I'm always reading at least two books, and lately I've been devouring my preordered copy of Michael H. Price's brand-new book Mantan the Funnyman: The Life and Times of Mantan Moreland. I highly recommend this new tome to you, too. Michael H. is an old friend, so I'm a bit prejudiced toward any and all of his projects, mind you, but this is a real honey.
Like almost all of Mike's books, this gem is peppered with a banquet of bon mots from Mike's own life and times, offering a multitude of narrative threads: Mantan's, Mike's (growing up in Texas with a jones for all things Mantan & musical), Mantan's daughter Marcella Moreland Young, and interviews and anecdotes from Rudy Ray Moore, Bill Cosby, Moe Howard (Mantan was almost the third stooge after Curly's death!), Aaron Thibeaux 'T-Bone' Walker, Frankie Darro and too many others to name here. There's a wealth of information lovingly culled from four decades in the newspaper biz (Michael H. has been a reporter and journalist since the late '60s) that also embraces the nooks and crannies of minstrel show and vaudeville history, the Southern "chitlin'" and black stage & music circuit, the black film industry of the '20s, '30s and '40s, the various incarnations of Amos 'n' Andy, the Charlie Chan films (which Mantan featured prominently in as Birmingham Brown), the ACLU's campaign against black actors and comedians like Mantan (which derailed the great man's career from the '40s on), and much, much more.
Michael covers so much cultural and subcultural history that the book functions as a crash-course on 20th Century civil rights issues in the entertainment industry as much as biography of its titular subject. Neatly c --Stephen Bissette http://www.srbissette.com/theblog.html
About the Author
Michael H. Price first began mining the Forgotten Horrors lode in 1975, in collaboration with the film historian-turned-filmmaker George E. Turner. The first such book, published in 1979, has become a perennial and influential collection, casting an unprecedented light onto ill-explored corners of film history. Forgotten Horrors yielded a sequel in 2001, then a third volume in 2003. This fourth book expands the overall sweep to a period spanning 1929 1948. Price, a veteran newspaperman and founder of Texas Fort Worth Film Festival, has recently completed the collaborative graphic novel Fishhead, a horrific Southern Gothic; Mantan the Funnyman, a biography of the pioneering black comedian Mantan Moreland; and Daynce of the Peckerwoods, a study of Texas indigenous music-making traditions. Price & Turner s graphic novella, The Ancient Southwest & Other Dispatches from a Cruel Frontier, has recently arrived from Texas Christian University Press. Price s weekly film commentaries for The Business Press of Fort Worth can be found, both fresh and preserved, on the Web at www.fortworthbusinesspress.com.