restricted access Head and Shoulders
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Head and Shoulders | Fyne Robert Fyne Kean University RJFyne@aol.com Vol. 30.1 (March, 2000) | 87 MuINn I A Great Showman William MuIMn A Great Showman Eugene Jackson. Eugene "Pineapple"Jackson. McFarland, 1999. ($29.95) At first I thought that I would not enjoy Eugene "Pineapple "Jackson, but I was mistaken. This autobiographywritten with the assistance of Gwendolyn Sides St. Julian—is a riveting, human interest tale. Beginning with his Hollywood premier, in the Our Gang series to the many motion pictures in which he co-starred, Mr. Jackson's story is one of hard work and extraordinary determination for this "Mozart ofTap." Mr. Jackson entered motion pictures as a tap dancer and musician. "Pineapple" credits his mother, Lillie B. Foster with most of his success. She instilled in him a determination to succeed and a love of show business. From 1924-1937 he was involved in movies, starting in silent films and breaking into the talkies. Mr. Jackson co-starred in many Westerns; the most well known is the Academy Award winner Cimarron, which starred Richard Dix and Irene Dunne. He made approximately 200 films and shorts throughout his long career and can still be seen in commercials today. Film was not his only arena of skill. From 1932-1933 Eugene and his family went on a vaudeville tour through the West. This was the most interesting part of the book, with the ups and downs of show business clearly explained. The experiences with talent agents were horrific. Agents would set up gigs for the family and then run offwith the earnings. In one town they stole the Jackson's entire wardrobe; but even this did not stop them from performing. The most harrowing event was the drive over the Rocky Mountains during the 1932 winter. This exciting time of Mr. Jackson's life in vaudeville was one of the book's highlights. The following chapter discusses the changing roles for African-Americans in films and show business. Mr. Jackson stresses that too many of today's Black actors and actresses do not appreciate what men like him accomplished for them by accepting meager parts. They opened the industry for greater, future roles. This upset him more than anything else that people of his time are sometimes thought of as traitors or Uncle Toms by current standards. Mr. Jackson points out the importance of taking any job to open doors for the future. Not only was he a talented man, he also had great foresight. The late thirties saw the Jacksons working the night club circuit, a popular form ofentertainment during this period. One important effect was that it brought Mr. Jackson to Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Yes, Eugene Jackson was at Pearl Harbor and a witness to the Japanese attack. World War II broke out and Eugene Jackson did not want to stay out of it. He did defense work until 1943 to keep up the morale of the troops. On another matter, Mr. Jackson points out the ways in which men tried to avoid serving in the military . This is in contrast to the usual stories told about the rush to the recruiting offices. Then in April 1943, Eugene Jackson joined the Army and was stationed at Fort Huachuca. He did not see combat duty because many African -Americans were not allowed to fight in World War II. The remainder of the book covers his performing career following the War. He discusses different entertainment influences of the time, even Elvis. He chronicles his family's achievements along with the students whom he taught at his tap school. Without question, Eugene Jackson led an extraordinary life. - "Head and Shoulders" continued from page 87 - (including Lindberg's participation), and its antithesis, the Fight for Freedom Committee (intervention advocates); and the problems associated with Senators Nye and Clark and their infamous Senate Resolution 152. Complete with more than eighty pages of footnotes and bibliography entries, Celluloid Soldiers really elucidates an important part of cinematic history in a cogent format that details how Jack and Harry Warner, two film pioneers, simply went ahead to chronicle the oncoming Nazi menace. As Dr. Birdwell summarized, the War, per se, has...


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