Growing up as a little girl, the Classic elegance of Hollywood often surrounded the household. Mom introduced me to those film greats. And my Grandpa, James Howell, is a living replication of that timber of style and elegance. That Nat King Cole, Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Dandridge, Betty Davis, Judy Garland, Sammie Davis, Jr., Lauren Bacall, Pearl Bailey era of American film artistry.
Grandpa is a big fan of Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, and other Black American Jazz greats! Going to Michigan during the summer, I remember the conversation of Humphrey Bogart’s stellar performance in The Treasures of the Sierra Madre (1948). The genius and clever performance of his character. The coolness of this legend, himself. Having conversations between Grandpa and Mom created rich harmony. Enamored, I was attracted to delve further into the texture, artful decor, and timber of this era in the American film industry. Yet, even further was that particular discussion on details of how you get the most out of such characters. How Grandpa was able to articulate the conversational dynamics within legendary films (and their characters) was, and still is, amazing. Hearing his ability (in conversation with Mom) to be meticulous and detailed in analyzing the simplest behaviours of characters, brought an Earthly touch-a natural coloring-in how I began to view the film world. Whether people recognize it or not, Black American style and essence greatly shaped the U.S. Hollywood film industry. However vigilant or invisible.
There are just certain auras and mannerisms about that era in U.S.’s Hollywood film industry, that we no longer see. If so, it comes off as a rarity. Yet, it is very telling, isn’t it? There is something peculiar about the coloration and timber of that era in USA her/history. Scales of richness in film, theatric, and entertainment artistry in the Hollywood industry; which were examples of humanity’s ability to connect with that creative energy of the Universal heavens. Producing art forms, which brought this majestic energy, in connecting the palette’s of Heaven and Earth. This era of film in U.S. her/history, where actors and actresses (including those legendary icons) mastered synchrocities of bringing characters to life; making them relatable to audiences across the world.
As I began to delve into my understanding of the Hollywood Classics, I linked that same aura, with the American culture from the period of my Grandfather’s hey day, and future hey days to come. In Black American culture, that era truly resonated in reflecting the cultural aesthetics and celebration of that time. There was just a certain allure in the musical and dramatic culture of that genre. Something so breathtaking, nourishing, and smooth. When I envision the texture, I think of honey-colored champagne. It was one of the essences of America’s style and elegance.
When I listen, and still listen to Grandpa’s voice, I feel as if that Classic Hollywood era is being re-born all over again. That it is coming back to life; giving younger Black American generations the opportunity to connect with that era of classic elegance. There is a style of wisdom and taste, when it comes to hearing Grandpa. Getting that first-hand knowledge and essence of that time, is a wonder in it’s own right. I envision going to the “picture show,” and seeing the Hollywood greats perform. I hear Grandpa’s voice and I imagine performing with the likes of Nancy Wilson, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole. Afterall, it’s fascinating for me to have been named after a famous actress; with me going into the world of theater.
Hearing Mom and Grandpa (and other family members) analyzing and being entertained by the eloquence, storylines, and characters of Classic Hollywood, was a fascination for me, as a child.
In my journey here in Egypt, more and more I became appreciative of Black America’s musical artforms of my Grandpa (and Grandma’s) time. Grandpa and Grandma Howell hooked us (including Sister and Brother) on to Ray Charles. I remember Mom’s playing of Little Anthony and the Imperials. There is just something about the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Particulary, centered around the different productions of Black American musical art forms. Those times had their own illuminations of community; highlighting happiness, and sparkling in the joys of Blackened artistry, inspired.
And, not only did I appreciate these art forms, I began to listen to those legendary songs. “Jim Dandy.” “What A Wonderful World.” “A Fool In Love.” “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” I could go on and on. Just imagining myself in those time periods with Grandpa. Just him and I dancing along. It is far from over. Grandpa still has to give me that dance. In fact, he has many more dances to give. He has to dance with me on my wedding. He has to dance with me on future travels to Paris and other lands of paradise. And, he and I have many journeys and memories to make in our viewing of Hollywood’s classic films, together.
So, go on Jim Daddy. Do your dance. You’re still around, so do your dance. I’ll know that I’ll just get my chance. Do your dance. Do your dance. . . Do yo’ dance! 🙂
“Jim Daddy to the rescue. Jim Daddy to the rescue. Jim Daddy to the rescue. Go, Jim Daddy! Go!”