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LaWanda Page
Birth name Alberta Peal
Born October 19, 1920(1920-10-19)
Cleveland, Ohio,
United States
Died September 14, 2002 (aged 81)
Hollywood, California,
United States
Medium stand-up, television, film
Nationality American
Years active 1949-2000
Genres Word play, Observational comedy, Black comedy, Blue Comedy
Subject(s) human sexuality, race relations, African-American culture, everyday life
Notable works and roles Aunt Esther in Sanford and Son and Sanford

LaWanda Page, born Alberta Peal (October 19, 1920 – September 14, 2002) was an American actress best known for her portrayal of Aunt Esther in the 1970s sitcom Sanford and Son.

Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Page began her career in show business working small nightclubs, billed as "The Bronze Goddess of Fire," an act which included her lighting cigarettes with her fingertips. She performed this feat on an episode of Sanford and Son, in which Fred held a circus in his front yard.

Page was convinced by her friend Redd Foxx to become a stand-up comedienne. She recorded several live comedy albums for the Laff Records label in the late 1960s and early 1970s; One release, a gold-selling album called Watch it, Sucka!, was titled after one of Aunt Esther's catchphrases to capitalize on her newfound TV fame.

On Sanford and Son, Page's Aunt Esther character was the sister of Elizabeth, Fred Sanford's late wife. Page was Foxx's only choice to play Aunt Esther. Esther would sometimes be accompanied by other formidable ladies from her church, or by her henpecked--and usually inebriated--husband Woodrow (played by Raymond Allen).

Aunt Esther was a combination of devout churchgoer and tough-as-nails realist, often sparring with Fred over both the state of his mortal soul and the lack of his success, resulting in her being insulted by Fred in return, with Fred opining on her homely appearance. The character of Esther was in direct contrast to the blue material of Page's stand-up act and record albums.

Page also appeared on several episodes of Dean Martin's "Celebrity Roasts," and over the next two decades occasionally guest-starred in episodes of other popular television shows, including Amen, Martin, 227, Family Matters, and Diff'rent Strokes. In the early 1990s she appeared on several tracks of the debut album by RuPaul entitled Supermodel of the World, most notably the hit song Supermodel (You Better Work). She also appeared in several music videos from the album. Shortly before her death she appeared in a series of comical Church's Chicken television commercials featuring the catchphrase "Gotta love it!" Among her movie credits are an appearance in the Steve Martin film My Blue Heaven; as an extremely foul-mouthed clown in Bobcat Goldthwait's 1991 comedy Shakes the Clown; a cameo appearance in the hit movie Friday, stealing the opening scene with a salty one-liner; and a role in the 'hood parody film Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood as the overbearing mother of aging gangsta "Old School."

Page succumbed to diabetes in September 2002. She is interred in an outdoor crypt at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Her daughter, the evangelist Clara Estella Roberta Johnson, died on June 4, 2006, in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 69.


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