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