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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Video Beaverhausen: Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

Funny ladies like Moms Mabley and Phyllis Diller were in the vanguard of female stand-up comics, setting standards and breaking barriers and taboos. Joan Rivers was in debt to them both.

Whoopi Goldberg's HBO documentary (now on video), Moms Mabley: I Got Something to Tell You, is very impressive and was Emmy-nominated.

Beyond all the talking heads (Kathy Griffin, Arsenio Hall, Joan Rivers, Harry Belafonte among so many more), this is an outstanding story of an incredible life and a show biz career.

Moms Mabley was a staple on our tv when I was growing up. My mother, brother, both grandparents and I adored her because she made us laugh.

Born Loretta Mary Aiken in 1897, North Carolina, this documentary is quite revealing. For example, I had no idea Moms was a lesbian. There are images in the documentary showing her out of her Moms drag and looking quite butch. Nor did I know she was the first black female to play Carnegie Hall.

Most of the talk among the celebs filmed try to explain the appeal and breakthrough qualities of Mabley, though nobody can analyze her appeal in a satisfactory way.

Stock footage is absorbing to say the least, from Moms' early days in the South to her stardom in Harlem, up through her singing "Abraham Martin & John" on Playboy Tonight. Her rendition became a Billboard top ten hit.

Much analysis in this documentary understandably is focused on the racial as well as gender barriers Moms Mabley was able to transcend via her comic persona of the toothless, hatted, tackily outfitted that was non-threatening.

I highly suggest you see this movie, whether a fan or a newbie who needs to discover this major talent.

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