Jackie “Moms” Mabley

mabley1March 19, 1894 – May 23, 1975

Did you hear the one about the young girl from North Carolina who lost both of her parents tragically as a child, was raped twice before the age of 14 and had to give up the resulting children for adoption? Hoo-boy! It’s hilarious!

Such were the beginnings of one of the most influential female stand-up comics of all time. Jackie Mabley (born Loretta Aiken) ran away from all that to start a life of comedy…because that’s really all you can do at that point. Fast forward a few years and we find “Moms” -as she’s now referred – as a very popular comedian who is known for her racy material and frumpy on-stage persona. Mabley became one of the most successful acts on the so-called “Chitlin’ Circuit” – a series of “black-friendly” venues during the era of segregation – and forayed her act into the mainstream with regular spots on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and the Ed Sullivan Show. She also made appearances in movies, including The Emperor Jones, with fellow Ferncliff resident, Paul Robeson. Moms carved quite the niche for herself over her 56 year career. If it takes that kind of childhood tragedy to produce that kind of funny, as least she managed to do it well.

Burial

Ferncliff Cemetery – Hartsdale, NY

Specific Location

Knollwood Garden 1, Row 14, Grave 4; In the Knollwood section, Moms is buried (as her plot indicates) 14 rows from the western edge of the garden, just a couple of spaces north of the road.

ferncliff_mabley

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