Forget Amos ‘n’ Andy?

Gosden, Correll, Green, (?), Wade

Welcome! The one thing I have found over the last few years is that writing about and/or researching my father, Eddie Green, always makes me feel good, even if I am feeling low, focusing on Eddie makes me feel better. Writing his biography gave me a chance to “meet” him, since I was so young when he died. And I still love what I have found out about him as a man, a performer, a friend, a good husband to my mom, and a loving father to me. My shining example.

Eddie came from p o v e r t y. He chose to be an entertainer, and because he liked what he did and was good at what he did, he entertained when and where he could. He rolled with the times and he became successful. Circumstances in the early 1900s propelled him into action. And his outgoing, good guy personality made him a pleasure to work with, and helped bring him to fame.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s Eddie was on the Amos n Andy radio program. His role started out as LaGuardia Stonewall Jackson, but after the well-loved ex-Mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia died, the name was shortened to Stonewall Jackson. The radio program featured two White men as Amos n Andy. Freeman Gosden was Amos and Charles Correll was Andy. The fact that Eddie, a Black man, had a role on this program was a big deal. Ernestine Wade, pictured above, was eventually hired to play Sapphire and would go on to have the same role on the TV program. The radio program became awesomely popular. The listening audience was estimated at over 40 million, almost one-third of Americans living at that time. Eddie had also begun “Duffy’s Tavern” and the money was coming in.

 

S. Williams and T. Moore

Not everyone was crazy about the fact that Gosden and Correll chose to use a “Negro dialect”, or that they seemed to appear as “lazy” and “shiftless” Black men. And when the program went to TV in 1951, the NAACP were not happy to see this played out on the screen. Even though the TV program used only Black actors. Spencer Williams played Andy and Tim Moore played George “Kingfish” Stevens. (These men actually took lessons from a White person on how to talk in “Negro dialect”). Due to protests the TV program was cancelled in 1953, putting some good actors out of work, but reruns were shown until 1966.

When asked if I would think about writing an article on “Should we forget Amos n Andy?” I did begin to think about it. This is a precursor.

In doing the research for my second book about The Jeffersons TV sitcom, I ran across a quote from Sherman Hemsley, he said he did not pay attention to racial discrimination and he said that: “I used to like ‘Amos and Andy.’ I loved them. I don’t see anything embarrassing about that show. Some people have to hide from things. I remember when people used to hide from kinky hair and things like that. “Everybody you talk to is a reflection of yourself—you’ve got to learn to see yourself in everybody.”

As for myself as a child I thought the Amos n Andy show was funny. It was always on TV at our house. So was the Mickey Mouse Club (I totally had a Mouseketeer hat), and Boxing and probably Ed Sullivan. I even had a Daniel Boone hat with the long tail. It was all about being entertained. Frankly, I believe that everything we lay eyes on and/or hear will always be in our memory banks. I give props to all of those people who choose to do what they love, bypassing the bad criticism and contributing some good to this life.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by.

I MUST Be a Genius

Thank Goodness for rough drafts. One is SUPPOSED to make mistakes, lose paragraphs, misspell words (though I am a spelling champ). I was so excited, no, not excited, emotional. I was so emotional last week the day I printed out my first rough draft of my second book. Such a big deal! Then I realized I had left out a good 10,000 words. And of course I had to figure out where they needed to be inserted. Then I realized “red” does not print because I only have a Black ink cartridge. Then I ran out of Black ink. And of course I have no money so I have to wait until next week to get more ink. But, 2 weeks before this I was on the phone with my daughter crying about my inability to do justice to a second book.  Anyhow, I wound up with copy paper here, there and everywhere, making insertion notes, and adding in additional pages I was able to print out.

But that’s okay because evidently this is what geniuses do. We are messy. So getting messy with a rough draft is perfect. Thinking of myself as a creative genius will keep me from stressing out. Because I know I am a good writer, otherwise I would have never attempted that first book. I also believe that there are many good writers out there, otherwise how would we fill our libraries. Which is one thing that helped me realize I could write a book. Millions of people have written books. Books, songs, screenplays, scripts for TV sitcoms.

Sitcoms like The Jeffersons. The subject of my newest book. The Jeffersons was a spin-off of All In The Family. George, Louise and Lionel were introduced to the Bunkers during the early 1970s and the sitcom itself aired January 18, 1975. The idea was to annoy Archie Bunker by moving a Black family into the neighborhood. Archie wasn’t too fond of Black people and George wasn’t crazy about Whites and somehow this program was going to use these two characters to provide comedic entertainment for the TV audience. Between Carroll O’Conner and Sherman Hemsley they did just that. I love working on this book, but I do miss writing my first book about my father, Eddie Green. Another well-known and successful comedian who didn’t get the chance to work in television as he died too early.

This is me at a library in Los Angeles giving a presentation of my father’s biography. I believe I was preparing to play a cd of different people recording my father’s first song written in 1917 “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, or maybe I played “You’ve Got The Right Key, But The Wrong Keyhole”. I know we had fun that day. The cool part about this still today is that I continue to receive pictures, articles, and messages from fans of my father. I was only 3 when he died. I basically have no memory of him, maybe a shadowy lap in a dark suit. So I have only gotten to know my father after I have reached adulthood. I will probably never stop sharing about him, no matter how many other stories I write. Would you believe my daughter actually put the video of me at this library on Youtube?! Genius At Work.

Hey, thanx, for stopping by.

Reminder: My first book Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer  Check out the reviews on Amazon or just buy it and read it for yourself, you’ll be glad you did.

ACTORS: Remembering and Appreciating

Hello friends. The fact that I have begun the process of writing a book about The Jeffersons tv sitcom is beginning to make it clear just how diligent I am going to have to be in getting my facts straight. Somehow it seems a lot more involved than corroborating the information I learned about my father when writing his biography. In researching the actors and their participation in their various shows, I have found out that one person will say what they think things were like, some will say what they heard, and some will assume. Getting the actor’s stories in their own words is difficult, especially if those actors are no longer with us.

The three actors pictured, Sherman Hemsley, Isabel Sanford and Mike Evans have all died. Sherman in 2012, Isabel in 2004 and Mike in 2006. Sharing this writing process here on WordPress is so important in helping me with this book-writing learning experience. I am not using this forum to write the book from the beginning but to have some kind of clarity of where I am going.

Today I decided to write about actor Mike Evans who played the character Lionel Jefferson, the son of the Bunker’s new Black neighbors. The Bunkers were the family from “All In The Family” or AITF, with Carroll O’Conner, as Archie and Jean Stapleton, as Edith. Mike Evans began portraying Lionel in this AITF in 1971 through 1975 before moving on up to “The Jeffersons”.

As a child, Mike was “short, and fat, and funny-looking”. His parents divorced when he was a baby. As a young man he used his talent for art by making sculptures out of clothes hangers and selling them to hippies in Hollywood. By 18 he had enrolled in City College and was studying Psychology, then switched to an Acting major. He learned one day that a studio was looking for young, Black actors and so he went to audition and eventually got the part of Lionel. The one downside to this was that his father had died 3 months earlier so Mike was not able to share this with him.

In 1975 AITF produced the spin-off The Jeffersons and Mike continued to play his character. But after one season, Mike left the sitcom. According to The Las Vegas Sun-TV Scene. Sunday, February 20, 1977: He left because he “wasn’t having a good time on the show.” He did, however, return for the sixth through the eighth season. Mike had married in 1976 and his marriage lasted until 2002 when his wife died. Mike would die of throat cancer in 2006.

There is such an upside to writing this type of non-fiction book. The actors, writers, producers that I am able to be in contact with are given a boost just knowing that people are actually interested in them as artists and still remember them. And the relatives of those who have left us are pleased, also. They’ve told me so, and I can hear it in their voices.

I thank you so much for stopping by and for “clicking” on my posts.

🙂