I remember growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s…..while watching just about every comedy show on television…..be it the sitcoms and comedy hours like I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Leave it to Beaver, The Jack Benny Show, The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show and so many more…..plus watching every comedian that appeared on programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Dean Martin Show, The Milton Berle Show, The Mike Douglas Show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In Show, etc…..and seeing this toothless, bedraggled old black woman in a house dress and floppy hat named Moms Mabley…..who always made me laugh until my sides hurt…..as she performed her special comedic magic in front of mostly white audiences across America…..and little did I know that by the time that her career ended when she died in 1975…..while this little rough voiced female comedian charted a life’s course that would garner her the name of The Original Queen of Comedy. Now, I am talking about Jackie “Moms” Mabley …..who was a trailblazing African American 20th century comedian known for warm yet raunchy stand-up routines and hit albums (24 recorded and released). Some of my favorite quotes from the Grande Dame known as Moms as follows…..”If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”…..”I just tell folks the truth. If they don’t want the truth, then don’t come to Moms.’…..”Ain’t nothin’ an old man can do for me but bring me a message from a young man.”…..”There ain’t nothing wrong with young people. Jus’ quit lyin’ to ’em.”…..”The Mafia got everybody in show business … everybody … ‘cept Moms, that is, she’s too slick for ’em. Now don’t go spreading that around because I’m too old a woman to end up in a ditch somewhere.”…..”Jack Mabley was my first boyfriend. I was real uptight with him and he certainly was real uptight with me; you’d better believe. He took a lot off me and the least I could do was take his name.” These quotes give a wonderful insight into who Jackie “Moms” Mabley was …..as she was born with a God given gift to make folks laugh….who never sold out to the establishment….or ever allowed anyone to dominate and control her…..while continually believing in who she was and never being afraid to show the world…..for this lady was a true pathfinder for women, for women of color, for women in comedy and for racial integration…..and worthy of her story being told here at ImaSportsphile.com. We hope you enjoy the video life and times of this incredible Original Queen of Comedy.
Comedy – Record Album – 1963 – Moms Mabley – “I Got Something To Tell You” – Entire Album
Loretta Mary Aiken (March 19, 1894 – May 23, 1975), known by her stage name Jackie “Moms” Mabley, was an American stand-up comedian and actress…..who began her career on the theater stage in the 1920’s…..and became a veteran entertainer of the Chitlin’ Circuit of African-American vaudeville. Mabley later recorded comedy albums…..while appearing in films and on television programs…..when included The Ed Sullivan Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Comedy – Documentary – 1919 To 1975 – A Thegooddoctor720 Presentation Special – ” Tribute To Jackie ‘Moms’ Mabley: The Original Queen of Comedy” – Part 1
Comedy – Documentary – 1919 To 1975 – A Thegooddoctor720 Presentation Special – ” Tribute To Jackie ‘Moms’ Mabley: The Original Queen of Comedy” – Part 2
Comedy – Documentary – 1919 To 1975 – A Thegooddoctor720 Presentation Special – ” Tribute To Jackie ‘Moms’ Mabley: The Original Queen of Comedy” – Part 3
Loretta Mary Aiken was born in Brevard, North Carolina, on March 19, 1894 …..as one of 16 children born to James Aiken and Mary Smith…..who had married in 1891. Her father owned and operated several successful businesses…..while her mother kept house and took in boarders.
Comedy – Album – 1963 – Moms Mabley – “I Got Something To Tell You” – Entire Album
Comedy – Record Album – 1971 – From the Album Moms Mabely Live at Sing Sing Special – “Moms Mabely: I Don’t Like Old Men”
Her childhood was tumultuous…..when Aiken gave birth to two children resulting from her being raped at age 11, by an elderly black man…..then again at age 13, by a white sheriff. Both children were placed for adoption.
Comedy – Documentary – 1894 To 1976 – A Harmon Leon Special – “The History of Moms Mabely”
Comedy – Record Album – 1964 – From the Album The Funny Sides of Moms Mabely – Live at the State Theater Special – “Moms Mabley: On The Rev + Livin’ Above Your Means”
At the encouragement of her grandmother, Aiken ran away at age 14 to Cleveland, Ohio, joining a traveling vaudeville-style minstrel show starring Butterbeans and Susie…..where she sang and entertained. In 1909, a year after Aiken left, her father was killed when a fire engine exploded while he was volunteering as a firefighter. Her mother took over the family’s primary business, a general store…..but, she was killed a few years later after being run over by a truck while returning home from church on Christmas Day.
Comedy – 1894 To 1976 – Hollywood Stars Biography Special – Moms Mabley Biography – History of Moms Mabley in Timeline
Aiken adopted the stage name Jackie Mabley, borrowing the name of an early boyfriend, Jack Mabley, who was also a performer. She remarked in a 1970 Ebony interview that he had taken so much from her, the least she could do was take his name from him. Mabley quickly became one of the most successful entertainers of the Chitlin’ Circuit…..albeit, as a black woman, her wages were meager. She made her New York City debut at Connie’s Inn in Harlem.
Comedy – 1962 – On The Chitlin Circuit – Recorded Live At The Tivoli Theater – Moms Mabley – On “Men And Me + What Time Is It? + Those Young Children”
Comedy – 1962 – On The Chitlin Circuit – Recorded Live At The Tivoli Theater – Moms Mabley – On “Workin’ For Uncle Sam & A Song Medley”
She came out as a lesbian in 1921 at the age of twenty-seven, becoming one of the 1st openly gay comedians…..when during the 1920’s and 1930’s, she appeared in androgynous clothing and recorded several “lesbian stand-up” routines…..then in April 1939, Mabley became the 1st female comic to perform at the Apollo theater in Harlem.
Comedy – 1948 – Live At The Apollo Theatre Special – “Moms Mabley: Stand-Up Routine and Tap Dance”
Comedy – 1948 – Live on the Chitlin Circuit – Moms Mabely – “Don’t Sit On My Bed”
During the 1950’s, Mabley was influenced by the maternal role she was filling for other comedians on the circuit….when she adopted the name “Moms”…..and adopted the appearance of a toothless, bedraggled woman in a house dress and floppy hat. Mabley also credited the name to her grandmother…..who had been a driving force in the pursuit of her dreams. The non-threatening persona aided her in addressing topics too edgy for most comics of the time…..which included racism, sexuality and having children after becoming a widow. A preference for handsome young men rather than “old washed-up geezers” became a signature bit.
Comedy – Recorded Album – 1969 – Moms Mabley – The Youngest Teenager – Full Album
Comedy – Record Album – 1965 – Side 1 From the Album The Men In My Life – Moms Mabley
Comedy – Record Album – 1965 – Side 2 From the Album The Men In My Life – Moms Mabley
In the 1960’s, Mabley became known to a wider white audience…..while playing Carnegie Hall in 1962….along with making a number of mainstream TV appearances…..with multiple appearances on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Comedy – 1962 – Live on the Smothers Brothers Show – Moms Mabley – “Stand Up Routine”
Comedy – 1967 – Live on the Smothers Brothers Show – Moms Mabley – “Stand Up Routine”
Comedy – 1969 – A Historic Films Stock Footage Archive Special – “Moms Mabley: Stand Up Routine”
Comedy – Record Album – 1969 – From the Album “Live At The Apollo” – Moms Mabley Stand Up Routine – “The Good Days”
Music became a regular part of her act…..and a cover version of “Abraham, Martin and John” hit # 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 on July 19, 1969…..thus making “Moms” Mabley, at 75, the oldest living person to have a U.S. Top 40 hit. She played the Harlem Cultural Festival during this time.
Comedy & Music – 1969 – Live on the Merv Griffin Show – Special Guest Comedianne Moms Mobley Sings “Abraham, Martin and John”
Music & Comedy – 1970 – Live on Playboy After Dark With Guest Host Sammy Davis Jr – Special Guest Comedianne Moms Mabley Singing “Abraham, Martin and John”
Mabley continued performing in the 1970’s. In 1971, she appeared on The Pearl Bailey Show…..then later that year, she opened for Ike & Tina Turner at the Greek Theatre…..and sang a tribute to Louis Armstrong as part of her set. While filming the 1974 film Amazing Grace…..which was her only film starring role…..and that’s when Moms suffered a heart attack…..when she returned to work three weeks later, after receiving a pacemaker.
Comedy – 1961 – From the Album Moms Mabley at the UN – Moms Mabley Live at the Uptown Theater On First Job + Sinus Trouble + Kids + Let Me Vote
Comedy – 1961 – From the Album Moms Mabley at the Playboy Club – Moms Mabley On My Men + Wedding Cake + Hot And Cold Weather
Movie & Comedy – 1948 – An All American Film – “Boarding House Blues” – Starring Jackie “Moms” Mabley
Over the course of her life, Mabley had six children: Bonnie, Christine, Charles, and Yvonne Ailey, and two placed for adoption when she was a teenager. Mabley died from heart failure in White Plains, New York, on May 23, 1975. She is interred at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York.
Comedy – Mini-Documentary – 1975 – Jackie “Moms” Mabley Died Suddenly of Heart Attack After Hearing Secret Stories About Her Children
Comedy – 1975 – GBH Archives Presents A Special Interview by Tanya Hart – Featuring Jackie “Moms” Mabley Just Pryor to Her Death
In 1983 and 1984, Whoopi Goldberg 1st came to national prominence with her one-woman show in which she portrayed Mabley in Moms first performed in Berkeley, California…..and then at the Victoria Theatre in San Francisco…..while the Oakland Museum of California preserves a poster advertising the show. Mabley was then the subject of Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley, a documentary film which first aired on HBO on November 18, 2013…..which was nominated for two Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the 66th ceremony held on August 16, 2014, at the Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles….with Outstanding Documentary for Nonfiction Special…..and Outstanding Narrator for Whoopi Goldberg. In 2015, she was named by Equality Forum as one of their 31 Icons of the 2015 LGBT History Month.
Comedy & Film – 1985 – A Film by Whoopi Goldberg & Tom Leonardis – Special – “Whoopi Goldberg Presents ‘Moms'” – A Story About Moms Mabley
Comedy & Interviews – 2018 – TelevisionAcademy.com Interview By Dan Pasternak Special – With Whoopi Goldberg on Moms Mabley
Comedy – Documentary – 2020 – HBO Films Special Official Trailer – “Whoopi Presents Moms Mabley”
Mabley was the inspiration for the character of Grandma Klump in the 1996 movie The Nutty Professor.
Comedy – 1961 – From the Album Moms Mabley at the UN – Special – “Moms Mabley: White House Lawn”
Comedy – 1961 – From the Album Moms Mabley at the UN – Special – “Friends”
Comedy & Music – 1970 – Live Television Special – “Moms Mabley: Sings ‘It’s Your Thing”‘
Comedy – Mini-Documentary – 2020 – A World of Stars Special – “The Life and Times of Comedian Moms Mabley”
Comedy – 1969 – Historic Films Presents – Live Television On Stage – Jackie “Moms” Mabley – On Childrean + Sings “His Way”
Mabley was featured during the “HerStory” video tribute to notable women on U2’s tour in 2017 for the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree during a performance of “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” from the band’s 1991 album Achtung Baby.
Comedy – 1961 – From the Album On Stage – Moms Mabley – “Hide the Whiskey”
Comedy – 1961 – From Moms Mabley’s 2nd LP Moms Mabley at the UN – Perched Live at Philadelphia’s Uptown Theater- Moms Mabley – “Kids and Let Me Vote”
Comedy – 1961 – From the Album The Youngest Teenager – Moms Mabley – “Letter From The President”
Comedy – 1961 – From the Album Live at the Playboy Club – Moms Mabley – “Buying A Bra”
Comedy – 1961 – From the Album Live at the Playboy Club – Moms Mabley – “Everybody’s Crazy”
Mabley, portrayed by Wanda Sykes, appears in the final episode of the 3rd season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, performing a full stand-up routine on the Apollo Theater stage.
Comedy – 2020 – A Marvelous Night At The Apollo Special – “Wanda Sykes: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Entire Show)
Comedy & Talk Shows- 2020 – A Gold Derby Interview Special – “Wanda Sykes (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’) on Playing Legendary Comic Moms Mabley”
Her career work consists of Stage performances…..while starring in Films and Movies…..as well as appearing on many television shows and programs….. plus recording 21 comedy record albums in a career that spanned 55 years, as listed below.
Comedy & Music – Record Album – 1965 – From the Album Now Hear This – Moms Mabley – “Blabbermouth Song”
Comedy & Music – Record Album – 1965 – From the Album Now Hear This – Moms Mabley – “”My Opera” (It’s up to You)”
Bowman’s Cotton Blossoms (1919)
Look Who’s Here (1927)
Miss Bandana (1927)
Fast and Furious (1931)
Blackberries of 1932 (1932)
The Joy Boat (1930s)
Sidewalks of Harlem (1930s)
Red Pastures (1930s)
Swingin’ the Dream (1939)
Comedy & Talk Shows – 1969 – The Merv Griffin Show – With Guest Star Comedian Jackie “Moms” Mabley
The Emperor Jones (1933)
Killer Diller (1948)
Boarding House Blues (1948)
It’s Your Thing (documentary, 1970)
Amazing Grace (1974)
Movies Clips – 1955 – Scenes from the Movie The Emperor Jones – Starring Paul Robeson & Moms Mabley
Movie & Comedy – 1974 – Amazing Grace – Starring Jackie “Moms” Mabley – Entire Movie
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967)
The Ed Sullivan Show (1969)
The Merv Griffin Show (with guest host Judy Garland, 1969)
The Bill Cosby Show (1970)
The Pearl Bailey Show (1971)
Comedy – 1969 – The Bill Cosby Show (S1 E17) – “The Lover’s Quarrel” – Featuring Moms Mabley
1961 On Stage
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 Conference
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
Comedy – Record Album – 1963 – From the Album Young Men Si, Old Men No” – Live at the Apollo Theater Special – “Moms Mabley: On Everybody’s Nuts + New York Apartments”
Comedy – Record Album – 1964 – Entire Album of The Best of Moms and Pigmeat, Vol. 1 – With Moms Mabley & Pigmeat Markham
Moms is now and always will be a true comedian, as you listen to her delivery you can clearly hear her putting another brick in the road to pave the way for many of the greatest comedians today. She was so expressive and not one cuss word…..real uncut….historic…..who is just like listening to a funny old relative…..cuz it is classic stuff that she delivers….and for my tastes, there is nobody quite on her level…..with dirty jokes without using dirty words. She was awesome…..cuz it is nuts to see this lady and realize that she was dong her routine as a black lady at a time when being black or a lady wasn’t very easy. The fact that you can see interviews by comics today saying she is more important than Cosby or Chappele is amazing. I was sincerely sorry that I couldn’t find any of her videos from the 1920’s and 1930’s…..with her dressed in suits and joking about life as a black lesbian in early 20th century America. This lady was wonderful and funny…..and a significant inspiration for women, for blacks, for stand up comedians….and for common folks in general. Moms was one of the most endearing and beloved people in our history…..for here was a black woman cleverly making fun of the establishment and still being hilarious…..who was absolutely priceless. Alan King said she was the greatest woman in comedy…..who paved the way for many females in comedy…..and stand up comics from Vaudeville to TV and the Silver Screen. What a gift to and for humanity…..albeit not many folks knew of her trials and tribulations she faced throughout her life…..but rather as truly AMAZING gift to humanity…..as pure delight and a class act…..plus, we all need to remember what she said if you truly want to respect this woman…..so, remember the things she taught, that should be normal in our world today…..that we are all the same…..and we should be color blind. The truth be known…..the world hasn’t had a female comedian that is equal too or better since Moms Mabley.
Comedy & Music – 1971 – Live at the Greek Theatre – Moms Mabley – “Super Funk”
Comedy & Awards Show – 1974 – The Grammy Awards Show – With Kris Kristofferson & Moms Mabley Presenting the Award for The Best Vocal Group or Performance to Gladys Knight and the Pips