so he sent this one with Eddie “Rochester” Anderson (who was actually a good friend of our family). And he introduced me to the announcer at the beginning of this video as Mr. Vern Smith. WRONG!!

The announcer at the beginning of this video was in fact Emmett “Babe” Wallace. According to Jimy Bleu an IMDB biographer, “as an actor, Babe is among the early pioneers of Black Cinema, starring in numerous films alongside some of the finest names in the industry. His career took flight, when in 1943 he co-starred in the 20th Century Fox classic Stormy Weather with Lena Horne and Bill Robinson. He went on to perform in stage musicals such as Anna Lucasta¬† in London during 1947,¬† Les Folies Bergere¬† in Paris during 1952 (appearing as the first Black male star), and Guys and Dolls on Broadway during 1976, with Robert Guillaume and James Randolph. In 1989, he was presented the prestigious Paul Robeson Award by the Black American Cinema Society, along with Marla Gibbs.

Babe is a prolific songwriter, poet and novelist, who has some of his works included in the Schomburg Research Center for Black Culture. Of his thousands of songs, some have been recorded by Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald and Cab Calloway. In 1999, Burger King franchise featured one of his songs “A Chicken Ain’t Nothin But A Bird” in their TV/radio ad campaign.”

Babe Wallace died in 2006.

I did find a Vernon Smith who announced the Ozzie and Harriet radio and television show, who also announced some of the Jubilee Radio Programs.

I claim to believe in finding something out about people I write about, however, in this instance I did not. I wrote about something of which I had no knowledge. I apologize for this and I will make sure to properly research next time.

AFRS Jubilee Radio Program was a show that was an all-Black broadcast of music and comedy skits sent to the Black American forces serving in WWII.¬† Here’s a visual record of the opening of Jubilee.….You’ll see and hear (first) Vern Smith (NO you won’t, you’ll hear Emmett “Babe” Wallace) then Ernie Whitman………and two other familiar folks. I hope you like “Rochester”‘s singing!! Thanx for stopping by ūüôā

Surrounded By Flowers


So this is my father, in a photo at a studio, surrounded by beautiful women. I have recently purchased a copy of the original photo, minus all the text. I even know now who took the picture way back in 1940. I didn’t know, until about a year ago, that these photos still existed. That they had been donated to a library here in California. The fact that at least one of the ladies is still with us, (Millicent, in the black dress), was a wonderful piece of knowledge I have also recently received. New knowledge and acquisitions have necessitated a few minor revisions to my book, but it’s all good. ¬†Looking at this particular picture reminds me of what my mom, Norma, once told me-that Eddie enjoyed being around pretty women. ¬†Like being surrounded by flowers.

Something I have discovered in the last five years about my father, is that Eddie enjoyed getting married, too. I learned that Norma, my mom, was his fourth wife.  I always knew Eddie had been married once before mom, and that I had a half sister from that earlier union, but the fact that Eddie had two more wives was news to me.  I only found out through my census searches.

Eddie married for the first time in 1909, to a lady born about the same time he was born, and in 1910 he and his wife had a daughter. ¬†By 1930, Eddie’s first wife and their daughter were living in Philadelphia, and Eddie was married to his second wife, a twenty-nine year old nightclub dancer, and living in Manhattan. This second marriage only lasted two years. ¬†By 1932, Eddie married wife number three, a twenty-two year old Trenton, New Jersey lady. ¬†They lived in Harlem on 138th Street. This marriage was the first marriage Eddie discussed in a newspaper interview saying his wife would stay home and listen to his radio broadcasts and then tell him how he sounded. Eddie said that sometimes with him “his voice gets too high.” This third marriage lasted through 1940 or so while Eddie was in his first movie making venture.

By 1944, Eddie moved to Los Angeles, alone. ¬†One of Eddie’s friends was Louise Beavers (an actress who appeared in the movie Imitation of Life). Eddie boarded with Louise in her house in the “Sugar Hill” district of Los Angeles, until he found and bought his own house, announcing that “he was just waiting for the right lovely to come along.” ¬†Enter wife number four, my mom, Norma, twenty-two years old. ¬†Mom was Eddie’s last wife, as he died in 1950. ¬†Mom was young and beautiful, and she had a lot of young and beautiful girlfriends who were always hanging around the house, because, she said, their house was the place to be. ¬†Eddie was a lucky man, a gentleman and a Star.

Thank you, for stopping by.




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Hi, there.¬† Well, I would like to wish you a Happy Halloween, although the guy in the above photo would probably not agree with me as¬†he doesn’t think Halloween should be a fun holiday like everyone else does.¬† But since it’s the season, I chose Oogie Boogie to lead off this post.¬† (Thank you, Mr. Burton.)¬† I also chose Oogie¬†because of his last name,¬†Boogie.

My father, Eddie Green, was doing well in radio entertainment career in the 40s.¬† According to the Syracuse New York Journal¬†¬† One of the radio programs Eddie appeared on was the Canada Lee show on WEAF, ” Eight to the Bar.”¬† In the 1940s, the phrase “eight to the bar” was up-tempo slang meaning “a boogie beat.”

New York Post, Thursday, July 24, 1941,¬†HIGH SPOTS OF THE DAY’S BROADCAST OFFERINGS

WEAF- Benny Goodman’s Orchestra. Joan Bennett.
8:15 WOR‚ÄĒDrama. Florence Reed in “An Englishman’s Home.”
8:30 WEAF‚ÄĒDrama. Canada Lee, Eddie Green in “Eight to the
WABC‚ÄĒBarber Shop Quartet Society.

There was a boogie-woogie dance:599fc67ba64af1846452c75a83984b41

In 1945, a person could buy  a Two-piano Boogie Woogie album for Dancing for $2.50.

When I found the “Eight to the Bar” Canada Lee program in the Syracuse newspaper, I remembered that I have in my possession a DVD of a Jubilee radio program from 1943 with Mr. Lee and my father doing a comedy skit together.¬† Being a good researcher, I looked up Mr. Lee, and I am so glad I did.¬† Canada Lee is another of those famous, successful, Black pioneers, like Eddie,¬†who seems to have been forgotten by the general public.

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Canada Lee was born Lionel Cornelius Canegata in 1907.¬† At one time he was a jockey, and then became a boxer, welterweight division, until he sustained an eye injury.¬† Before he had his radio show, Mr. Lee began an acting career.¬†He was cast in his first major role, that of Banquo, in the legendary Federal Theatre Project¬†(a New Deal program started to help struggling writers, actors, directors, and theater workers) production of Macbeth (1936), adapted and directed by Orson Welles, with an all-black cast.¬† Macbeth was sold out for ten weeks at the Lafayette Theatre.¬† Mr. Lee played Banquo (When Macbeth kills the king and takes the throne, Banquo‚ÄĒthe only one aware of this encounter with the witches‚ÄĒreserves judgment for God.)¬† Having never read Macbeth, I had to read it to understand what the heck I was writing about in this post.¬† Anyhow, The play debuted in 1936 at Harlem‚Äôs Lafayette Theater and was performed for segregated audiences. It was so popular that it exceeded its initial run, then toured the country, spending two weeks in Dallas at the Texas Centennial Exposition.

Canada Lee appeared on Broadway in Anna Lucasta.  He also appeared in the movie Lifeboat in 1944, directed by Alfred Hitchcock:


There is much more information out there to be found on Canada Lee, if you care to look it up.

Below is the comedy skit I referred to earlier.¬† Canada Lee and Eddie performed¬† in 1943,¬†on Jubilee, a radio program that was broadcast to the nations military to help ease the stress of war.¬† The skit was titled “Boxing”, from January 5, 1943:¬† I have heard this skit and Mr. Lee has a nice, strong voice, where my father’s voice was a tad higher which Eddie said himself in a newspaper article.¬†Hattie McDaniel acted as Mistress of Ceremony:
MISS McDANIEL: The clock says it’s laughing time. And when it’s time to laugh, then it’s time to listen to Eddie Green  and Canada Lee!
CANADA LEE: Remember some time ago, Eddie, I told you that I think you would make a good prize fighter?
EDDIE, laughing: .Yea, I member that, I do.
CANADA LEE: Well now, listen Eddie. Just like I told you. You’ve got the makings of a great fighter. I’m gonna build you up to be a champion.
EDDIE: No, is you?
CANADA LEE: Yea, I can see the whole thing.
EDDIE: You can.
CANADA LEE: Yea, First, I’ma have you fight some ham and eggers.
EDDIE:  some what?
CANADA LEE: Some ham and eggers.
EDDIE: Oh, right away I get scrambled.
CANADA LEE: No, no. I mean these fights are free, see. We pay these fighters to lay down.
EDDIE: Well, why can’t they pay me to lay down?
CANADA LEE: Oh Eddie, don’t be silly, you’re honest. When it comes to fighting you’re upright.
EDDIE: Yea, but not for long.

I started this blogging project as a way to get noticed by publishers, as a writer, which would help me when I was ready to publish the first book that I have written about my father for my grandson, because the general consensus is publishers want to see something other than just one book.  The blog is also a way for me to get over a fear of putting my writing out into the world.  What I did not expect was the education I would get from this process, through research.  Nor did I expect to have ideas about the possibility of continuing to write after this first book.  But I do.  Have ideas.  But first, I must finish proofing my first endeavor.

I like to finish my posts with something that refers back to the beginning:

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Thanks, for stopping by.

Thank you Francis Lee



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‚Äď1940 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.









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 Vall√©e’s insistence, Louis Armstrong hosted the show during Vall√©e’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.


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

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.





blackface 179Introducing Eddie Green and Dancers in “Connie’s Hot Chocolates”, in its fourth month at the Hudson Theater in New York, 1929.

When I was young, about ten years old, my mom told me that my father said that he had never performed in blackface. ¬†The way she said it, sounded to me like she was saying, he would not stoop so low. ¬†But, maybe, he told her he would never perform in blackface again,¬†as he had already been there and done that, because clearly Eddie did perform in blackface as the above picture shows. ¬†I found this picture while searching the net and I was shocked. ¬†Like Mr. Fallon says, I was like “Eww!” ¬†Which is where my mindset was about this type of performing. ¬†Whether it stems from societal influences or parental influences, I realized, at that time, that I was embarrassed for Eddie. ¬†And, I did not know how I was going to be able to present this to the public.

Hm.  Obviously, I had a problem.  One minute I am so proud of my father and the next I want to hide a portion of his life.  I had to take a good look into my thought processes.  I had to educate myself about the business of performing in blackface.  So I started reading.

I learned that way back in the 1700s actors were performing in blackface-supposedly as an exaggerated, humorous imitation of blacks as they were perceived in those times.  I learned that minstrelsy became wildly popular as time went on, with troupes performing in circuses in the US and the UK, and that a circus was not considered complete without at least one minstrelsy act.  I learned that at one time blacks were not allowed to perform in blackface on stage with whites.  It was exclusively a white thing.  I learned that though whites performing in blackface was basically about making a black person seem ridiculous, it also assured that a black person had no opportunity of performing on stage and, maybe, becoming famous.  This, as I now know was to change.

I learned that George M. Cohan, young author and actor, who became famous, appeared in blackface in 1891.¬†he played ¬†in his father’s production of “The Molly Maguires”; and he was co-proprietor and part producer of Cohan and Harris’ Minstrels, the first performance of which was at the Apollo Theatre, Atlantic City, N. J., July 27, 1908.*

I learned the  by the 19th century, blacks were allowed to appear on stage with whites only if they wore blackface. They painted their lips white and their costumes were usually gaudy combinations of formal wear; swallowtail coats, striped trousers, and top hats.  I learned that Bert Williams popped up, and of course, became famous.   Mr. Williams was the most popular blackface comedians of his day,and, was also the highest-paid in 1912, working for Ziegfeld Follies after signing a 3-year contract for $62,400 or $1.5 million today.  ( Strausbaugh 2006, p. 136)  I learned that It was through blackface minstrelsy that African American performers first entered the mainstream of American show business.*

I went back to some of the articles I have found in which Eddie’s performances were reviewed. ¬†In an article of Stage and Screen it says: ¬†“Eddie Green, late star of “Plantation Days, as he was billed on the program, was also exceptionally good. ¬†His was a blackface number, dancing and singing and his droll manner won fave. ¬†His talking song “Previous” was enjoyed. ¬†He also did some clever dancing.” ¬†The Utica Herald says “Eddie Green scores a hit with his softshoe dancing.” ¬†A blurb in¬†The Billboard from 1921 says, ¬†Eddie “Simp” (his nickname to those who knew and loved him) Green, the acrobatic dancer is singing his own songs with “The Girls De Looks” Burlesque Show. ¬†Eddie is a good business man and has his own publishing business. . . . He is contracted with the show for the next two years.”

Today, my personal perception of Eddie’s life as a performer has changed drastically. ¬†My father was not degrading himself by doing blackface, he was presenting himself as the actor that he was in the makeup expected for the roles he played. ¬†He had a plan. ¬†He knew where he was going and what it was going to take to get there. ¬†What to some was disgraceful, provided Eddie with a stepping stone to a better life. ¬†He constantly received kudos. ¬†I discovered new information from these articles, also. ¬†Mom never told me that Eddie was an acrobatic dancer? ¬†A softshoe dancer? ¬†Really. ¬†Eddie was exceptionally good at whatever he put his hand to. ¬†That is the point.

Eddie wrote a letter to¬†The Billboard in 1920 to let his fellow actors know about the most convenient place to get a room, the Hotel Francis, opposite the New York City Depot. ¬†The editor of¬†The Billboard had this to say about that letter: ¬†“The following letter from Eddie (Simp) Green. . . . is beyond doubt the most unselfish communication that has come to us since the department has started, . . . Eddie Green writes something besides letters. ¬†He wrote “A Good Man is Hard To Find”, “Algiers”, and the “Blind Man’s Blues. ¬†He also has written himself into a class of regular fellows with the above letter.”

A class of regular fellows.  A good man.  A man of many talents.  My father, of whom I am proud.

p.s. I forgot to mention, is he surrounded by beautiful women, or what?

*Excerpts from Monarchs of Minstrelsy (1911)
by Edward Le Roy Rice (1871-1940)

Research-Extremely Satisfying

king tut papers

One of the things I did not count on when I decided to research my father’s life, was the amount of paperwork I would have to browse through to verify my writing. ¬†I started out at the central library in downtown Los Angeles. ¬†I had to search the Catalogue of Copyright Entries and I had no idea how to read these catalogues. ¬†But I learned. ¬†Eventually, I learned to peruse these catalogues on-line, but since I only had a cell phone at the time, it was slow going. ¬†I ended up at the local family history library where I was able to print whatever information I found on Eddie Green. ¬†Which brings me to this document regarding the song “King Tut Blues” written by my father.

This is a copy of the catalogue entry for my father’s song, “King Tut Blues”, (listed at the top of the third column) written back in 1923, showing Eddie as the Author of words and music and showing also that he renewed this song in 1950, about six months before he died. ¬†I was able to locate this last piece of information with the help of one of the readers of my blog posts, which just goes to show that we can and do participate in each other’s progress through our posts. ¬†Which is something else I never expected when I was stressing over whether I could even maintain a blog. ¬†Even if my book flops, this experience will totally be worth the time and effort.

Eddie was about 22 when he wrote this song in 1923. ¬†My mother, Eddie’s third wife, was born November 17, 1923. ¬†Her parents at the time lived in Los Angeles, California on Jefferson Street. ¬†They lived very close to the Triple A Automobile Club which was located on Adams Boulevard and Figueroa Street and is still there today. ¬†As a matter of fact, after living all over Los Angeles County, my mom died while living back on Adams Boulevard about 5 minutes from the Automobile Club.


My mom’s mother, Sinclaire White-Murdock was, in 1923, the President of The Music Arts Association,¬†¬†which held regular weekly meetings at the Sojourner Truth Home, in Los Angeles. ¬† Sinclaire was a violinist, so I guess it was bound to happen that when Eddie got to Los Angeles years later, he and Sinclaire would meet through musical venues. ¬†But that wouldn’t happen for another 20 years.

I encourage you, out there, to consider researching someone in your family, it really is extremely satisfying.  Thanks for stopping by.

On The Road of Discovery


Hi there and welcome.

In 2010 I started research on my father, Eddie Green.   I have now begun putting my research in book form.   It has taken a lot longer than I expected because I was not truly aware of all the work Eddie had put into his chosen career. I found a lot of newspapers articles.  The process of putting together this information has been roundabout, which was also unexpected, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey so far.

To give you an idea of how I was able to collect information, in 2014, I discovered a magazine article that had been stored in the back of a bottom drawer in a neighborhood museum, that was written by Eddie in 1949.   The article is about how he got his big break in 1929.  In this article there were about six lines that helped me corroborate ten years of previous information I had acquired.


In the article, Eddie wrote that prior to 1929 he had played Vaudeville, Burlesque and musical comedy and that he had done some writing. ¬†Well, I had a newspaper article from 1920 that I found in 2012, announcing Eddie playing at the Star and Garter Burlesque Theater in Chicago in 1920. ¬†He also played at theaters in Kansas City, Buffalo and Boston. ¬†Eddie was on the “Columbia Circuit” of theater, and was on this circuit for years. ¬† I also have copies of copyrighted material I found this year, documenting songs he wrote in 1920, 1923 and 1924.

In 2013 I found another newspaper article from 1925, that also talks about Eddie’s endeavors in the theater. ¬† It mentions his songwriting, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, which helps me know I am tracking the right Eddie Green, and it mentions a newer song, “Don’t Let No One Man Worry Your Mind”, which I know Eddie wrote, and it mentions his work in Burlesque. ¬†I found a 1927 article about the same time that touted Eddie as a well-known, song writer, electrician, motion picture operator, and famed comedian, and that he had played the Apollo, which he had, how do I know? ¬†Because I the newspaper article that mentions, Eddie Green, writer of “A Good Man…….”, is now working stock at the Apollo. ¬†By now Eddie had also written and copyrighted eight more songs. ¬†I have many other articles that help me to link Eddie’s progress through the years. ¬†Eddie was a busy man in the 1920’s. ¬†In the 1949 magazine article, Eddie wrote that he was so busy during those years, he did not notice his own advancement, nor did he notice the fact that his name appeared very frequently in the various trade papers.

When I started this research, somehow I lucked up and found one specific place I could peruse that had all the information I needed from these early years. ¬†This is how I found out about the various venues Eddie played and how I found out about the songs Eddie wrote, ¬†I also spent hours searching the Copyright Catalogues, because even though the information is in the newspaper, does not make it correct. ¬†The feeling I get from each discovery is marvelous. ¬†It is well worth the bus rides and sifting through paperwork. The process is time-consuming and involved, but I have become talented at backtracking. ¬†Eddie had talent and he put in the effort it took to progress. ¬†It was not an overnight happening. ¬†In Eddie’s own words, “If you’ve got the talent, you can’t miss in the long run, even if it’s mighty long!”