Loretta Mary Aiken "Moms Mabley" (March 19, 1894 – May 23, 1975), was one of 16 children known by her stage name Jackie "Moms" Mabley, was a standup comedian, entertainer life was marked by tragedy at an early age. Her father owned and operated several successful businesses, while her mother kept the house and took in boarders. While working as a volunteer fireman in 1909, her father died when a fire engine exploded. Loretta was 15 years old at the time. In 1910, her mother took over their primary business, a general store. She was killed after being run over by a truck while returning home from church on Christmas Day. By age 14, Loretta had been raped twice (at age 11, by an elderly black man, and age 13, by a white sheriff) and had two children who were given up for adoption. At the encouragement of her grandmother, Loretta ran away to Cleveland, Ohio, joining a traveling vaudeville-style minstrel show starring Butterbeans and Susie, where she sang and entertained.
She came out as a lesbian at the age of twenty-seven, becoming one of the first openly gay comedians.
Despite Mabley's popularity, wages for black women in show business were meager. Nonetheless, she persisted for more than sixty years. At the height of her career, she was earning US$10,000 a week at Harlem's Apollo Theater. In the 1960s, she became known to a wider white audience, playing Carnegie Hall in 1962.
Reminiscent of a bag lady her stage persona, where she appeared as a toothless, sassy old woman in a house dress and floppy hat. She also added the occasional satirical song to her jokes, and her cover version of "Abraham, Martin and John" hit #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 on July 19, 1969. At 75 years old, Mabley became the oldest living person ever to have a US Top 40 hit.
"A comedic Mom's Mabley despite tragedy, her struggles enabled her to persevere becoming a trailblazer who set the table for female black entertainers today."