I had the honor of meeting James Earl Jones twice. Both times were under different circumstances, and both times were in 1969.
The first time was back stage during his performance of "The Great White Hope." I was there to pick up some equipment for Barbara Lacey. She owned a club next door to Carnegie Hall called Miss Lacey’s. I met her through Sir Lionel Beckles, who introduced me to Sarah Vaughan. He was a friend of Barbara’s and was doing a catering service for her when she had her grand opening. I was up from Florida visiting Lionel when this happened. I helped Barbara many times while I was in New York, setting up her stage, tending bar, and just hanging out. One of those times we were looking for some stage lights to light up Redd Foxx, who was appearing there. Barbara had a friend who was the stage manager at the theater where James Earl Jones was appearing as Jack Jefferson a boxer based on Jack Johnson. I went there one night during a performance to get the lights. I had to climb into the lofts to get them, and when I came down I met James Earl Jones. It was very brief.
The next time I met him was totally different. Another friend of mine was a song arranger and had offices along side of Carnegie Hall. All of these stories have links to each other – I will try to keep it short.
I had returned to New York to help promote my wife’s career as a singer. When I first heard her sing I said to myself that I was going to manage her. We had two children before we finally went to New York. Through an arranger accompanist I met Sam Herman. I used to visit his office when I was going to Barbara’s club.
Sam called me and invited me to accompany him to the Martin Luther King memorial near 59th street and Central Park; not too far from Sam’s office. I brought my camera and photographed things for him (At that time I had been doing a lot of publicity photos for the different hotels on Miami Beach). Then James Earl Jones entered the cathedral – he came as the spokesman for the event. Sam took me into the office with JEJs and he posed for some shots. While he was doing the memorial I took some shots of him. Then when it was over one of his agents came up to me and wanted copies of the photos. I would have been happy to send him copies, but he said he was on a deadline and needed the photo ASP. So. I rewound the film and gave it to him, with an agreement that he would get them back to me. He lied – I never saw the film or the agent again. I don’t blame James Earl Jones.
After meeting Barbara Lacey in Hollywood, I helped her put together a concert for Redd Foxx’s 70th birthday. We called many celebrities and many came, including Sammy Davis Jr. and his wife Altaves. I was a long time friend with Sammy at the time. Years later I heard that Barbara Lacey and Sam Herman had married. That ties it up. There are many other links, but I will spare you.
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