Aunt Esther: "My body was blessed by Mother Nature,
Fred Sanford: "And as you got older, it was cursed by Father Time."
LaWanda Page (Actress) was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 20, 1920. Her
given name was Alberta Peal.
Page got her start working in Vaudeville and at black clubs performing as a
dancer and chorus girl. Her incredible ability to light a cigarette apparently
with her fingers, and other pyrotechnic feats of magic got her dubbed "The
Bronze Goddess of Fire."
By the 1960s she had become in-demand as a comedienne especially on the chitlin
circuit (the black equivalent of the Jewish Borscht belt). She often appeared
in New York's famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. She was
billed along with other famous comedians including "Moms" Mabley, Redd Foxx
and Richard Pryor.
Aunt Esther: "I cant believe it, you with a mop in
your hand? Its about time you faced up to this mess."
Fred Sanford: "Speaking of facing up to this mess, who messed up this
Aunt Esther: "Fred Sanford, the wrath of God will
strike you down."
Fred Sanford: "And this Louisville slugger will knock you out."
Her "big break" came when comedian Foxx asked her to play the hellfire-and
brimstone-spewing evangelistic "Aunt Esther" on Foxx's hit television show
"Sanford and Son." She very successfully made the transition from her bawdy,
obscenity-filled stand-up routine to the sanitized funny lines given to her on
the show; no easy feat.
Page recorded several comedy albums on the Laff records label. One of her albums,
named after her signature phrase on the Sanford and Son show, Watch It, Sucka!
went gold. Suffice it to say that all of her stand-up and recorded material was not suitable for listening by children nor prudes. She knocked them dead in Vegas, however, and was an occasional guest on the famous Dean Martin "Roast" television show. She was even selected to appear on the dais when they skewered Frank Sinatra.
It may not be politically correct today, but this was one of her more well-known 'blue' anecdotes:
A white woman was sent to the insane asylum. This woman was quite
crazy, and had to be put in a padded room. The patient would thrash about
howling "I wanna long black dick!" Now, a colored nurse was assigned to
observe the patient on a daily basis, and judge the patient's progress, if
any, through conversation. Each day the colored nurse came by the woman's
cell and each day the white woman would scream "I wanna long black dick!"
One day, the colored nurse was able to stop
the woman's obscene howling for a moment. They looked at each other and the white woman repeated, slowly this time, "I want a big, loooong black dick!" she then remained quiet long enough for the colored nurse to say, "Honey, when you came in
here you might've been crazy but right now, honey, you're making perfect
Beside appearing on Sanford and Son and two spin-offs, later in life Page
kept working in film, with character roles in such movies as Zapped!
(1982), My Blue Heaven (1990), Friday (1995), and Don't Be a
Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996).
Page died due to complications of diabetes in 2002, at the age of 81.