In the 1930s, when the opportunities for melanated men and women in the entertainment business were far and few between.
Mom’s Mabley was becoming a star. Noted as the first women comedian to be featured at the Apollo theater. Eventually, she would try her hand at acting, starring in several films and musicals in her career.
Born Loretta Mary Aiken in 1894, she was raised in North Carolina with a fairly large family. She experienced some unexpected trauma as a child.
Her firefighter father was killed in an explosion when she was 11 years old and her mother was later killed by a truck on Christmas day.
To make matters worse, by the beginning of her teens she was raped twice with babies being produced by each occurrence, giving both children up for adoption.
She took on the moniker “Moms” because of her reputation for being a mentoring and mothering spirit. During her comedy routines, she provided sly comments about the pitfalls of young men and relationships, as well as commentary concerning black society, even making fun of her unfortunate circumstances growing up.
The honesty in which Mabley spoke cleared the way for the countless number of melanated comedians that we have today.