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LaWanda Page

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Biography

Best known for her role as cantankerous Aunt Esther on the sitcom classic Sanford and Son, comedienne LaWanda Page was born in Cleveland, OH, in 1920. After beginning a professional dancing career at age 15, she later relocated to St. Louis, working as a waitress at Ned Love's Tavern; in time she began stripping, incorporating elements of circus sideshow fire-swallowing into her act and earning the title "The Bronze Goddess of Fire." While in St. Louis, Page also met local comedian Redd Foxx, with whom she toured the so-called "chitlin circuit" of black-owned nightspots.

She settled in Los Angeles in 1955 and began performing standup at the local Brass Rail club; eventually Page joined the comedy team of Skillet, Leroy & Co., and while appearing at the L.A. club the Persian Room, was discovered by producers for the upcoming NBC sitcom Sanford and Son, a vehicle for her old friend and collaborator Foxx. The series premiered in 1972 and went on to become one of the biggest hits of its era; after Sanford and Son went off the air in 1977, Page co-starred in the short-lived Detective School, followed by guest shots in a variety of television projects as well as a number of film cameos. Her standup recordings include Mutha Is Half a Word and Watch It, Sucker.

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Born:

1920 in Cleveland, OH

Genre
Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Contemporaries