Moms Mabley: Wikis


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Moms Mabley
Moms Mabley.png
Birth name Loretta Mary Aiken
Born March 19, 1894(1894-03-19)
Brevard, North Carolina, USA
Died May 23, 1975 (aged 81)
White Plains, New York, USA
Medium Vaudeville, television, stand-Up, film
Nationality United States
Years active 1930s-1975
Genres Social satire
Influenced Bill Cosby
Phyllis Diller
Whoopi Goldberg
Bernie Mac
Richard Pryor

Jackie “Moms” Mabley (19 March 1894 – 23 May 1975) was an American standup comedienne and a pioneer of the so-called "Chitlin' Circuit" of African-American vaudeville.



Early years

Mabley was born Loretta Mary Aiken into a large family of twelve children in Brevard, Transylvania County, North Carolina. Her father, James P. Aiken, owned and operated several businesses while her mother, Mary, kept home and took in boarders. Her father died a sudden accidental death when she was eleven.[1] By the age of fifteen Mabley had been raped twice and had two children that were given up for adoption. After being forced by her stepfather to marry a much older man she despised and being encouraged by her grandmother to strike out on her own, she ran away to Cleveland, Ohio with a traveling minstrel show where she began singing and entertaining.[2]


She took her stage name, Jackie Mabley, from an early boyfriend, commenting to Ebony magazine in a 1970s interview that he'd taken so much from her, it was the least she could do to take his name. Later she became known as "Moms" because she was indeed "Mom" to many other comedians on the circuit in the 1950s and 60s. She was one of the top women doing stand-up in her heyday, and recorded more than 20 albums of comedy routines. She appeared in movies, on television, and in clubs.

Mabley was one of the most successful entertainers of the black vaudeville Chitlin' circuit, earning US$10,000 a week at Harlem's Apollo Theater at the height of her career. She made her New York City debut at Connie's Inn in Harlem.[3]

In the 1960s, she become known to a wider white audience, playing Carnegie Hall in 1962, and making a number of mainstream TV appearances.

Mabley was billed as "The Funniest Woman in the World," and she tackled topics too edgy for many other comics of the time, including racism, and although she was lesbian, one of her regular themes was her romantic interest in handsome young men rather than old "washed-up geezers", and regularly got away with it courtesy of her on stage persona where she appeared as a toothless, bedraggled woman in a house dress and floppy hat.[4][5] She added the occasional satirical song to her jokes; her version of "Abraham, Martin and John" hit #35 on the Billboard charts in the summer of 1969. At 75 years of age, Moms became the oldest person ever to have a US Top 40 hit.

Personal life

Though she had four children and five grandchildren, Mabley never married and she lived most of her life as a lesbian.[6] Mabley died in White Plains, New York from heart failure and was survived by her children, Bonnie, Christine, Charles, and Yvonne Ailey.[3][7] She is interred at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York.



  • Bowman's Cotton Blossoms (1919)
  • Look Who's Here (1927)
  • Miss Bandana (1927)
  • Fast and Furious (musical) (1931)
  • Blackberries of 1932 (1932)
  • The Joy Boat (1930s)
  • Sidewalks of Harlem (1930s)
  • Red Pastures (1930s)
  • Swingin' the Dream (1939)


  • The Emperor Jones (1933)
  • Big Timers (1945)
  • Killer Diller (1948)
  • Boarding House Blues (1948)
  • The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
  • It's Your Thing (1970) (documentary)
  • Amazing Grace (1974)


  • 1961 On Stage (Funniest Woman in the World)
  • 1961 Moms Mabley at the "UN"
  • 1961 Moms Mabley at The Playboy Club
  • 1962 Moms Mabley Breaks It Up
  • 1962 Moms Mabley at Geneva Conference
  • 1963 I Got Somethin' to Tell You!
  • 1963 Young Men, Sí - Old Men, No
  • 1964 Moms the Word
  • 1964 Out on a Limb
  • 1964 The Funny Sides of Moms Mabley [Chess]
  • 1964 Moms Wows
  • 1964 Best of Moms and Pigmeat, Vol. 1
  • 1965 Men in My Life
  • 1965 Now Hear This
  • 1966 Moms Mabley at the White House
  • 1968 Best of Moms Mabley
  • 1969 The Youngest Teenager
  • 1969 Her Young Thing
  • 1970 Live at Sing Sing
  • 1972 I Like 'em Young
  • 1994 Live at the Apollo
  • 1994 The Funny Sides of Moms Mabley [Jewel]
  • 1994 Live at the Ritz
  • 2004 Comedy Ain't Pretty


  1. ^ "Jackie “Moms” Mabley". The African American Registry. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-22.  
  2. ^ Kliph Nesteroff (26 August 2007). "Moms Mabley - Agitation in Moderation". WFMU's Beware of the Blog. WFMU-New York. Retrieved 2008-01-22.  
  3. ^ a b "Moms Mabley". Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Black History. Encylopaedia Britannica, Inc.. 2009. Retrieved 2008-01-22.  
  4. ^ Leslie Bennets (9 August 1987). "The Pain Behind The Laughter of Moms Mabley". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16.  
  5. ^ Alden Reimonenq (9 October 2007). "The Harlem Renaissance". glbtq Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-01-22.  
  6. ^ "Mabley, Moms (1897-1975) Biography". St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Thomson Gale. 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-16.  
  7. ^ M.Cordell Thompson (24 July 1975). "Moms Mabley Leaves $½ Million Estate". Jet. Retrieved 2008-01-22.  

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jackie "Moms" Mabley (1894-03-191975-05-23) was an African American comedienne.


  • They say you shouldn't say nothin' about the dead unless it's good. He's dead. Good!
  • [Concerning a young, beautiful woman] What's she got that I ain't had 30 years longer?

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