timeline

born 1894

Moms Mabley had a rocky childhood. She lost both parents to tragic accidents; she dealt with sexual abuse and teen pregnancies. But she always knew she'd make it as a performer. And she did ~ becoming a towering comic success so well-loved as to be dubbed "The funniest woman in the world" by fans + so loving as to be nicknamed "Moms" by fellow performers.

Whether on stage or screen, in variety shows or hit albums, Moms always brought the house down as her dowdy + toothless, straight-talking alter ego. Her famous act offered hilarious challenges to accepted wisdom + manners ~ and, an inspiration to the next generation of fearless comedians.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Moms Mabley (11)

"If Elizabeth can run England, I can run America. What has she got that I didn't use to have and where can I get it again?"

Behind the Laughter of Jackie (Moms) Mabley | august 1962

"There ain't nothin' an old man can do for me but bring me a message from a young one...I'd rather pay a young man's fare to California than tell an old man the distance."

Behind the Laughter of Jackie (Moms) Mabley | august 1962

"Love is like playing checkers. You have to know which man to move."

Behind the Laughter of Jackie (Moms) Mabley | august 1962

"Be careful, children—don't speed on the highway. Play with your wife, not your life!"

Now Hear This | 1965

"I don't want nothin' old but some old money. Buy me some young ideas, that's what I'm gonna do with it."

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley | 1967

"Quit it if you can't do nothin' with it."

Jackie "Moms" Mabley performs live | 1969

"Never lose your head, not even for a minute—you need your head. Your brain's in it."

Live at the Greek Theater | 1971

"'Help me make it through the night'—if you can make it for half an hour, you're alright with me!"

presentation for the Year's Best Vocal Performance | 1974

"Without that basic foundation in showmanship, an act can’t remain at the top. Half of the children nowadays don’t even know how to take a bow."

Moms Mabley: She Finally Made the Movies | april 1974

"I'm colorblind. I don't know the difference. I only know you're a human being, and you're my children."

during filming of Amazing Grace | january 1975

"If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got."

popularly attributed saying of controversial origin | march 2014
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curated with care by Alicia Williamson {september 2014}