Loretta Mary Aiken was born in NC in the mid 1890's, one of sixteen children. She is better known as Jackie MOMS Mabley. Jackie's early years were bathed in tragedy and swaddled in trauma, beginning with her father (volunteer fireman) dying in a truck explosion when she was eleven, then her mother, two years later on Christmas day, carelessly mowed down by a truck.
Jackie soon joined a traveling vaudeville show in Ohio singing, dancing and perfecting her craft in comedic skits. In the early 1920's Jackie toured alongside the vaudeville duo ButterBeans and Susie, giving her more opportunities and greater audience exposure.
Jackie moved on and moved up (with their insistence) from ButterBeans and Susie to performing with the Chitlin Circuit, where she made full use of the wise old lady character Moms, she had developed while just a young woman with BB and Susie.
Zora Neale Hurston on a Broadway show Fast and Furious: A Colored Revue in 37 Scenes, including Paul Robeson's Emperor Jones in 1933.
Jackie in 1936 with Fats Waller:
At age 39, Jackie became the first female comedian to perform at the Harlem's Apollo Theater.
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Ed Sullivan Show and The Bill Cosby Show. Her raunchiness, racial commentary and raw wit kept her from achieving greater television exposure at that time.
In 1974 Jackie starred in the film Amazing Grace where she suffered a heart attack while on set. Jackie received a pacemaker and three weeks later was back on the set to finish the film. Jackie said regarding having found film success so late in life "I would have liked to have gotten my chance earlier, but that's the way things were in those days...better times are coming."
From the film Amazing Grace:
Jackie died a year later in May 1975.
Jackie MOMS Mabley WAS woman different. Jackie's traumatic youth may have dented her, but Jackie didnt let it dominate her. Unlike Nietzsche's Übermensch, what didnt kill Jackie, made her more human/e. Jackie used humour to connect her audience to the collective pain they all shared in some way or other. And by artfully forging that deep connection through her skillful use of humour, Jackie made herself stronger.
Doing Woman Different even when she became the wise old lady she had portrayed most of her adult life, in 1969 Jackie recorded the tear jerker Abraham, Martin and John and became (and is still) the oldest person to have top 100 hit. I leave you with that:
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