Saturday, November 30, 2013


I highly recommend Whoopi Goldberg's new documentary about Jackie, Moms Mabley, which is currently showing on HBO. I can recall seeing Moms perform on the Merv Griffin Show and with Ed Sullivan in the 1960s. One of the most touching moments was when she sang her version of My Way when she sang "What is a woman, what has she got, if not herself, then she has not, to say the way she truly feels, and not the word of one who kneels" and she ended the song by singing, "Yes, it was Mom's way!"

Moms, born in 1894 and died in 1975, was a star of "The Chitlin Circuit" which was the African-American Vaudeville circuit where black performers appeared. She eventually made it to the Apollo Theater where it is reported that she earned $10,000 weekly and by the 1960s she appeared at Carnegie Hall. Moms was a lesbian who dressed in mens clothing offstage. In the Black Renaissance of Harlem in the 1920s, Moms was friends with Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston until a disagreement with Hughes made her choose the side of Hurston and then later she split with Hurston in the 1950s over political differences: Moms was supporting Progressive Democrats and Hurston was for Robert Taft!

In 1969 Moms was the oldest performer in history to have a Top 40 hit record with her version of Abraham, Martin, And John. Listen here for her moving rendition:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Moms was great! ML