Monday, August 18, 2008

Historic script turns up in the stunning Careth Bomar Reid/E.F. Joseph photo collection ... .

This 17-page original script for the US Armed Forces Radio show, "Jubilee" was suddenly there in my hot little hands on Saturday. In this photo Lena Horne is holding it in her hand as she works with Eddie "Rochester" Anderson from the famous Jack Benny Show on mike. Not only the script, but in the same yellowing manila envelope were still photos from the same studio session; multiple pictures of the producer, Sgt. Jimmy Lyons (noted deejay and creator of the Monterey Jazz Festival); a very young Frank Sinatra, Slim Gaillard, the Nat "King" Cole Trio, the Jimmy Mundy band, singer Thelma Carpenter, Lionel Hampton, child prodigy pianist Sugar Child Robinson, composer (and not related) Earl Robinson -- (writing partner of Yip Harburg of "Over the Rainbow" and "Strange Fruit" fame), and Harry "The Hipster" Gibson. These were the "rock stars" of the entertainment industry during the early years of WWII.

The script is fascinating as it is written in the "jive" idiom of the day and is generously sprinkled with words and phrases that defined the world of jazz at that time. Every word brings memories of seeing the Nat Cole Trio for the first time sitting in the dimly-lit tiny but chic 365 Club in Hollywood; the place to be seen. He'd just started to be noticed having recently recorded "Straighten up and fly right" and "Sweet Lorraine". I remember it well and felt 18 again for just a few minutes there; holding that crumbling script in hand and noticing in one of the group shots the back of Nat Cole's patent-leather shiny "conked" hair (a story for another time). Oh how young we all were! The emancipating introduction of natural hair styles for African Americans was still 20 years into the future though common in European countries. We were still torturing our hair to try to emulate white straightness and "good" hair as opposed to "bad". I'd almost forgotten ... . Oh how far we've come -- to a day when Oprah can talk on camera of hair textures as style choices rather than indications of political attitudes.

At this "Jubilee" airing for the armed forces Lena sang "Lover Man", Frank Sinatra performed "The House I Live In" with the composer, Earl Robinson, interviewed as well.

There are so many memories to be re-lived and cherished ...

Were we ever so young? And, yes ...

where did the time go?

Photos: 1) Script, 2) Eddie "Rochester" Anderson with Lena Horne, bottom left, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, bandleader Jimmy Mundy. These and many more from this Jubilee show are among those referred to in this precious studio script. They are the property of Ms. Careth Bomar Reid by whom all rights are reserved.

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