And Then There’s Maude!

Anything but tranquilizing, Right On, Maude! Hi there, well folks, I have begun writing my third book. I am awe struck that I have come this far as I only wanted to write one little book. I knew I could write one book. Today I am finishing my second book on The Jeffersons and I have started researching a third. I imagine that some of you beautiful people out there remember the 1970s tv sitcom, Maude. Maybe you watched it back then or you have seen reruns. I watched it, I liked Bea Arthur as Maude and Bill Macy as her husband, Walter. The reality of my life in the 70s though was that I was “doing my thing”. Remember “It’s Your Thing, Do What You Wanna Do”? Well I was partying hardy so even though I watched tv I barely remember most of the Maude episodes so I will be watching a lot of videos and I get to interview people who worked with the show.  I do remember the theme song which, I just found out about a month ago, was recorded by the famous Donnie Hathaway!

I know this is too interesting, but I just want to go back a bit to the beginning of my book writing online journey. I think it is amazing and right that the biography that I wrote about my father has a continuous connection to my second and third books. As if I am supposed to be writing these books. I started out by writing about my father who found his fame appearing as Eddie the waiter on the Duffy’s Tavern Radio Program from 1941-1950. They began taping in New York, moved to L. A. and then to Puerto Rico during these years. Duffy’s Tavern was a comedy and each episode (almost every one of them) a different guest appeared and became a part of the shenanigans. Way too many to list here, but a few were Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Billie Burke, Adolph Monjou, Charles Coburn, Boris Karloff, Larry Storch, Peggy Lee, Mickey Rooney, Ed Wynn and on and on. Ed Gardner, Jr. was the Bartender and Charles Cantor was the resident oddball guy who hung out at Duffy’s, by the name of Finnegan.

In 1945 Duffy’s Tavern with made into a movie by Paramount. In the movie they used almost every star on the Paramount lot, plus Ed, Eddie and Charlie. Bing Crosby was in this movie as you can see from this poster. Eddie’s picture is no where on this poster. Maybe he wasn’t famous enough yet. But after being in the entertainment business since about 1901 he was gettin’ there. Anywho, since I have written the book I have received pictures from fans of Eddie. Pictures that are treasures of theirs and now of mine.

 

Sometime in the early 40s this picture was taken. This is an old copy from the internet. I now have an original in hand. This is typed on the back of the picture: Produced by the Armed Forces Radio Service. Program: Jubilee. Bing Crosby and Eddie Green  “All Armed Forces Radio Service programs are stamped on flexible plastic transcription discs. In addition the the land-based broadcasting outlets ships of the United States Navy and Coast Guard in all oceans will receive the transcription of this show, which is not heard in the United States except in Army and Navy hospitals serving returned casualties.” Need I say more?

Going on to my second book. While writing The Jeffersons I discovered that a friend of Eddie’s, Lillian Randolph, had appeared in a Jeffersons episode as Mother Jefferson’s sister. Lillian and Eddie had appeared together on The Great Gildersleeves Radio Program and also on the Amos n Andy Radio Program. Lillian’s real life sister was Amanda Randolph who had stared in Eddie’s third movie Comes Midnight. Lillian is the woman who donated her dee-vorce money in It’s a Wonderful Life.

Back to Maude. I started researching my third book about the Maude tv sitcom about a month ago. I have had the great benefit of being able to call on writers who wrote for Maude and who also wrote  for The Jeffersons. (Mr. Moriarty was one writer who wrote 68 episodes according to Fandom). I’ve posted about this before but Mr. Bob Schiller and Mr. Bob Weiskopf not only wrote for Maude, they also wrote for All In The Family of which The Jeffersons was a spin-off and they wrote for Duffy’s Tavern Radio Show where it is quite possible they knew my father. It is all connected.

I was watching one of the Maude episodes, “The Kiss” when I realized Maude and Walter were so loud! I had found a newspaper article where the complaint about The Jeffersons in 1975 was that they were too loud. Well, this must have been a Norman Lear thing (I read that somewhere) because the characters in Maude talked really loud also. In “The Kiss” Walter tried to BS Maude about why she found him kissing the next door neighbor, Maude’s best friend. I wonder what I get to say about these episodes in my book? You’ll notice I said BS.

There is no set in stone title at this point. I’m wavering. Maybe God’ll get you for that, Walter or Right On Maude! (the 70s babee). I’ve got a year to figure it out. I love what I am doing. I love writing and research. I can get totally involved in it. My experience in this writing journey has far exceeded my imaginings.

I got an itch to do something and I did it and it has blossomed. I suggest to anyone else if you have something you think you can do or you have something you want to say, do it, put it down on paper, the sky’s is the limit but you gotta start the flight. And help will find you along the way.

Hey, thanks, for stopping by 🙂

But Was it Funny?

eddies laugh jamboree - green goodHello out there! What a lucky girl am I. I have started researching a third book. Just writing those words down makes me have to stop and ponder. I’ve never considered writing 3 books. Just the one-about my father- a rags-to-riches biography about the legendary Eddie Green, Old Time Radio icon (Duffy’s Tavern once a week radio show and others), composer, filmmaker, singer, dancer magician, TV star. A Black American who made it big despite the travails of Blacks in the early 1900s.

I never thought I would write a second book about a 70s TV sitcom, The Jeffersons, which I am working on finishing as I begin work on my new book about another 70s TV sitcom, Maude. Remarkable.

The first choice was mine, the next 2 were my publisher’s idea. Imagine that. And, it’s been a blast. I love research. I love reading. I started reading when I was four years old. My father left me a set of classics and a set of encyclopedias. I love words. Also, I have met the nicest people, period.

What these books have in common is that they are about Comedians and comedy. My father was into producing, he owned a string of restaurants, he wrote music, but he was first and foremost a comedian, he made his fame as Eddie the waiter, on the Duffy’s Tavern radio program in the 40s. The TV programs, The Jeffersons and Maude were comedic, while managing to focus on social controversial issues, such as abortion, politics and racism. But they made people laugh.

I was struck by a thought one day (probably because of the civil unrest these days) that most of the writers on each of these shows were White. Even on the almost all Black show The Jeffersons. One of the White writers on the Jeffersons was once asked by a Black person how he, a White man, could write for Black people. Basically his answer was a question: Did you laugh?

duffyscastonstageDuffy’s Tavern was on the air for ten years. It was funny. Especially Eddie the waiter’s lines. Apart from a very few, the weekly guests were White. The cast was White. The announcer was White. Eddie was the only Black cast member on that show. And he was hilarious.

The Jeffersons had very few Black writers. But the show was funny. It ran from 1975-1985.

I thought Maude was funny. Most of the writers were White. And I’m Black.

I think it sucks that Black writers, good Black writers, have to work at getting into script writing. Or that when they do get in, the public does not hear about it. I’ve spoken with a Black writer that wrote for a White TV show (had one Black cast member that I can think of) and that TV show made a mint for everybody thanks to that Black writer. Because people thought it was funny.

Maybe its just about being funny.

7109066004r (2)My father made a movie titled Mr. Adam’s Bomb (1949).  His idea was to show the world how regular every day Black people reacted to the use of the Atom Bomb. It was a horrible episode in our country. Eddie, as an ex vaudevillian and as a comedian chose to include humor and singing and dancing as in this movie as he had in his first four movies.

From the reviews I have read over the past ten years, some Black people don’t get it. They don’t get the dancing. The audience singing. And of course the comedy is way old time. But it was the only way Eddie knew to express himself as an entertainer. A Black comedic filmmaker, who liked using chorus girls in his movies, taking on the aftermath of the Atom Bomb through his people for his people and by his people.  But like I said above, some Black people today don’t get a Black man’s sense of humor from 1949. Eddie always wanted to look at the “up” side of life.

Anywho, maybe it doesn’t matter the color of the comedy writer. Maybe it’s just about being funny. Or silly. Some of the Walter and Maude lines cracked me up. Florence playing a old timey Black maid and shouting “Oh lawd” and throwing her hands up was too funny. Eddie in Duffy’s Tavern laughing out loud because someone called to make a reservation was hilarious.

The bobsSchillerandWeiskophNow here’s a Fun fact: Mr. Bob Schiller and Mr. Bob Weiskoph (both gone now) wrote for Maude. The two Bobs also wrote for Duffy’s Tavern and probably knew my father. I love their picture.

I hope you can find something to make you laugh out loud or to make you smile.

Thanks, for stopping by.

 

 

 

Interview: Guest “Staras” – Willie Tyler and Lester

Hi there you all. Well, I’ve spoken to my first person who guest starred on the tv sitcom, The Jeffersons. Mr. Willie Tyler, ventriloquist. Lester, his dummy, was not available.  I spoke with Willie for about 20 minutes via cell phone regarding this appearance. I got a big kick out of talking with him.  Willie told me he thinks of Lester as real, that way it’s easier to make him real to the audience. About Lester, according to a newspaper article I found on Fulton Postcards: “You would never know that the little fellow is not human once Willie Tyler sets the flashy little man on his knee and commences an act that has been applauded all over the world.”

Writing a book about The Jeffersons is going to give me the opportunity to talk with many more “staras” as my brother would say, and I’m loving it. I get to research these people and bring back an awareness of their works in the entertainment world. A lot of the people who worked on The Jeffersons are gone now. But not all of them.  Some are still doing their gigs to appreciative audiences. As is Willie Tyler and his buddy, Lester. Mr. Tyler is currently preparing to perform on a Cruise Ship. It’s amazing to me how this gentleman has done his ventriloquist act for more than 40 years. And he still loves doing it.

Willie Tyler and Lester appeared on The Jeffersons in 1978. I intend to share more in my book but I will tell you I found an old tv ad that reads: “George’s stockbroker is a ventriloquist, but is he a dummy? Only Louise knows the answer to that one.” Starring Isabel Sanford and Sherman Hemsley. Tarrytown NY Daily News (1978)

Willie Tyler and Lester appeared on the David Letterman show during “Ventriloquist Week” – take a gander, and, please, keep coming back.

 

Flawlessness-It Ain’t Gonna Happen

 Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence. ~Rosalynn Carter.

Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations. (Me, this is me)

Once in a Psych class we were given an assignment, to question our friends and relatives as to how they view us. One question was “describe my level of self-esteem.” Two people got me spot on. Johnny said that my level of self-esteem was not as high as I would like it to be, and that sometimes I am not happy about it. Karta said “I have seen you consciously make an effort to raise your level of self-esteem, unfortunately you still struggle, because a person cannot live up to impossible standards.”

My self-esteem is tied in with a desire to be flawless. So of course I am never quite satisfied with me. The class assignment was in 2004. Two days ago I fully realized the meaning in Karta’s words. I want to be perfect. A mundane thing opened my eyes to this big realization.

  I called the office of the producer of the tv sitcom The Jeffersons to speak with him to try and get some quotes for the new book I am writing on The Jeffersons. His assistant told me she would get back to me and let me know when he would be available. Thinking they would certainly not call back that same day, and needing groceries, I went to the market. I turn my cellphone off when I drive and when I shop. When I turned it back on later, they had called me and said I had 40 mins. to return their call before the producer went into his next meeting. Of course, that time had passed. Then began my “critical self-evaluation”. What a maroon!! I should’ve known they would call!! I blew it!! I’m a big dummy!!.

Then, from out of the blue, something occurred to me. I had to eat and there was no food in the fridge so I needed to go to the store. They will call again, she said so. This is not a bad thing, it’s simply a timing snafu. And then I realized that I had wanted the situation to work out perfectly. The way it had worked in my head. I want to be perfect in every thing I do. If something involving me does not work out my level of self-esteem plummets. Then it hit me. Aha!! I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. I don’t even know what perfect is, so if I reached it I wouldn’t even know! Right after I acknowledged that fact I DID begin to experience a feeling of confidence as Rosalynn Carter said. Now I will no longer spend 3 hours trying to find the perfect pictures to go with my posts!

So, I called the producer’s office again. I told them I just could not wait for them to call me back. I now have an appointment to speak via cellphone to the producer of The Jeffersons on the 29th of this month for 30 minutes!

I do get to experience things in life that I see as perfect. We have a new in-law and a brand new baby in our family. I think this is a perfect picture. Say hello to Mr. Spivey and his son Kaison.

And thanx, for stopping by. 🙂