Whoopi Goldberg Honors Iconic Comic, Moms Mabley

    November 19, 2013
    Meaghan Ellis
    Comments are off for this post.

Veteran actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg recently announced her latest project, however, it isn’t a television show or motion picture she’ll be starring in. It’s actually a HBO documentary that she’ll be directing. The “Ghost” actress will be debuting an honorary film entitled, “Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley.”

For those who aren’t aware of who she is, Moms Mabley was one of the first African American stand-up comedians, and a veteran actress in the ‘Chitlin’ Circuit.’ As an teenage runaway, Mabley began her career on the Broadway stage. She was an entertainer in more than 10 Broadway shows over a 20-year span, appearing alongside prominent musicians like Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.

Mabley evolved to become one of the most successful acts of the Chitlin’ Circuit, garnering an impressive $10,000 each week at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. By the 1960s, Mabley had become a mainstream entertainer playing New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall in 1962.

Mabley also made several mainstream appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, Bill Cosby Show, and the The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour. Mabley also appeared in a number of films including the “Boarding House Blues,” (1948) and the 1965 release of “The Cincinnati Kid.” At the time of her death in 1975, Mabley had become a household name and comedic legend with a career that spanned over 50 years, reports the New York Times.


So, with Mabley esteemed background and legacy, it’s quite befitting that an actress of Goldberg’s caliber would find it necessary to pay homage to the “Amazing Grace” actress.”Moms Mabley has been a huge inspiration to me and so many others, but not a lot of folks outside of the comedy world know about her legacy,” said Goldberg. “Her impact on me was profound.”

Mabley has also been noted as a major career influence for other veteran actors like Sarah Silverman, Phyllis Diller, Eddie Murphy, Joan Rivers, Wanda Sykes, Kathy Griffin, Richard Pryor and Bernie Mac. “She was like a real person, like someone in your family,” admitted Eddie Murphy.

The film will chronicle Mabley’s life and legacy, however, the obvious topics aren’t the only subject matter to be discussed. Mabley’s personal life and sexual orientation will also be explained in the film. She liked women,” said Goldberg. “We had heard that Moms was gay. This is a rumor that had been around forever. And then when we started talking to folks, we talked to the dancer Norma Miller,” a business acquaintance Mabley performed with at the Apollo Theater. ‘We never called Moms a homosexual. we never called her gay. We called her Mr. Moms,’ ” admitted Miller.

“Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley” premiered Monday Nov. 18. However, the documentary will air several times throughout the month of November. Air dates include: Nov. 18 (4:45 a.m.), 21st (1:45 p.m.), 24th (5:45 p.m.), 26th (11:15 a.m.) and 30th (1:30 p.m.).

Image(s) via Wikimedia Commons | Whoopi Goldberg  Wikimedia Commons | Moms Mabley

  • Sharon

    Yeaaaaah! Finally someone remembers mom. We have her album with her story called “Help the Bear” it’s lol for real.

    • Maria

      How did you get it??

  • catherine mckim

    where can we watch MOM ? She sound fantastic.

    • Delores

      I found some of Moms performances on utube.

  • A.J.C.Westwood

    I remember Moms Mabley as a kid, and she always made me smile. Thank you Whoopie, for making this documentary on a lady who should not be forgotten!

  • Maria

    Whoopie- It was well worth the wait!!! You did an excellent job portraying Mom’s!!!! Thank you for EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO!!!!! I have been a huge fan of yours for years because of the way you hold yourself true…you’re funnier than hell and your mind is so curious,lol. Wether you realize it or not… To so many of us in our generation…. You’re like our Mom’s. We have followed you happily and curiously through our lives. Thank you for all the gut wrenching laughs and for the tears… Just thank you!!! Great job on this documentary, I am going to try and find some of Mom’s material to purchase :-) Love you

  • S

    I did not need to know her sexual orientation. Gotta stop reading and watching bios.

  • Rich

    I remember growing up and Parents would be watching or listening to MOMs Mabley very talented comedian Had her record and have seen her on the Ed Sullivan show glad to see Whoopie doing this

  • Spacewaste

    Moms Mabley used to bounce up and down on Dizzy Gillespie’s stiff black dykk, prompting him to shout, “Ooh Pop Shebooowww!!!”

  • Lorraine

    I believe she was the most natural comic ever, She would make laugh until tears would be running down my face. Whoopie is great but no one can tough “M O M S”. Thanks for the great times

  • Delores

    I was glad I stayed up late and watch the Moms Mabley program with Whoopie Goldberg. I learned about Moms in 1964 while working with a lot of wonderful black women in a nursing home in Las Vegas. I went to their parties and listened to the albums of that wonderful woman. I felt Moms was the most “honest to goodness” person I had heard up to that time. I was only 19 years old and fresh from boarding school on the Pine Ridge reservation and hearing Moms’ slant on life was a real education for me. My mentor was Janie McFee who had to be the kindest most loving woman I had ever met up to that point in my life and I am still grateful for the continuation of my upbringing offered by those wonderful women. Thank you, Delores

  • http://www.sewinginsight.com Vernelle

    Did I miss something here? Which network?

  • Susan

    BRAVO Whoopie, I saw your special on Mom’s Mabley. I had forgotten when I was little I did see her on Ed Sullivan and the Smothers
    Brothers, what a great inspiration and fore runner for everyone.
    Smart lady.

    Thank you