Lawanda Page-(Aunt Esther) Queen of Funny!
Updated: Feb 5
Dartanya A. Williams Sr.
To all my writing friends blog Diva’s blog Homies and to my dedicated mega maniacs from all over the globe. Thank you for all your love and support all year round. Now I’m staying on the theme of people you know but you really don’t know this time around I’m hitting y’all with somebody you think you know and her name is LaWanda Page better known to the world as Aunt Esther from the hit television show Sanford and Son starring Redd Foxx. I used to love when she called Fred and her husband Woody the wino a fish eye fool. My whole family my brothers my mother and my step father could not wait until Sanford and Son came on every week we use to all gather together around the TV to watch the show because it was one of the few black TV shows that were on at the time not only it was really funny it spoke to our soul and entertained us as well . And it told the truth about our oppression as a people we learned sometimes we had to laugh because God Knows we did a whole lot of crying every day. So, it was way more than just a TV show to us.
What you don’t know about La Wanda Page is she was born with the name Alberta Peal and she was born in Cleveland Ohio October 19,1920 but she was raised in St. Louis Missouri. And she was a dancer in small clubs at the age of 15 years old. She was billed as The Bronze Goddess of Fire. Where she would eat fire and lighting cigarettes with her fingertips isn’t that crazy. She knew Redd Foxx from her early days of growing up in St. Louis and they were very good friends. La Wanda started doing comedy and like many others started working the what black people call the Chitlin circuit. And she did what they call blue comedy that’s just another way of saying she did dirty comedy in the night clubs just like Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, Rudy Ray Moore and many others doing at the time in the early 60’s and she got really good at it over time. She was part of a comedy group called Skillet, Leroy & LaWanda.
As you know if you watched Sandford and Son Skillet and Leroy started appearing on the show as Redd Foxx aka Fred friends and drinking buddies getting into all kinds of trouble. What you didn’t know was the bible toting Aunt Esther had a filthy mouth she made what they called back in the days party albums. She made one with Skillet Mayhand(1928-2007) and Leroy Daniel(1928-93) the album is named Skillet Leroy & La Wanda it’s packed with dirty jokes and skits it really funny you can go on Youtube if you want to check it out. After going out on her own she was billed The Queen of Comedy or The Black Queen of Comedy. She was on the label Laff Records where she recorded several live comedy albums. Sane Advice, Back Door Daddy, Mutha is Half a Word, Hoe’s in Church, Watch it Sucker that was her catchphrase what she was really famous for as, well. Preach on Sister preach on and my personal favorite Pipe Laying Dan.
My mother had Mutha is Half a Word and Pipe Laying Dan albums and me and my brothers use to sneak and listen to them when my mother was not home. What people don’t know is LaWanda Page was just like Rudy Ray Moore with the rhyming with the cursing and she had mad skill with this just like the men or even better. Now if you heard Pipe Laying Dan you would know what I’m talking about it one her masterpieces for real. Go on Youtube and listen to this and you will be laughing you’re a** off when you hear it.
By the 1970’s rolled around Redd Foxx ask his good friend of so many years to come on the show knowing how funny she was as Aunt Esther she was the sister of Fred Sanford late wife Elizabeth. And that she was always going at it with Fred and she just loved her nephew Lamont but he away had to break them up from arguing all the time it was made for great television.
Redd Foxx seen her doing the Esther character in night clubs so he knew it would work on the show the sister in law from hell. I have to say Aunt Esther is one my favorite characters on the show especially when her and Fred got into it insulting one another. Fred use to come up with some good one’s on her one the of the jokes he said to her he would put her face into some doe and make gorilla cookies that’s hilarious. La Wanda Page did Sandford and Son 1973-1977 Sanford arms 1976-1977 Sandford 1980- 1981 and she also did the short- lived series Detective School 1979.
She did film and television appearances in 1977 she did The Love Boat entitled A Tasteful Affair. The Main Event alongside Sherman Hemsley, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, Amen, Martin, 227, Family Matters and Different Strokes. Circus Of The Stars as a fire eater Supermodel of the world. She was in Ru Paul’s music videos hit song Supermodel (You Better Work) she appeared in a series of comical Church’s Chicken television commercials with the catchphrase Gotta love it! She was in Zapped 1982 Good-bye, Cruel World 1983, Mausoleum 1983 My Blue Heaven Steve Martin film 1990. Bobcat Goldthwaite’s as a foul mouth clown Shakes The Clown, I like the line she say in the movie about her having peanut butter pu**y It Brown smooth and easy to spread. She did a cameo in Ice Cube’s 1995 Friday movie. Where she says are you’re not prepared for Jehovah’s return- Ice Cube slamming the door in her face and she yells out well F**k You! You half dead motherfuc***!
La Wanda Page was married three times the first time when she was 14 years old. La Wanda Page died of complications from diabetes on September 14, 2002 at the age 81. She is interred in an outdoor crypt at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California. La Wanda Page’s daughter the evangelist Clara Estella Roberta Johnson, died on June 4, 2006 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 69 sadly.
LaWanda Page everybody and their mother has copied off her style especially the men like Flip Wilson’s Geraldine, Tyler Perry’s Madea, Martin Lawrence’s Big Mama with a tough talking grandmother or older black woman who don’t take no stuff off of nobody think about it. LaWanda comedy her deep word play skills is deep down in our culture and will last forever on her albums and TV video tapes. On her countless television appearances and her most loved character as Aunt Esther will be with us forever.
Yo, It’s your boy Dartanya A. Williams Sr. the underground novelist super star I spit novel’s not 16 bars all my books hit you really hard. If you like my blog you can hit me up on any of the social media doodads and let me know. I’m on Facebook my author page Dartanya A. Williams Sr. I’m on Twitter @ DartanyaSr. And I’m on Instagram @ DartanyaSr. And you can away come check out my banging ass web site Dartanyaawilliamssr.com. and don’t forget to pick up my street classic Almasi aka Glock Mommy. And I’m working hard on part two called Almasi 2 Queen of the Streets coming out soon.