PAUSE IT: What do you see? It’s Moms Mabley in Stan Lathan’s Amazing Grace(1974). Actor, Civil Rights and LGBT activist, singer, and stand-up extraordinaire Mabley made her first mark performing as a vaudevillian on the famed Chitlin’ Circuit. She later transitioned into film acting alongside the likes of Paul Robeson and Butterfly McQueen. Mabley’s stage name “Moms” was given to her as an acknowledgement of her tireless work mentoring younger comics on their careers. Indeed, Mabley often referred to her many protégées as her children. As a lasting testament to her talents, performers as diverse as Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Rivers, Kathy Griffin, Wanda Sykes, Eddie Murphy, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte have all cited her among their influences. To learn more about this funny lady and her legacy, seek out her films and records, and be sure to watch Amazing Grace the next time you are in need of some belly laughs.
February 24, 2016