Mabley’s successful career spanned five decades (though white audiences generally did not learn of her until the early 1960s). In 1939, she became the first female comedian to play the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where she earned $10,000 a week at the peak of her career. Mabley performed at Carnegie Hall in 1962, and appeared on such mainstream TV programs as “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” (1967), “The Ed Sullivan Show” (1969) and “The Bill Cosby Show” (1970).
Jackie “Moms” Mabley passed away from heart failure at age 81 on May 23, 1975 in White Plains, NY. She was survived by her children, Bonnie, Christine, Charles and Yvonne Ailey.
“What could be better than Whoopi bringing Moms to HBO?” said HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins. “We’ve always known how special Moms was, and I can’t think of a better marriage.”
Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley is scheduled to premiere on Monday, November 18, 9pm ET.