Born on this day in 1894: Moms Mabley, comedy pioneer and social commentator


Photo of comedian Jackie "Moms" Mabley with contract showing her booked into Chicago's Regal Theater beginning October 27, 1944. (Associated Booking Corporation-management-Photo by James Kriegsmann, New York., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
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Loretta Mary Aiken, better known as Jackie “Moms” Mabley, was born on March 19, 1894, in North Carolina. With her iconic baggy house dress and floppy shoes, she became a pioneer in using humor as a tool to critique social and political realities.

Mabley graced the stage of the iconic Apollo Theater numerous times. In a time when opportunities for women in comedy were scarce, she shattered barriers as the first female comedian to perform at the Apollo.

Beyond the Apollo, Mabley’s talents graced the stages of Harlem Renaissance theaters and the silver screen. Her groundbreaking television appearance came in 1967 when she starred in an all-Black comedy show produced by Harry Belafonte.

Moms Mabley died in 1975 due to complications from a heart attack. She was 81 years old. Happy heavenly birthday, Moms Mabley.

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