Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Talk To Me: The Life of Petey Greene

On Friday July 13th, the biopic "Talk To Me" opens in limited release. It tells the story of Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene (played by Don Cheadle), the ex-con who went on to become a radio/TV personality and activist in the Washington D.C. community. Directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou), the movie also features Cedric "The Entertainer", Mike Epps, Keith Sweat, Martin Sheen, and Vondie-Curtis Hall.

After seeing the trailer for "Talk To Me" a few weeks ago, it spurred me to do some research on Petey Greene. He was born in the poor section of D.C. on January 23, 1928. After dropping out of high school, he joined the Army and served in the Korean War. In 1953, he received a dishonorable discharge for drug abuse.

In 1960, he was convicted of armed robbery and received a 10-year sentence at Lorton Reformatory. During his stay, he became the prison DJ. After his early release for good behavior, he talked his way into a job at radio station WOL and became the host of his own show (Rapping With Petey Greene). His radio success led him to TV. Along with his radio gig, Greene used his TV show (Petey Greene's Washington) to discuss topics such as racism and poverty. He also used his shows to talk about whatever was on his mind (check out the You Tube clip below from his TV series).

In addition to his media endeavors, he also participated in several demonstrations and founded Efforts for Ex-Convicts, an organization devoted to helping former prisoners get their lives straightened out. At the time of his death from cancer in 1984, his TV show was seen nationwide in nearly 6 million households. His stature in the D.C. community was so big that approximately 8,000 mourners showed up outside the church where his funeral took place to pay their respects. For more on the real Petey Greene, check out the following link:

Petey Greene- How To Eat Watermelon (let me warn you, it's not even remotely PC)


The Gal Herself said...

I recently saw the trailer for this at the movies and wondered how "based on a true story" it really was. So thanks for the timely info!

Malcolm said...


Glad I could help. It probably won't do well at the box office, but at least Petey Greene's story is getting told.

pjazzypar said...

I beg to disagree, I think this film is going to do well at the box office, mainly because of the star power of Cheadle, Henson, Sheen, and Ejiofor. I will definitely be there to see it on opening day. We need more stories that uplift and let people know that anyone can make a difference, even someone released from prison.

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