moms mabley


Here are the three portraits I did for Black History Month last February: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Moms Mabley, Billie Holiday. I’m hoping to do a lot more this February. Who do you want to see portraits of? Add your suggestions in the notes <3 <3 <3 I’m going to try to do them in watercolor, and I want to start with Rosa Parks, Malcom X, Grace Jones…Ilhan Omar! Idk, this is the beginning of a very long list!

Loretta Mary Aiken (March 19, 1894 – May 23, 1975), known by her stage name JackieMomsMabley, was an American standup comedian. A veteran of the Chitlin’ circuit of African-American vaudeville, she later appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  (Wikipedia)

View of actor Redd Foxx and Moms Mabley with Mike Douglas on “The Mike Douglas show.” Printed on front: “Put them together they spell laughs. That funny lady Moms Mabley dons her best outfit to join Mike Douglas and his cohost Redd Foxx for a hilarious ‘Mike Douglas show’ on Wednesday [blank] (Show #MD 0509/73) at [blank] on channel [blank]. Other guests include Slappy White, musicians Dorothy Donnegan and Mr. Black, and Weight Watchers president Jean Nidetch.” Handwritten on back: “Mike Douglas, Jackie 'Moms’ Mabley, Red [sic] Foxx.”

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library

Moms Mabley (1894-1975) was an African-American actor and standup comedian, one of the few and most visible women in the business at the time. Billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World”, she tackled many sensitive subjects, including sexuality and racism.

She started her career in comedy when she joined a travelling vaudeville show at age 14. She became known as ‘Moms’ because she acted as a mother figure towards many comedians during the 1950s and 60s. When she was 27, she came out as a lesbian, becoming one of the first openly gay comedians.


Buying A Bra - Moms Mabley

…when you learn more about this lady…you learn she was a comic genius

i think she helped us laugh to survive and through this she also survived…through quite a bit…yes indeed.

Joan Rivers wasn’t the only female comedian to pave the way for female comedians.

There were others like Phyllis Diller

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Moms Mabley

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Jean Carroll

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and Betty White

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You know something else? None of these women made racist or rude remarks just for the sake of comedy. Because comedy is so much more than laughing at someone else’s appearance, ethnicity, or sexuality. 

“They’ve been teaching the children and giving the children a bunch of lies and Mother Goose rhymes … You tell them Jack and Jill went up the hill after some water. I tell them the water don’t run up hill. You tell them that Mary had a little lamb. I tell them, ‘Wasn’t the doctor surprised!’” —Moms Mabley

Jackie Mabley

Generally considered the first female stand-up comedy superstar, she overcame much to become billed as “The Funniest Woman in the World.” She was the first woman to be featured at the Apollo. In 2013, she also was the subject of an HBO documentary by Whoopi Goldberg. From most sources she was also known as openly lesbian (and during the early 20th century no less), making her a pioneer in that regard as well, considering the time period. So how funny was she? See for yourself.

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Moms Mabley (1894-1975), Comedian

Moms Mabley, billed as ‘The Funniest Woman in the World” was a game-changer for comedy, enjoying a long career that started on the “Chitlin’ circut” and eventually lead her to making a record amounts of money and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. She was out as a lesbian from the age of 27 and recorded over 20 comedy albums, including early “lesbian stand-up” routines. Although she initially performed in androgynous clothing, she changed her stage persona as she got older and more famous, but maintained her more subversive style (and her girlfriends) offstage.