Whoopi Goldberg Moms Mabley Film Honors Legendary Female Comedian

Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 02:32 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Whoopi Goldberg pays homage to the standup comic legend Moms Mabley in an HBO film she directed that premieres Monday titled "Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley."

Mabley, who died at 81 years of age in 1975, was well-known for her comic routines in the African-American vaudeville circuit prior to 1960. In the 1960s, Mabley broke through to the country's mainstream pop-culture and appeared on both "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour."

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The first black female comic to play the Apollo, Mabley was known for having performed alongside the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Miles Davis during her varied lifetime, which included a visit to the White House and annual performances before prisoners at the New York State correctional facility Sing Sing.

Though Mabley would tackle controversial racial and sexual topics for the day, she would often disarm her audience by appearing in most skits wearing her signature floral housecoat, argyle socks and cap pulled low over her forehead, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Born Loretta Mary Aiken, Mabley would frequently address her audience "You think you're gonna hear some jokes, don't you? Well, Moms don't know some jokes, but I can tell ya some facts," the Los Angeles Times noted.

"Her impact on me was profound, and I really wanted to know if she impacted other people like that," Goldberg said while promoting her new film, the Los Angeles Times reported. "She was a trailblazer, and she wasn't trying to be a trailblazer — she was just trying to say her stuff."

The film will reportedly consist of rare film footage and still shots Goldberg has compiled of Mabley who is said to have not only influenced a generation of stand-up comics, both black and white, but also was a pioneer in LGBT issues, considering she was one of the first comedians to publicly come out as a lesbian early on in her career at 27 years of age. When not performing, Mabley was often seen sporting tailored suits in public.

Despite being a lesbian, Mabley mothered six children during her lifetime, two of whom reportedly resulted from her having been raped.

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